Introducing Cremona Musica Media Lounge members: Serhan Bali (Andante, Turkey)

Cremona Musica 2017 will host the Media Lounge, a pool of journalists, bloggers and music critics, who will attend the Exhibition and will bring their own ideas and suggestions for the divulgation and promotion of classical music. Her we introduce the members of the media lounge with a short interview, to start exploring their own points of view.

Serhan Bali is the chief director of Andante, the leading Turkish classical music magazine, which he himself founded in 2002. An online version in English for the international readers is also available:

Serhan Bali also the presenter and scriptwriter of a documentary series on the Turkish channel IZ TV which has the topic of great composers and their birth cities and he will come to Cremona Musica with the IZ crew, to film a documentary about Cremona and its musical heritage.

What does it mean for you to be a classical music critic today?

The meaning of being a classical music critic has not changed since the 1950s but the way that it is done has changed quite a lot. Times are changing in a drastic speed and we, as classical music critics, have nothing to do but to cope with this. Otherwise, we will definitely lose our stature and reliability.

How do you see the influence of internet and of the social media in the way people perceive classical music?

The biggest change and also – to a certain extent – threat to professional classical music and criticism came from the internet, first of all, and then the social media channels. Internet has transformed the traditional media as we all know and the pages dedicated to music criticism has diminished or vanished altogether. On the other hand, internet opened a new way for the classical music professionals. We can easily say that, because of the internet, classical music gained much more visibility in today’s world. Concert halls, opera houses, festivals, competitions, teachers, students, specialist medias have much more space and visibility thanks to the digital age. Criticism have also found a secure place for itself in digital age. Professional critics, music journalists can share their opinions and every kind of stuff through their online channels because of lack of advertising. The main problem is that they can’t earn the same money as before in the printed media.

Can you give some suggestion to young students who are trying to make a career as classical musicians?

A couple of months ago a well-known virtuoso soloist made a confession to me, and said that he pays attention to the social media reactions more than what the critics say about him, because he claimed that he has a very
lively social media following reaching to some hundreds of thousands. Right, classical music criticism and journalism have found a secure place on the internet, but I think we also have to admit that we live in an age where classical music criticism matters less and less, compared to the former times. The serious type of listener has shrunken, and today’s listener type don’t pay that kind of attention to what the critics say. I don’t have high hopes for the future in this field because I can’t see enough reaction from the younger generation to what I am doing. As a reaction to the disinterest towards what they are doing, some of the classical music critics and journalists choose the way of diluting their stuff in order to make them more “consumable”.
Can you suggest a “good model” in Turkish classical music system to be considered and “exported” in other countries?

Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra (BIPO) and Istanbul Music Festival are very good examples in Turkey in terms of promoting classical music culture, forming awareness and building a dedicated classical music community in Istanbul. BIPO is almost 20 year-old and since 1999 it has become the flagship symphonic ensemble of this country, creating a loyal audience, becoming a center of attraction in the season. Istanbul Music Festival is older than BIPO and since 1972 generations of music lovers in Istanbul and actually all over Turkey have learned a lot and have also formed a strong bond with classical music repertoire with the help of their diverse programs. These two are not necessarily exportable since every country can have their own models in this sense, but these institutions as being role models in creating a dedicated classical music audience in Istanbul must be worth mentioning.