What is the best way to get into classical music?
Start with a platform like YouTube: you can just click and start listening. Classical music isn’t just symphonic works with an orchestra—it can also be a piano solo or a Gregorian chant. The best way to start is to go online, find a platform and a good headset, and start listening.
Do you need to be an intellectual to appreciate classical music?
This idea comes from how pop music has been marketed: pop is easy and accessible and every song is just three to four minutes. With classical works, a symphony can last one or even two hours. That scares people; classical music isn’t necessarily for intellectual people, but it’s scary to go to a concert hall and have to sit there for a whole hour without talking, just listening to one piece.
How can you learn to become comfortable in that setting?
We always like a theme or story to anything we’re watching, listening to or experiencing. If you’re sitting there and don’t have a clue about what you’re listening to, most likely you won’t want to listen to that again. When you’re in front of a piece of music, think about who composed it and why, and what the story is behind it. Most of the time, the story is interesting. Read about the composer’s life and why the piece was composed and you’ll likely relate to it.
What should newcomers not do?
I wouldn’t namedrop someone that I know without really knowing about the style of music they’re playing. Sometimes I go to dinners or parties and someone will ask me: “Do you know Vanessa Mae?” or “Have you played with André Rieu?” Those are the worst questions that make me cringe. Though there’s nothing really wrong with them—Mae and Rieu are both classically trained violinists—but it’s important to understand that real classical music is not amped-up with microphones and played in two minutes.