There were plenty of capable and talented ladies involved with jazz from the beginnings of jazz history, but social expectations for the household matriarch did not include frequenting dance halls at night and touring around the country for weeks in a bus full of men. For some brave women, the attraction to this exciting new music was stronger than social barriers.
Though I play an instrument with an enormous American tradition, it was not until I arrived at my first bluegrass jam that I actually began to investigate that style. Why is it that children learning to play the violin in America don’t learn about the rich traditions of American fiddle music?
I often feel that without a detailed study of our music we become lost but, even worse, with only a detailed study of our music we become boring. Embracing a more complicated visceral living through firsthand experiences and outside fields can lead us to unexpected ends. I hope we use our music to examine these living ideas, adding to our cultural knowledge along the way.
As women, by and large, we have been taught to view ourselves as made up of independent spheres, separating our profession from our gender, and from our craft. One challenge is to allow and encourage our various roles to operate and shape us in tandem, rather than in silos.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced the sixteen recipients of this year’s awards in music, which total $175,000. The winners were selected by a committee of academy members and will be presented at the academy’s annual ceremonial in May.
The music of Chicago-based Janice Misurell-Mitchell seamlessly weaves elements from high modernism with jazz, Latin, blues, and even funk into an amalgam that is completely its own thing. Vanishing Points, the second retrospective disc of her music, collects six of her chamber music compositions spanning four decades.
The idea that 21st-century new music is stylistically agnostic might be somewhere between a truism and an extrapolation, but Boston’s Equilibrium Concert Series actually comes pretty close to that ideal.
In 1988, I arrived in the US ready to start a career as a jazz musician. So my boyfriend (now husband for over 20 years) Peter Kienle and I formed a fusion group with a bassist and drummer from the University of Alabama where I was completing a master’s degree. But one day during rehearsals, I noticed that the bassist didn’t address his questions about my charts to me, but rather to Peter.
An orchestra sensation at age 23. Published by 30. Then a Pulitzer Prize and a Grawemeyer. Now a biography. What’s left after someone writes up the story of your life? Aaron Jay Kernis just keeps on going, continuing to balance composing, teaching, and raising a family.
Part of why Marc Neikrug’s compositions have attracted the attention of so many high-profile soloists is that for many years he was a member of that exclusive club himself—a concert pianist who performed standard repertoire with Pinchas Zukerman in most of the world’s major concert halls. Yet for that reason his music hasn’t always been immediately embraced by the new music community. But he’s perfectly O.K. with that.
Turning to music for comfort and solace is not a subject that is talked about much—not out loud, at any rate—in our community, even though it is a perfectly natural inclination, and something that many of us engage in regularly.
We still have a long way to go in terms of shifting the model of what a composition teacher can provide. First, we must address the master/apprentice mentality. I propose we to do this by continuing to allow more inquisitive learning to take place alongside modeling. Secondly, we desperately need to openly and pragmatically identify the inherent challenges of gender in composition.
You want to grow your audience, but you have limited resources, so you target your marketing efforts at the groups most likely to respond to it. Sounds familiar? Sensible? It is. But almost everybody does it wrong.
It’s always exciting to find a “new” favorite piece of music or music maker, but digging deeper into a known artist’s catalog offers its own myriad rewards. This week we apply that to new releases from Chris Campbell, David T. Little, and Aaron Irwin.
While his background is as academically rigorous as it could possibly be, Tod Machover’s compositional work, as well as his instrument and software design, leans in a direction that can certainly be described as approachable to a broad audience. This was on display in the recent production of his Pulitzer-nominated opera Death and the Powers by The Dallas Opera.
New Music USA has just announced the awardees of our inaugural round of project grants. All awarded project pages, complete with artist profiles, work samples, project information, dates, and photos have been published on newmusicusa.org. This means that the world at large can explore, listen to, watch, and experience the diverse array of these awardees’ works on our website.
There are a number of composers who don’t conform to the traditional model, and the truth is that there really is no typical career trajectory for a composer. The only way to navigate a career as a composer, I have found, is to be prepared for anything.
Teaching composition requires a balance between the student and the teacher; between the micro and the macro. The strategy includes the teacher’s understanding of the creative process, the student’s reflection on that process, and a design of individually tailored tasks for the student—a set of activities mutually agreed upon. Constant shifting between the big picture and the small steps is critical.
Like many music makers of her generation, Kamala Sankaram creates and performs work which is an amalgamation of a wide range of musical traditions. But at the root of everything she does, there is usually a strong sense of narrative. Most recently, she took on the most vaunted form of “dramma per musica”—opera—with Thumbprint, which was one of the highlights of the 2014 Prototype Festival.
The Boston Symphony Chamber Players are celebrating their 50th anniversary with five premieres, nearly doubling the group’s commissioned repertoire all at once. The four new pieces on the February 9 concert were deliberately local.
Viewing last year’s self-titled DVD from Indianapolis “computer-acoustic trio” Big Robot is an exercise in forbearance. The DVD includes six audiovisual pieces, the last of which is divided into three movements; all of this material works by suggesting and then withholding, cannily but almost ceaselessly, the formal and rhetorical identifications, explicit visual and auditory referents, and narrative connections that, by the end of the DVD, we’re made to crave.
We have to view concert presentations as much more than just about music. Whether it is through the use of lighting or video projections, choreography, or unusual staging, presenters and performers no longer have the option of trusting the music—however innovative or unusual—to be the sole draw for their audience.
While the findings of the National Center For Arts Research are encouraging for the state of the arts economy and their methodology is strong, the NCAR’s final analysis has no way to access an individual person who can exist in any or all of the categories they are attempting to study. I’m an administrator, but I’m also a composer, and an audience member, and a donor. It changes with the day, who I’m talking to, and where I’m standing.
Valentine’s Day is here, and for contemporary music enthusiasts, it can be hard to compile the proper playlist. From openhearted to kinky, we’ve got some pretty wide-ranging ideas of what romance is. Without further ado, here’s your 2014 playlist of avant-garde baby-makin’ music.