People are hungry for substance, yet they don’t know it because they are filled with so much entertainment. We live in an entertainment culture that seeks comfort and surface level consumption. So many experiences capture our attention, but they lack enduring substance. In other words, these experiences leave us unchanged.
In a recent trumpet lesson, I played a video of Leonard Bernstein conducting a piece I wanted the student to hear. My student commented on how much she was enjoying watching him conduct. I told her about his Young People’s Concerts and the lectures he gave to help people grasp the substance in classical music. It then dawned on me how much I miss having this kind of man in today’s world. It seems that even if a program like this were broadcast today, most would still choose reality TV shows, or other entertainment that lacks integrity. Even audiences that attend concerts expect to be entertained. This saddens me greatly! I have even been a part of conversations that center around how composers can better grab the attention of the audience and appeal to this type of an attitude. I think conversations like this go in the wrong direction. Perhaps instead of finding ways to give in to this entertainment-seeking attitude, we should take a stand and simply focus on providing the best music and the most musical performances possible. Entertainment allows people to escape how bored and stressed they are for an hour and then return to their lives no better than before they entered the music hall. However, well-done performances of quality music can feed hungry souls and bring reality into people’s lives. This must be our main focus.
The entertainment-seeking attitude should not be encouraged and I believe it shows love to take a stand on this issue. Why? Well, it goes back to my first sentence. People desire substance. People desire an experience that not only stays with them, but also changes them. It is a deep desire and is one that may only be discovered when the entertainment is stripped away.
I desire greatly for our culture to change in this area. If you feel the same, take heart that you are not alone.
I write music to feed hungry souls, not to entertain people on the way to their grave.