Yo-Yo Ma announcing his performance of Bach from Boston's WGBH on May 24.
I wish I could find the wherewithal to be a fan of classical music in the age of streaming. For a while I watched out of obligation. Obligation turned to watching out of guilt and after the umpteenth youth orchestra performing 90 seconds of Beethoven that I've “gotta hear,” I finally admitted the truth. I just don’t enjoy it, at all. I'd rather look at an actual stream than another classical live stream.
I understand the importance of streaming classical music for organizations to stay in front of their audiences. I understand why a youth orchestra puts together a play-along. I understand why they are short. It’s a lot to coordinate. While I understand it, I still don’t like it.
What other options are there? For youth orchestras there are none. For everything else there are a bazillion options. Why would I listen to the much publicized live-stream of Yo-Yo Ma playing the Bach Cello Suites when I can already hear him play them on any one of his three recordings or I can watch the well-produced 2015 BBC Proms edition.
The production values are the number-one factor in my disregard of streaming music. They vary dramatically.
Augustin Hedelich playing Dvorak
Humoresque Op. 101 No. 7 (arr. Fritz Kreisler)
I must admit that here are a few I’ve come across who are doing it well. Frequent San Diego violin soloist Augustin Hadelich has produced some fantastic videos of himself on both violin and piano. Obviously those aren’t live streamed as he can’t play both at the same time.
Another I’ve enjoyed is frequent San Diego Opera artist Stephen Powell. A baritone by profession, Stephen has created some videos of himself singing the tenor repertoire with a wink and a smile. I love this type of thing.
Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach, again, is okay; an operatic baritone masquerading as a tenor is golden. However, most of the other opera streams I’ve witnessed have been boring. I’ve given up on the free Metropolitan Opera streams altogether. Guess I’ll probably never pay to see them in a movie theater if I can’t bring myself to watch them for free at home.
I like going to the concert hall. I like going to the opera house. The hard truth of the situation is that I’m not going to listen to the San Diego Symphony at home when I can listen to the Berlin Philharmonic instead. I’m not going to listen to any opera currently singing when I’m at home. I don’t like any of them enough compared to the greatest voices of all time.