A Word about the future of the Society from Graham Marshall (Trustee)   February 2017

In 2019 the Rochdale Music Society will be celebrating forty years of promoting great music performed by great artistes. From solo pianists to full symphonic ensembles, the range of musical expertise and artistry brought to venues in Rochdale has been tremendous, enriching the buzzing musical atmosphere in the borough with some of classical music’s particular secret ingredients.

You need not have been a musically trained enthusiast to enjoy the wizardry of some of the acclaimed pianists who have delighted audiences with their performances of Mozart, Chopin, Fauré, Debussy and more modern composers for that fascinating instrument we’d all like to play. Nor would you have needed to performances of trios, quartets and other examples of combinations of instruments for which composers have written music of great beauty.  Music-making, for listener as well as performer,  is one of those activities which somehow reaches down into the depths of human emotion and feeling. A mind open to its  mystery and magic would have sufficed to find yourself filled with the sense of wonder to be enjoyed by simply being there to listen as the many rich musical offerings which the Rochdale Music Society has made were laid open to you ears.   

During the last decade it has become clear that music-making of every kind has been undergoing a radical change for quite some time. With the advent of computers and the expansion of the world of digital sound production and reproduction in the second half of the last century the possibilities for enjoying every kind of music as a purely armchair listening experience have become seemingly limitless. It might well be the case that within a generation or so the traditional ‘concert’ performed by live musicians before live audiences will be considered redundant. 

I hope not. But is already true to say that almost everything to be achieved by promoting ‘concerts’ can be experienced at home with the use of the right audio equipment.  

Yes. Almost. But not all, by any means! I cannot see how the immediacy of a ‘live’ performance will ever be reproduced in the privacy of our living rooms, no matter how sophisticated the equipment. Since music is a form of communication, it has shared human activity written into its very constitution as an artistic endeavour. Composers do not write music just to satisfy their own need to have internal dialogue. They notate their musical images in some way so that they can share their insights with other people. Musicians do not play their instruments just to satisfy their own need to achieve technique. At some point they want other people to enjoy what they can transmit by playing ‘out loud’.  

I’m sure that the vast assemblies of fans in the arena at pop music festivals is a good pointer to this fact: that  people want people to ‘be there’ when the message of their music is being proclaimed, and  when it is, other people want to be there to hear it. 

So, long live the live performance of music! It is, however, an increasingly expensive venture. It  could go without saying that musicians have to be paid enough to live on, and that suitable venues are need in which they can be paid to perform. Such venues cost money to hire, though they do not have to be outrageously overpriced any more than musicians need to be overpaid. 

The trustees of the Rochdale Music Society make it their job to try to provide the best in live musical experiences at the most reasonable rates. They hope to be able to go on doing so for many generations to come. But it would be foolish for them to look to the future without trying to ensure that the Society can  continue its ‘mission’ with reasonable assurance. In the past there have been numerous individuals and businesses who have underwritten the cost of particular concerts or the artistes or the concert venues and so contributed greatly to its success.  It would gladden the hearts of the present trustees if there were to be some today who would do the same! 

The Society’s treasurer, David Woonton, would be delighted to hear from anyone whose concern for the Society’s future could be expressed in terms of financial support of this kind.  He can be contacted on 01706 524594.