Is 'Classical Music' Dead in the Water?

On various blogs and message boards I've read lately I've encountered a lively debate over what we should call Classical Music. You know the kind of music I mean: a conductor at the front, a group of musicians scraping, blowing, plucking and striking a variety of instruments ranging from the 'fit your pocket' small, to the 'I need a dump truck to move this mother' behemoth; everyone reading from printed scores, most likely formally dressed, seldom smiling, earnest in their endeavours.

Polite applause ripples around the auditorium, usually initiated either by the 'I know my stuff, so follow my lead and applaud when I do' cognoscenti, or, more disastrously, though admittedly more amusingly, by the enthusiastic ingenue who inadvertently claps between movements of a string quartet -- "tut, tut!" Stifled guffaws and a kind of 'there but for the Grace of God go I' embarrassment wafts around the concert hall for a moment. The cognoscenti enjoy their moment of schadenfreude, the Minuet begins.

This kind of music bears the generic label 'Classical', but this is inaccurate, both in the sense of Classical Literature, which refers to Ancient Greece and Rome, and in the sense of Classical Music as a period of musical history (see below).