Classical cred: Apple turns to composers to give its brand a sophisticated boost

Shrugging off the usual tired clichés associated with classical composers, Apple is using them to promote cutting-edge technology in its new TV adverts

Esa-Pekka Salonen is not a household name. At least, he wasn’t until the other day. Apple has released some new TV advertisements for the iPad Air, each demonstrating the way a high-level creative person uses the device for their work; Salonen, the principal conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra and a distinguished classical composer, is prime among them.

He is shown constantly on the move – in London, in a taxi, in a snowy field in his native Finland – mulling over ideas for his new violin concerto with the help of his iPad until the piece is ready for performance.

For the first time, a TV ad is using a contemporary classical composer and his music to symbolise something cutting-edge, desirable and sophisticated. In an area where practitioners and fans often feel marginalised, misunderstood and alienated by mainstream pop culture, this may just demonstrate the start of a sea-change in public opinion.

The ad had 100,000 YouTube hits on its first day and in his blog for The New Yorker, Alex Ross, author of the book The Rest is Noise, which is about 20th-century music, described it as “a cool, elegant piece of work”. If anyone thinks that Salonen is selling out by associating himself with Apple, there is little sign of it. The classical community seems to be greeting the development with open arms – perhaps because the advert is serious about the music and its creator, without “dumbing down”. Or perhaps anything that points out classical music is not just about dead composers and elderly audiences is a welcome relief from the usual tired, inaccurate clichés.

The composer Roxanna Panufnik, whose Three Paths to Peace is being performed at this year’s BBC Proms, says: “For composers to be seen as mainstream people involved in mainstream activities is a great advance for our public image. Previously, we’d maybe looked a bit precious and ivory towerish. I think this will give us great street cred.” The advert highlights the way that technology can revolutionise the experience of classical music: with the iPad comes the stunning new potential of iPad apps. Salonen himself is the driving force behind an impressive, multimedia app made by Touchpress called The Orchestra. Just weeks ago, two of the same company’s apps, devoted respectively to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Liszt’s B minor Sonata, won a Royal Philharmonic Society Award for creative communication. Combining music, film, documentary, commentary and more, these apps are like coffee-table books come to life, controlled by the viewer at the swipe of a screen.

A similar “interactive book”, The Mozart Project, has reached No 1 on the iBook Store’s non-fiction sales. The project features essays, interviews, music, a specially filmed play and even a facility for readers to ask its experts questions. Its co-creator, James Fairclough, adds his approval to the Apple advert. “People are starting to understand the power of what you can do with an iPad and the whole relationship between the watcher and the device,” he says. “Creatively, it can make you a lot freer, whether you’re reading or producing. I think the ad is a brilliant thing, not only for classical music, but for the iPad, too. You needn’t only play games like Angry Birds on it; you can use it to enrich yourself in a completely new way.”

The pianist Stephen Hough, who features in Touchpress’s Liszt app, is a composer himself. He says he has not yet used an iPad for composing, but may now give it a shot. “I do a lot of composing on tour and often I scribble a note on a piece of paper, stick it in my pocket, then put things together when I’m home,” he says.

As for the advert, he is in favour of anything that brings classical music to more people: “Let’s have more ads for classical music than there are for Nescafé,” he says. The sole note of caution, though, comes from Panufnik, who likes the advert, but says she cannot use an iPad for composing. “The screen is just too small,” she says. “I prefer to use my Macbook Air.”

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...