Have you ever heard Chopin’s “Ballad no. 1?” What about Mendelssohn’s third sonata? No even as a classically trained musician, I have not heard them either. Most everyday music listeners have not heard pieces like these, great as they are, because this music is no longer what is played on the radio. On the contrary, what about “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay, “Hallelujah” by Paramore, or even “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga. Most likely even if you do not like these songs, you have heard of them. Although the tradition classical music still has its value, many ensembles are turning to arrangements of new “popular” music for their performances with traditional ensembles such as string quartets. This is because traditional music is not selling very well. Many orchestras throughout the United States have had to close the doors on their concert halls because they did not have enough audience members to support their financial needs. Most of them were and are supported by older people who merely want to hear the greats; Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, ect. However, the younger generations no longer have the great appreciation for these composers that their grandparents did, therefore the seats remain empty. Seeing this, a new movement has begun in which its members play their Bach tunes, but they also play Nirvana, Green Day, Taylor Swift, Linkin Park, and many more. They also are willing to arrange new versions of Classical, Baroque, Renaissance, and Romantic music. An excellent example of this is a group called “Vitamin String Quartet”. They are a string quartet that started small, but have now gone global with their hundreds of string arrangements for popular songs. A generation of people who turn their backs to Bach’s string music, beg for string music by their favorite artists. Here is an example of VSQ’s remake of “Bad Romance.”
In addition to VSQ, there are other groups such as Apocalyptica, John Schmidt, The Piano Guys, or The String Quartet. So before you knock Nirvana, try listening in a different light. For the traditionalists in the music field, including popular music as a dignified art may seem foolish; but replace an electric guitar with a violin and a cello then take a listen. You just may change your tune.