The topic was weighty: how music can save the world.
The talk ranged across the role of conservatories, the definition of art and music’s capacity to heal.
The World Economic Forum convened a panel discussion at Carnegie Hall Thursday on arts leadership. The focus? “The role and responsibilities of cultural leaders and institutions in the collaborative process of development solutions to a number of challenges affecting the world.” . . .
They all wanted to make the case for why music is important. When all is lost in a natural disaster, say, all that is left is the spirit, Ms. Ochoa-Brillembourg said. “The arts nurture the spirit,” she said. Conversely, dictators try to suppress and control the arts, pointed out Klaus Schwab, the forum’s founder.
If you check out the program for the event, you'll see that the panelists included various arts administrators, a business school professor, some philanthropists, and so on. Can you guess what profession is not represented? If you guessed those of us who actually study these issues for a living, you'd be right. Not a musicologist in sight.
I don't necessarily blame the Davos crowd for missing an opportunity to lend the event historical perspective and a general de-mystification of the role of music in society. One of the ironic things about our discipline is that although we spend an inordinate amount of time asserting our authority over music, we hardly ever assert that authority out in the public sphere where it might actually do some good!