Mizrahi Brings New Motion to Classical Music
By Lauren Glass, '13
When I attend a classical performance, I expect that I’ll be listening to a concert of pieces mostly composed by "the greats" like Beethoven or Mozart. But when I went to see classical pianist Michael Mizrahi perform last week as part of the UD Arts Series, I was instead introduced to something completely different.
I was excited to find that Mizrahi’s focus was not on the pieces of time-tested, centuries old composers, but on new pieces composed in the 21st century. Mizrahi’s goal is both to encourage a new generation of classical composers and to bring a renewal to the classical music genre, as portrayed by his theme of motion. His performance proved that classical music is not a stagnant genre suspended in time, but is fluid, dynamic, living and shifting just as we are.
Until recently, Mizrahi said, the works of famous pre-twentieth century composers dominated the classical piano scene and intimidated most from composing their own new works. Over the past decade however, that’s shifted. There’s a wave of new classical piano creations rolling through the 21st century.
Previously, piano performers were largely restricted to making a career out of winning competitions based on the music of pre 20th century composers. The market for piano concerts, recorded music, and contemporary works was significantly smaller. That market is now growing, however, thanks to the advent of online technology such as YouTube, social media, and music downloading which have contributed to a reemergence of interest in classical piano, Mizrahi said, as well as opened up new outlets for contemporary composers to be heard.
If you think you might want to become a composer or performer for piano, now’s the time to do it, Mizrahi says, "I think there are better prospects now than there have been in decades… it depends on how much of an entrepreneur you are." If you can utilize online marketing effectively to reach the growing audience for contemporary classical music, your chances of building a successful career as a classical musician are definitely on the rise.
Although Mizrahi hopes to see a continued forging of contemporary classical music in the future, he emphasizes the importance of following your interests as a performer, saying, "The key is to be excited about what you’re doing. If what you’re excited about is playing all Beethoven and playing in competitions, then that’s the route for you."
The old can still coexist with the new. What matters is that composers don’t shy away from the classical genre for fear of the size of its historical foundation, but that they continue to build off of that foundation, creating a contemporary identity of classical music for our generation.
For an example of a contemporary piece played by Mizrahi, listen to his performance of the song, Bright Motion: