Out of all of the possible composer-in-residence responsibilities discussed in my early conversations with the Reno Philharmonic, education made me the most nervous. But due to a strong, long-forged partnership between the orchestra and the local school district, it became clear that a large focus of my time in Reno would be devoted to facing my fears. As we began shaping our plans, I began researching.
What is the Trojan horse that draws us into the intuitive world of art, and makes for an understanding greater than rational apprehension alone can provide for? It’s the raw, sensual nature of the experience itself, which remains stubbornly indivisible, unique, and present.
When composer and educator Bill Ryan interviewed to teach composition at Grand Valley State University in 2005, he laid out what his ideal collegiate program would look like. What no one—perhaps even including Ryan—likely anticipated, however, was how swiftly and successfully he would be able to make his vision a reality and how, in the process of so doing, he would put the university’s program on the national contemporary music map.
Is it wrong to put together a program that will show one’s own work in the best light? Has anybody else out there resorted to such skulduggery?
Garland’s music, which is clear, direct, and refreshingly devoid of self-indulgence or pretension, is engagingly represented in every aspect of this recording.
In 2010, The Guardian published a series in which some of the most prominent contemporary writers in the English language gave us their 10 Rules for Writing Fiction. Some advice appears to speak directly to the craft of fiction itself, but can easily be translated into music composition terms.
By coincidence, conspiracy, or zeitgeist, two of Boston’s more prominent new music institutions recently spent the first weekend in December swimming in that channel of classical jazz and jazzy classicism, the third stream.
The minute you can come up with a list of things that new music is and a list of things that it isn’t, especially in terms of what it should sound like, you circumscribe its possibilities and, in so doing, it ceases being new. The same is true with the future.
I can only remember two times, the West Coast premiere of Pauline Oliveros’s To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of their Desperation and a performance of Donald Erb’s The Seventh Trumpet, where an orchestra I was in performed an “original” composition. This isn’t to say that orchestras never play new music, just that their ratio of new compositions to “flagwavers” was more than reverse that of jazz musicians. I find something rewarding in playing standard material though.
Last night, our guest reminded me of the powerful importance of the performer in our art. It mattered not to me that he was playing music of the past—this was performance of such an intense and effortless nature that I forgot about the music and the master who wrote it.
The Smile Sessions—a total of 144 tracks (in its most complete available form) from the 80 sessions recorded by The Beach Boys between 1966 and 1967 for the never-issued LP SMiLE—contains some of the most provocative musical ideas of the last half-century in any genre of music. But it has taken nearly 45 years for it to be officially released.
These new composer signings along with the recent launch of the e-music publishing platform, Project Schott New York, continues Schott’s ‘Fresh Start in America’ initiative.
Boredom has as much to do with what we bring to an experience as with that experience itself. This is a great point from which to begin a consideration of boredom, which has less to do with some quality inherent in the music at hand than with a certain relationship (or perhaps lack of relationship) between the listener and the music.
The best performers I know are also inveterate perfectionists; before they would agree to venture onto the stage, they have a clear picture of their ideal performance. Paradoxically, our human frailty will never allow any of us to achieve that singular vision. Adding to the difficulty of the musician’s life is the fact that their view of exactly what constitutes the Platonic ideal performance will inevitably shift.
Everything that anyone has ever done, someone is still doing. It’s already been pointed out in Frank’s thread that LPs, CDs, cassettes, and so on will continue to be produced and consumed into foreseeable perpetuity, if only for their fetish value: Buying an album in .mp3 form is a different act than buying it on CD, which in turn is different from buying it on vinyl, and these differences themselves hold meaning for many consumers.
As seasonal decorations pop up all around New York City, holiday music now fills our ears wherever we go. Whether in a deli, a restaurant, or a department store, the annual holiday song mix rings out–a small taste of the vast selection of sung holiday music let loose in December.
James Matheson has won the Charles Ives Living award and will receive $200,000 over a two-year period, beginning July 2012. Although the Charles Ives Living winner agrees to forgo all salaried employment during the award period, there is no restriction on accepting composition commissions.
United States Artists has announced the winners of the next 50 USA Fellowships—unrestricted grants of $50,000 each—including seven winners in the music category who range from composers to musical performance artists.
It is a pleasant irony that, the other day, as I was in a coffee-purveying establishment reading the latest round of recording-industry shills going on about how an even more draconian copyright regime is necessary to ensure creativity and innovation, I happened to hear Michael Bublé and Shania Twain duetting on a version of “White Christmas” that is a near note-for-note remake of The Drifters’ version.
There’s nothing comparable to the experience of listening to a single-movement, extended-duration work. If you are able to focus on it without distraction, it completely takes over your life and makes you lose all sense of time and place. But you also experience sound and form in a different way even if you let your life go on as you’re listening.
My inbox has begin to swell with recommendation letter requests from students applying to the graduate programs that they hope will speed them along towards a career. At the same time, I came across two articles whose intentions were specifically to throw some cold water on those idealistic goals.
That big bands didn’t die out after the demise of the swing era in 1946 is no news to the thousands of musicians who played in studio orchestras and rehearsal bands around the world throughout the 1960-’80s. If anything, big bands became more institutionalized in American culture after the end of the so-called “swing era”: instrumentation became codified and a standardized big-band texture became the sound and feel of American music.
The Recording Academy has announced the nominees for the 54th annual Grammy Awards. Among the composer contenders are John Adams, Robert Aldridge, Gabriela Lena Frank, Fred Hersch, John Hollenbeck, Steven Mackey, and Eric Whitacre.
Although over the years, with patience, tenacity (LOTS of it), and (oh yeah!) the continued production of good music, career things can become easier and flow a bit more freely, the hustle is never really over.