Alt-Classical and WTJU
Greg Sandow coined the term “alt-classical.” What is it? As Sandow says, it describes a different kind of modern classical music, different than the academic musings that fails to attract the next generation of listeners.
“[It’s] another kind of new music that a young audience really does like, and that’s what Mason Bates writes, and I’d think also what Anna Clyne writes. I’ve called that style alt-classical in endless posts… pointed out that it has an audience (in New York, quite a large one), and challenged mainstream classical music institutions to wake up and start programming it.”
Talking with my colleagues in the Rock Department at WTJU, I know that there is something to this. Pierre Boulez isn’t high on their list, but Steve Reich is.
There’s this living, breathing, vital alt-classical genre bubbling just under the surface, appealing to younger, primarily non-traditional classical audiences. So where does WTJU stand with alt-classical music?
Well, I can only speak for my own program — Gamut — but with a show that “runs the gamut of music from the Middle Ages all the way up to the present day,” I think I’ve given alt-classical a fair shake.
Skimming some names from my master playlist, I’ve aired multiple works from:
– as well as many others living composers who skirt that alt-classical designation. And let’s not forget Bang on a Can, Kronos Quartet, Evelyn Glennie, and other artists and ensembles whose recordings sell very well outside the classical reservation.
I don’t present this music sequestered off in some corner someplace where it won’t frighten away too many listeners. Rather, I make alt-classical part of the show’s mix, rubbing shoulders with all the works from all the other sub-genres created over classical music’s two-thousand year history.
Alt-classical may still be finding its audience (at least in the concert halls), but as for WTJU? We’re alt-ready there.