For a couple of months now
when I arrive to Pimlico tube every morning I seem to be walking as a late-comer
to a Symphonic concert. Normally I end up somewhere in the middle of the final
movement of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony or like today when I landed mid flow
of a Telemann quartet.
I remember when London
Underground trialled playing orchestral music at Brixton Station back in 2001
with the obvious target being the various drug dealers that used to frequent
directly outside the foyer of the station. They even installed speakers on the
It is rather intriguing
how the choice of music reflects back on Transport for London. They seem to go for a certain “unfashionable –
uncool” kind of music that petty criminals would not enjoy listening to (or at
least is what their advisors are telling them).
While orchestral music is
in terminal decline in the public’s consciousness. And the record companies
have pretty much given up on new (studio recordings, live recordings don’t
really need the same amount of investment) ambitious recordings of Opera, Classical,
Romantic and Baroque repertoire. Most record companies seem to be more than
happy to rehash their back catalogue from the 1950s-80s into compilations. And
so avoiding taking any commercial risks and giving new artists and orchestras
the chance to record in studio conditions either contemporary music or give a
new breath of life to older repertoire.
It is symptomatic of this
decline in support that most of the large orchestras have set up their record labels
(e.g. The LSO and the Hallè in Manchester) in order to disseminate their distinctive ‘sound’
out of the big record labels and their politics.
My personal response to
the classical muzak, that Transport for London is putting us through, is contradictory. On one
side I like listening to the music itself (the performances seems to be decent
and the sound adequate) but on the other I have an uneasy feeling on the ethnic &
economic profiling that has gone on in the background. Clearly TfL must be
thinking that orchestral music will not appeal to the caricature of a mugger
that they have in their minds (probably non-Caucasian and under 30). To me the
amount of presumption that has gone on, before settling in this “novel” way to
combat petty crime, creeps me out.
And a few links