Chamber Music Campania collaborates with forward-thinking young professionals, composers, and music students with a vested interest in ensuring a vibrant future for classical music performance.
Why do musicians need to (re)envision common practices of music-making?
In the United States, there are roughly fifty major orchestras. Yet, due to a low turnover rate, only 150 orchestra jobs (for all instruments) open on an annual basis. According to the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), the enrolled number of music majors, both graduate and undergraduate, has swelled to over 115,000. With only 150 jobs and thousands of newly minted musicians, the point of economic equilibrium seems to be a fantasy. Indeed, recent studies conducted by the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) conclude that only 47 percent of music-performance majors are currently working as professional musicians in any capacity. (Download the study in PDF format here.)
Despite such statistics, many institutions of higher learning continue to position orchestral performance as the summit of musical achievement. This homogenized standard of excellence does not fit the cultural expectations of audiences today, who often demand new, unusual, and intimate modes of entertainment, whether it be in a theater, cafe, or alternative setting, as in Punchdrunk's wildly popular Sleep No More or immersive shows like Remote X.
Each summer, Chamber Music Campania cultivates an environment in which the new generation of creative young professionals re-imagines the concert space and challenges dated ideas about classical music performance. These self-made musicians work beyond the boundaries of conventional art institutions (i.e., the Orchestra) to help sustain, transform, and celebrate music-making in the twenty-first century.
Why southern Italy?
The rural community of Campania presents a particular challenge in terms of engaging audiences in classical music performance. Performers at Chamber Music Campania interact with a community that has limited access to live art music. Rather than imposing “classical music culture” onto Campania, musicians integrate their professional offering into the existing culture. The essence of southern Italian culture is found in communal settings, e.g., restaurants, family farms, hotels, or museums. Each of these physical spaces presents a non-traditional venue rife with opportunity for sharing an intimate chamber music performance before a potentially receptive audience base.
Further, Varano sits beyond the hustle of urban life and outside the restrictions of conservatory walls. Such an idyllic setting provides a quiet “lab” for discussion about crucial issues facing the modern musician.
Campania, in short, functions not only as a peaceful, country setting where musicians can delve into intensive study without the distractions of a major city center, but also as a prototype for one of the more challenging communities with which they may engage later in their careers.
Why does studying abroad matter?
In 2016, Chamber Music Campania will organize its first annual Vocal Institute, which at heart is an intensive study-abroad experience. During this program, students will engage with a unique community, inaccessible within the walls of a library, classroom, or rehearsal space: students will encounter cultural ambiguities, learn to quickly adapt to a new environment, and acquire an open mind.
Stretching beyond one’s comfort zone and abandoning ordinary American conveniences offers an abundance of lasting rewards. Surveys conducted by the International Education of Students (IES) conclude that experience abroad profoundly shaped the students’ individual identities. Of over 3,400 participants, ninety-eight percent reported “increased self-confidence,” ninety-four percent later sought friendships with persons of diverse backgrounds, and ninety-nine percent continue to explore and interrogate personal cultural values and biases.