February 8, 2023


Does classical music still have a place in modern society? According to Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, the newly-appointed assistant conductor of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, that’s a question that doesn’t even need to be asked.

“I’d say that classical music’s place is more defined than ever,” Bartholomew-Poyser said. “Kids these days grow up listening to all sorts of classical music, whether it’s through movies, video games … It’s everywhere.”

Bartholomew-Poyser has been immersed in classical music his entire life. He studied classical tuba and cello at the University of Calgary, and has conducted and performed with 11 orchestras in various capacities throughout his career. He’s witnessed the power of classical music first-hand and he shares that sentiment with the people who come to watch his orchestra.

“I find that people who come to concerts are generally very positive about the experiences,” Bartholomew-Poyser said. “When they come into a classical concert, they leave feeling different about themselves.”

Although classical music is still applicable, the genre is struggling in Western society. In a February 2008 TED Talk in Monterey, Calif., conductor and speaker Benjamin Zander estimated that a very small portion of the population listen to classical music on a regular basis. According to Zander, there are three types of people – people who have a deep passion for classical music, people who tolerate the genre and people who have no relationship with it at all. A prime example of the latter group is Conestoga College student Jenn Wright. The health office administration student thinks classical music is only somewhat relevant.

“It has a place with other people, but not with people I know,” Wright said.

However, the two extremes that Zander mentioned are coming closer together. Classical music is taking on a new role as a study aid amongst many students. Marko Veselic, a first-year graphic design student at Conestoga College, admits to listening to classical music when working on more detail-oriented projects.

“I mostly use it to relax myself when I’m doing fine line work. It steadies my hand a bit more,” Veselic said.

Some people are more involved with classical music. Anna-Maria Vasco, another first-year graphic design student, spoke of her passion for the genre, a passion she developed when she was young.

“I’ve been playing piano since I was six years old, so I’ve been ingrained with classical music since I was a kid,” Vasco said. “I’ve always played it on the piano and always listened to it when studying.”

Despite classical music being readily accessible, it is playing less of a role in today’s society. However, with a little bit of education, Vasco thinks that it can be strengthened again.

“If you have that little background in you, if you grew up with it, if your parents listened to it when you were a kid, or if you took music as a kid, it sticks with you,” Vasco said. “It’s something you have to pass on. It’s not something this generation will discover on their own.”

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