I emailed him to ask what was going on at the Star. Does this mean that Canada’s largest daily newspaper is eliminating classical music coverage? “I think, but I'm only guessing, that the future is freelance,” he replied.
Although he and I write for competing papers, John has always been a friendly colleague. And he worked under demanding conditions: I didn’t envy him, when I saw him furiously writing a review during a performance, so he could file his story well before midnight. (At the Globe and Mail, critics enjoy the luxury of being able to sleep on a review.)
I hope this isn’t starting to sound too much like an obituary. And I hope John will find some way to continue to write about music.
If he's right, and “the future is freelance,” then I must be living in the future. And believe me, the future is pretty lean, and there’s no dental plan. His abrupt departure from the music beat at the Star once again raises the question of how classical music criticism can sustain itself.
Some say that the internet is leading the way into a brave new world of classical-music criticism – a world without deadlines, word-limits and competition for space with the pop-music juggernaut. Others say that it’s given a voice to every know-nothing idiot with a computer. Either way, it’s not at all clear how to make online criticism pay the bills.
© Colin Eatock 2011