Nachos with Your Bach?

New Yorker music critic Alex Ross ’90 argues for presenting classical music in unorthodox settings.

Alex Ross ’90, the acclaimed music critic of the New Yorker, is an advocate of experimenting with forms and venues for presenting classical music beyond the traditional concert-hall format—lest the audience for such performances decline further, undercutting the economics of the art form. His most recent dispatch, in the magazine’s February 8 issue, describes the alarming demographics of classical music-goers, and the music he recently heard presented at a club, (Le) Poisson Rouge, where just as violinist Hilary Hahn, offering a short Bach program, “launched into the majestically doleful Chaconne in D Minor, a plate of nachos arrived at my table.”

Ross was profiled in “An Argument for Music,” by Paul Gleason, in this magazine’s July-August 2008 issue. His new book, Listen to This, is listed in Farrar, Straus & Giroux’s catalog for  publication next October. His first book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, won the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award and was a 2008 Pulitzer Prize finalist. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2008.

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