A LOSS FOR BOULDER’S CLASSICAL MUSICIANS

Classical music journalist/critic Kelly Dean Hansen leaves the Daily Camera

By Peter Alexander June 26, 2018, at 12:05 a.m.

Kelly Dean Hansen, the classical music critic for the Boulder Daily Camera since 2011, recently resigned his post.

Kelly Dean Hansen Camera Classical Music Writer

Kelly Dean Hansen. Boulder Daily Camera photo.

Hansen resigned as of May 27, but only announced the decision yesterday, June 24. He had written music criticism for the Camera since 2003, first as an assistant to long-time local critic/journalist Wes Blomster, and then as the newspaper’s sole classical music writer after Blomster’s death in October, 2011.

Hansen’s departure had been rumored in classical music circles for some time, and the publication by the Camera of a preview of this summer’s Colorado Music Festival—long a favored topic for Hansen—by reporter Christy Fantz on June 22 seemed to confirm the rumors. Two days later, on June 24, the Boulder Free Press Web page published an article by Hansen announcing his resignation from the Camera and explaining his decision.

The main reason appears to have been the gradual reduction in the number of articles and the total space allotted by the paper for classical music. After 2017, Hansen wrote, “the cuts were unrelenting and ever increasing. . . . By the time I submitted my last piece around Memorial Day, my writing had become a shadow and shell of its peak around 2014.”

Asked to comment on Hansen’s departure, Quentin Young, the Camera’s features and entertainment editor, wrote: “The Camera, like newspapers across the country, has fewer resources than it did five or 10 years ago. But we remain committed to providing robust coverage of local news and events, including classical music.”

In a spoken conversation he added a personal note of appreciation. “Kelly had a rare mix of talents, which most importantly includes a breadth of knowledge of the subject he was writing about,” Young said. “I’m personally sad to see that go.”

Hansen expressed his own sadness in his article for Boulder Free Press, writing “the pain is real, the sense of loss is real.” Likewise, the loss to the Boulder classical music community—musicians, musical organizations and audiences—is real, for at least two reasons.

One is that Hansen had a unique and well informed perspective that cannot be completely replaced. And the second reason is that any community thrives best when multiple voices are heard.

I remember when my friends in the professional theater world used to complain about the power wielded by a single critic in New York, Frank Rich of the Times. I always maintained that the only problem with the highly opinionated and outspoken Rich was that there were not more of him. Likewise, the loss of critical voices and informed journalists in city after city across the country weakens the fabric of our artistic communities, and is always to be mourned.

“In today’s journalistic world I was an anachronism,” Hansen writes, noting the shrinkage of arts criticism in the country’s daily newspapers. “But,” he adds, “I genuinely believe that what I had to offer was both rare and treasured, which explains why I did what I did for as long as I did.”

Indeed.

Finally, my personal reaction is first of all my sadness not to see him at the concerts I attend, which has been a part of musical life since I arrived here, and also that I do not want to be the sole critical voice in Boulder’s incredibly vital classical music scene. Honestly, there is more than any one person can quite keep up with.

Besides, I love to read what others have to say, even when they have a very different perspective than mine—as Hansen often did. I learned from reading his reviews, and will happily welcome other writers to the scene, whenever they might appear.

Let us hope we do not have too long to wait.

NOTE: Edited to correct typos, 6.26.18

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