In Sunday’s (1/1/12) New York Times, Anthony Tommasini writes, “The Juilliard School’s inviting 275-seat Paul Hall was nearly packed recently for … a free 60-minute Liederabend program on which four gifted student singers, each paired with a comparably gifted pianist, sang songs by Schumann. Classical music has struggled for a long time to fight the perception—an unfair perception—that it is elitist and inaccessible. But here was a program that didn’t even require tickets. People just showed up. … As I listened to these students sing, I thought about the issues of economic inequality that the Occupy Wall Street protesters have moved to the center of political discourse. … Yes, the arts, especially in America, where government support is so paltry compared with Europe, have relied on backing from the wealthiest sliver of society. And, yes, top ticket prices at prestigious performing-arts institutions are out of reach for many among the 99 percent. But as we try to grasp what the committed Occupy Wall Street activists are saying to the performing arts, can we all agree to put aside at last the charge of elitism? Especially, I would say from my partisan perspective, regarding classical music? At least in New York and in many other American cities, as well as most college towns, there are abundant opportunities to attend free or very affordable concerts and operas.”

Posted January 3, 2012