Now this is undeniably an excellent performance of a nice piece of music. Is there anything else to be said about it? Perhaps not. I'm a big fan of simple music, after all and this is, underneath the bluegrassy elaborations, a pretty simple piece of music. Does this count as classical outreach? Well, not really as there is nothing classical about it. Yo-Yo Ma can play pretty well anything on the cello, so this presented few challenges. Does this count as crossover? It is certainly unlike the examples I talked about in this post. There is usually something a bit awkward about a pop musician performing classical music--though Sting does a pretty good job on Dowland. But it can be equally awkward when classical musicians try to do popular music. Luciano Pavarotti comes to mind:
Interesting tell-tale detail that Pavarotti is reading from the music... A classical musician has a formidable technique that can easily handle this sort of music--though he may have difficulties with the style or interpretation. For a lot of music, popular songs or bluegrass, there is enough commonality that crossover is feasible. But is it interesting? Well, not really. This is usually done for commercial purposes and if you look at a list of best sellers in classical music, the Goat Rodeo album is number one. At the moment, anyway. So it worked. The perhaps unfortunate thing is that on the list of best selling classical albums we don't actually get a classical album until number nine (if you aren't too fussy), or number twelve. If you are me, there isn't much until number seventeen which has two Beethoven symphonies.
I've said before that there are two senses of the word 'classical' when applied to music: that musical style from the death of Bach to the death of Beethoven (as opposed to, say, Baroque or Romantic) and that music that has stood the test of time, that is of long-lasting quality whether it is Medieval or Stravinsky or the Beatles. But the Goat Rodeo album doesn't fall into either of those categories. Fun music, well played, though.
At the moment that is all we can expect from 'crossover'. But there is something else looming on the horizon. As did many classical composers, the young composers of today are listening to and being influenced by the popular music of today. It hasn't resulted in much interesting so far. But it might...