Before we sing another chorus of “Auld Lang Syne” and bring the curtain down on 2018, we have an annual tradition among the staff here at New Music USA of revisiting some of the tracks that caught our ears and hung on for any number of good reasons.
Instead of the recording acting as an archival document, it can become an expansion of the music itself. On record, you can provide a unique look into a piece of music that can’t be replicated live, especially in the present day where most people listen to music through headphones.
I’m convinced that the majority of conductors believe that simply because a student is in his/her ensemble playing an instrument, or singing, they are “engaged.” More and more, I’m convinced that this just isn’t the case. We stand on a box, with a stick, telling them what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.
It’s not as much about attracting new audiences as it is about retaking the stage for what artists can be in our society. Music and performance is an incredibly powerful way to connect people. You can create community and discourse and new ways of understanding each other through pieces of art.
Our friend and colleague Nicole Chamberlain agreed to curate a playlist inspired by the upcoming Midwest Clinic with works that she sourced from across the New Music USA platform. She put together this fantastic list featuring tracks from Alex Shapiro, Molly Joyce, Jennifer Jolley, Emily Koh, Alan Theisen, Russ Zokaites, and more!
The goal of being a producer or a teacher isn’t to create carbon copies of yourself or your tastes. Instead, you work harder to help artists or your students achieve (or sometimes to develop) their visions. It’s a more involved and difficult process than it would be to just change everything until you’re satisfied, but the end result is a product that is a true representation of someone other than yourself.
It’s time that we start thinking more about a pretty important stakeholder in what we do, our audience. Just about everything we do, especially as teachers/conductors, is driven by the end result. In our case, that’s the concert, isn’t it? Here are some things that we have experimented with at the University of Georgia, and before that, at Cornell University.
Instead of talking about how many hats we wear as a badge of pride, I want to ponder how much we lose when we choose to write, arrange, perform, and produce in our own solitary creative bubble.
Working in a studio environment has been one of the most beneficial experiences in my musical development, and I want to encourage musicians to take full advantage of the possibilities of a truly collaborative studio environment.
Every project that Jeanine Tesori has worked on—whether it’s a musical, an opera, incidental music for a play, or a soundtrack for a motion picture or an animated film—has a storyline. She claims she needs one to get started. But the storylines to which she’s been most attracted are about people who society has deemed not worthy of being protagonists which has been a hallmark of the five shows of hers thus far that have been produced on Broadway: Fun Home; Caroline, or Change; Violet; and even Thoroughly Modern Millie and Shrek The Musical.
The continuing popularity of silent film showings with live music means that there is plenty of room for experimentation in composing new scores for old pictures—and that audiences can experience individual silent films with multiple soundtracks as fits the occasion or mood.
Sometimes music is a counterbalance to tragedy. And in times of personal grief, I also turn to composition. It’s the role of the artist to dream beyond the borders of current circumstance.
We all know that the soundtrack changes the way we experience a movie. Buster Keaton’s 1927 comedy “The General” is a popular choice for showings with live accompaniment, and here Kendra Preston Leonard walks us through an illuminating assortment of approaches.
A sense of place can be the impetus for a piece, motion can be the catalyst. Sometimes a place can affect the music more indirectly.
It’s obvious that our physical world is in deep trouble. Old and new technologies are out of control—polluting our air, water and soil, poisoning our health, heating up the climate to extreme weather changes, and destroying the ecosystems upon which our lives and all living things depend. What is it that we, ordinary people, can… Read more »
Many cue sheets for silent film show notations where the performer swapped out a suggested piece with one they already knew or owned. Claire Hamack, an accompanist whose scores, photoplay albums, and cue sheets are now online at SFSMA, often made changes—including adding her own original music.
Roy Hargrove (1969-2018) was always only in the moment, hard and sincerely. In that moment, he meant everything he did; he meant every word he said; he felt everything he felt. But it is hard to go through life in that way when everyone else around him wanted more than that moment.
The absence of music by black composers in concert programming and academic institutions tells them that they are not wanted, no matter how much success they gain. The new music community has not only the responsibility, but also the incentive, to change this.
It’s August and I can finally turn my head to a collaboration with Polish violinist Kinga Augustyn for a concert in mid November—a piece for solo violin influenced by Bach’s Chaconne in D minor. I’d been blown away by how Bach took this repetitive form and developed it so profoundly. I aspired toward such a depth. Could I do it? And how? The answer that came: Be yourself.
The advent of the moving picture brought about the development of an enormous amount of new music composed specifically to accompany film. There are hundreds of pieces in the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive to discover and use for accompaniment or analysis, all of it once an influential force on the development of the cinematic score.
There are a great number of interlocking gears in motion behind every orchestral programming decision. Understanding this can help all of us in the new music community be constructive, rather than reactive, advocates for the repertoire we want to hear.
Looking at life through a musical lens, I see many correspondences that are perhaps easier to see in a city like New York, where the counterpoint of life is omnipresent.
Born in Macau, educated in Hong Kong and California, and now dividing her time between Paris and Upstate New York, Bun-Ching Lam creates music that is shaped by her multicultural experience as well as her extreme curiosity. But she is skeptical of fashion.
Our friend and colleague Vanessa Ague agreed to curate a Halloween-themed playlist with works that she sourced from across the New Music USA platform. She found some great tracks!