Dr. David Gordon Duke will speak at an ElderCollege event on Oct. 20 about appreciating classical music in the 21st century. Supplied photo

Music writer speaks about classical music in 21st century

Talk is part of new ElderCollege series at North Island College

If you think classical is only yesterday’s music, you might want to think again – and maybe think about attending an upcoming lecture by David Gordon Duke.

Duke is a renowned music scholar and writer. He is also a composer in his own right. He holds degrees in historical musicology from UBC, the University of North Carolina, and UVIC. He contributes articles on music to the Vancouver Sun, as well as the American Record Guide and Classical Voice, North America. He is a faculty member of Vancouver Community College’s School of Music.

His Oct. 20 talk at North Island College’s Courtenay campus will focus on how classical music represents a “shared heritage of musical masterworks from the past,” but at the same time with an expanding repertoire, changes in attitudes around performance and new technology, the art form faces both challenges and opportunities. The talk, Duke says, is designed for a broad audience.

“We’re interested in laymen that are not yet classical music fans but would like to be,” he says. “We’re, of course, interested in people who already converts.”

Early in his talk, he will discuss the new ways people can be exposed to more music.

“Through changes in technology, we have just open access to a world of great performances with the click of a mouse,” he says.

The discussion will veer into topics such as the new ways in which the familiar repertoire is performed, new music being composed and rethinking what music actually makes up the repertoire in the 21st century. As an example of the last point, he cites the rediscovery of many composers, especially women, who had traditionally been left out of discussions around great classical composers.

“The field is morphing and things are changing,” he says, adding that classical music is anything but “static.”

In all, Duke says he has about eight topics to touch on during the course of his lecture. He also wants to dismiss the elitist myths around classical music, even down to what people should wear for a night out, all in the hopes of showing the relevance of the music to a wider audience today.

“That perceived concept of classical music being an entertainment for the social elites is just profoundly wrong and has actually damaged classical music, particularly opera,” Duke says.

RELATED STORY: Comox Valley ElderCollege celebrates 20 years

The talk is part of the Discovery Series for ElderCollege. The regular Saturday morning lectures, which focus on life on Canada’s East Coast, have begun, but Duke kicks off the new series this month. The Discovery Series is intended to provide an in-depth exposure to liberal arts or political science subjects, and they will be presented by experts in the field such as Duke.

“It’s quite new for us to do that,” says Michael Syer, ElderCollege chair.

The event is open to Comox Valley ElderCollege members. It takes place at the Stan Hagen Theatre in Courtenay on Sunday, Oct. 20 from 3 to 5 p.m. People can register for tickets online at nicconnect.nic.bc.ca. The ticket proceeds will support the Comox Valley Youth Music Centre. For more information on ElderCollege, see www.nic.bc.ca/continuing-education/eldercollege/

ElderCollege is celebrating 20 years in the Comox Valley this year. The program, which runs at North Island College, has grown over the years both in student numbers and program offerings.

“We started off with less than 100 members, and we’ve now got 1,200,” says Syer.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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