Since classical music as a genre - in the widest sense - is often seen as not compatible with modernity (whatever that may mean), classical concerts are sometimges 'sold' with the reassuring information that what audiences are going to hear, is exciting, fun, hip and the best entertainment choice within the wide range of contemporary free time spending. The idea is, that this approach will draw new, i.e. young, listeners to the art form. But classical music is not entertainment (although entertainment is often a part of it) but an art form that adresses interior awareness. It can be exciting, yes, and engaging, and wild, as well as reflective, meditative or spiritual. But it addresses the listener's interiority, his inner emotional and reflective life which is as present, lively but also as non-conceptual as the art form itself. We can produce pictures and descriptions of our inner experiences, but the experience as such is word- and picture-less. Visualizations and descriptions are metaphorical, not 'the real thing'.
So, classical music is indeed not compatible with modernity if we understand this modernity as the typical characteristics of our time as observed in public space, and as it invervenes in our private daily lives, in the form of practical technologies, contact and information opportunities and computers, as well as the extensive media culture mushrooming in every corner of human activity. But if modernity is understood as simply our present life: the reality of our experience in the here and now, classical music can be an organic part of it, but in which way? It seems to me that classical music is part of modernity in the sense that it offers an alternative to modernity: where modern life has the tendency to draw-out the individual from his private psychological shelter into the outer world, classical music offers an alternative space where he can recover his inner awareness of Self and balance, and can take distance from the outside world with its many pressures. This is not escapism but a mental therapeutic recovery place. As a balancing act, in its profound contrast to modern life, classical music is a necessary counter weight for emotional and mental sanity.
From this it follows that the materialistic nature of sonic art ( which is all about the sound as such) is not suited to such function, because it does not address the emotional realm which can be reached and touched by music with its expressive aims, with its psychological dimension. Also music which balances at the edge of insanity like Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire and Erwartung or Berg's Wozzeck, is not the best means of re-confirming the Self - but at least it can function as a recognition, and as such: a confirmation, of the listener's inner turmoil, and where this turmoil is suppressed, such music can make it conscious which is in itself therapeutic. But it seems to me that such music can only be located at the margins of the predominant meaning of the art form in general.
The best classical music is driven by two contrary energies: the one that binds, and the one that diffuses; the centripetal and the centrifugal forces, which can also be seen as reflecting the two main drives in the human emotional realm, or to put it differently: the balancing of order and chaos, or: regular structure and freedom. It is the underlying intensity of instinct that wants to be liberated that gives even the most ordered music its energetic life, as so many works of J.S. Bach demonstrate.
Classical music is non-conceptual, also where it functions as emotionally-intensifying a text, and its interiority means that it takes distance from the environment in which it was born. This makes it universal and understandable for listeners in very different times and places: it is contemporary for ever. In this way, classical music is an organic part of modernity and not a 'museum culture' with fossilized works of art which we can observe but with which we can no longer engage.