This week Digital Theatre Plus sales and marketing assistant, Lottie Manzi Davies, shares her experiences of classical music and reflects on how technology is redefining arts accessibility...
I’m the first person to put my hands up and admit that pitching the beauty and relevance of classical music to young people is not my forte.
My introduction to classical music was probably the same as most people my age: I have vague and delightful memories of a battered video of Disney’s Fantasia playing on repeat while my sister and I clumsily pirouetted around in tutus. After a brief stint of GCSE music, my affiliation with Mozart, Bach and Schubert slowly diminished and I’m sorry to say that none of the above made it in to my teenage iTunes library.
But times are changing. With the introduction of new technologies comes a new chance to make the arts accessible, relevant and modern. Most people now have access to music and video streaming services, and young people are looking to expand their already eclectic collections. There are some incredible schemes now in place for young people to break down the traditional socio-economic boundaries of arts education, like Newham Council’s Every Child a Musician programme, which provides free musical instruments and tuition to children in Years 5 to 7 in Newham. Digital Theatre Plus has noticed this change, and has listened to the growing demand for classical music to be heard by everyone, regardless of age, educational background, location or any other factor. This movement towards greater accessibility has been mirrored in our commitment to growing our musical content exponentially with amazing partnerships with the Royal Opera House, Gran Teatre del Liceu and, most recently, the London Symphony Orchestra.
Watching Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 Scottish from the London Symphony Orchestra for the first time, I was instantly transported back to my Fantasia days and the glee I felt at hearing something so emotive and overwhelmingly new. This further strengthened my belief in bringing this content to the 3 million students who currently have access to Digital Theatre Plus. Classical music can be experienced by anyone, anywhere in the world, not just those lucky few who were in the audience of a performance. The joy of discovery should be put back in the hands of students, and technology is helping that to happen, as young people stumble upon, share and create their own cultural identities, mixing the old with the new. For me, the greatest aspect of Digital Theatre Plus is that a user could log in to study Shakespeare, but end up browsing Berlioz in just a few short clicks.
In short, I’ve swapped Fantasia for Symphonie fantastique and hearing stories of our subscribers discovering music in much the same way is music to my ears.