The Classical Musician Today: Getting and Keeping the Career You Want, by Barry Alexander and Cosmo Buono is a ground-breaking, detailed guide to help classical musicians and opera singers achieve successful careers. This book debunks myths, points out where the obstacles lie hidden in your path, and gives practical, specific examples of situations to avoid, which ones to capitalize on - and how to turn them to your advantage.
ARTIST ONE: You walk out onstage to thunderous applause and a standing room only audience that has been waiting to hear you ever since your performance was
announced in the newspapers six months ago. Bow after bow must be taken to accommodate an ovation that comes before even the first note is sounded.
You perform a perfect program, including several encores, because the audience simply will not let you leave the stage.
The next day critics compare you to all the greats of your profession, using phrases like
"not since" and "during the era of," pronouncing you even greater
than many of your predecessors performing the same repertoire. You sit in a hotel suite full of flowers, eating breakfast served on a silver tray, as you speak
with your agent about bookings that stretch out over the next five years.
ARTIST TWO: You sit at your job which has nothing to do with music reading about auditions in a career you first promised to give up five, then ten, then
fifteen, now twenty years ago. You go to every performance you can afford, but more often than not you are in standing room, unless someone is leaving at intermission
and gives you their ticket. You perform from time to time, but usually in small venues where you complain that the audiences don't have the capacity to appreciate
your talents. You have a significant collection of recordings of artists, most of them deceased, because in your heart of hearts you feel that no one living is
quite as good as you.
In your spare time you teach some students, all while sustaining the feeling that if you had had half of their opportunities, you would have been truly successful.
You think back to a critic who, thirty years ago, called your work "exciting" and
"poignant." You feel as though you would have been a truly great artist, but so many
things, all beyond your control, got in the way.
Somewhere, between Artist One and Artist Two, lies a real career.
At its best, the world of classical musical performance is a heady, voluptuous arena of success, praise, and adulation filled with admiring fans and opulent
occasions where audiences celebrate your talents, and praise your gifts.
At its worst it is filled with bitter, jealous people who blame everyone else for their unrealized potential.
However, even for the chosen few who enjoy the higher and more appealing levels of success, one thing is perfectly understood, fully appreciated, and never
ignored: Music is a business.
Just like selling shoes, working in a design firm, or being a life-saving doctor, the world of classical music carries with it the same levels of investment
and return, preparation and discipline, happiness and sorrow, as any other profession. Many artists don't choose to see this fact because they would rather concentrate
on all of the glamour and success than on any of the elements required to achieve them. And for those who choose not to fully focus on the nuts and bolts of building
a career in the classical music world, the results, more often than not, tend to have elements of the life of Artist Two.
This book has been written with one basic goal in mind: so that anyone who ultimately does not enjoy a successful career as an artist does not ever have
to fill in the blank of a sentence that begins "If I had only known that_________________, things might have been different." In other words, our goal is to destroy
as many myths that might prove to be impediments to a career as possible, all while offering solid, practical advice for pursuing one's goals as a classical musician. You
will not find any shortcuts, quick fixes, or ways to make excuses. Instead, we are offering discussions which we hope will help you understand how to approach your art,
your work, and most importantly, yourself. We want to provide suggestions on how careers work, what some of the obstacles might be, and how to get around them. We
also want to help you personalize the advice we offer here by making sure you are aware that there is no one pathway to a fulfilling career, but that each pathway
contains many of the same elements.
In short, this book is designed to help the reader re-think success in the world of the classical music professional so as to enjoy more of it.