In an Aesthetic Landscape of Dirty Knickers, Outraged Stuffiness Creates the Greatest Stir

By Allardice, Lisa | New Statesman (1996), May 20, 2002 | Go to article overview

In an Aesthetic Landscape of Dirty Knickers, Outraged Stuffiness Creates the Greatest Stir


Allardice, Lisa, New Statesman (1996)


The Mediaeval Baebes, Bond and Charlotte Church are creating most of the noise in classical music at the moment. With the exception of Miss Church, of whom we've all heard quite enough, these might be unfamiliar names to many. Transparently alluded to as "the wet T-shirt quartets", these scantily clad girls who dare to call themselves classical musicians were the target of an impassioned speech given by Sir Thomas Allen at the Royal Philharmonic Society awards this month. According to Sir Thomas, these mellifluous lovelies are pulling all the wrong strings and propelling us into giddy cultural decline.

This seems rather a heavy charge for simply spicing up the realm of Elgar and Vivaldi. Since 80 per cent of classical CDs are bought by men, you might think that they should bear some responsibility -- but no the girls get all the blame.

Sir Thomas is not alone in his agitation about artistic "integrity". Alongside the hysteria surrounding Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow, the latest Hollywood imports to hit the London stage, we have predictable sniffiness about celebrity impostors. An editorial in the Guardian (where else?) suggested that many of those who have secured tickets for these "star-mobiles" might not know the names of the playwrights.

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