We went to Albuquerque yesterday for a performance by the Baltimore Consort
of "popular" music from Scotland of the baroque era. They performed in a
spiffy new hall at Albuquerque Academy that I had not experienced before,
size and layout similar to Hertz at UC Berkeley, excellent acoustics,
excellent performance. The performance was almost sold out, with ticket
prices ranging from $22 to $40, which is probably less that many places. I
noted that the audience was mostly middle-aged Anglos, in a town that is
roughly fifty percent Hispanic and Native American. I have notice lately
an abundance of high class music being performed in ABQ and Santa Fe, very
eclectic, with a fair sprinkling of "early" as well as "classical,"
baroque, and miscellaneous "world" music. I found myself thinking about
this ongoing thread on the hpschd list, and it occurred to me that in
looking for an answer to this kind of question, the demographics would
probably provide some clues. Lo and behold, in this morning's business
section of the ABQ paper are some data that surprised me. The town is
growing rapidly, with much of the growth among the "educated"
classes--something like 11 percent of the male adults have PhD
degrees! There is a large university, a national laboratory, high tech
industry including Intel, and if you include the Rio Grande corridor up to
Taos, you have another national lab in Los Alamos, and considerable high
tech industry in Santa Fe, in addition to its being I believe the third
largest retail market in the US for visual arts. Employment in ABQ is up
almost 2 % this year, compared to flat or down in the rest of the country,
and family incomes have jumped dramatically in the past few years. Housing
is plentiful and affordable.
If this sounds like the Chamber of Commerce speaking, so be it. What I see
are many of the same ingredients that have contributed to a vital music
scene in places like Boston, San Francisco, and Seattle in years past, and
I think it is happening here now. Other interesting data are the results
of an informal poll by the editors of folk dance directory which indicate
that NM per capita participation in ethnic folk dance and the music that
goes with it is among the highest in the country, similar to the numbers
for those other hot-beds of high culture listed above.
In other words, having an affluent, well educated audience is important,
and in fact I am betting that having that education in technical fields
And I feel myself resonating with the idea of the "rigid and precious
attitudes" to which Jenni alludes. That gets back to relaxed, informal
formats that prevailed for the two performances that I mentioned a few days
ago, and that's the way this one was, in spite of the much larger
audience--something in the neighborhood of 400 I would estimate. No
Tuxedos! (But no Birkenstocks either.)
At 05:14 PM 11/2/2003 -0800, you wrote:
>Re: An Equal Music by Vikram Seth.
>It's been a while since I read this book, so details are hazy, but
>amongst other things it deals with a chamber group playing an
>adaptation of a Bach Fugue, with its attendant problems of
>instrumental voice range. There is an implication of somewhat rigid
>and "precious" attitudes amongst Hip types regarding needed changes.