NewMusicBox

Your home for the diverse and timely stories, news, opinions, and voices of new music creators and practitioners across the United States.

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Articles
Paul Elwood

Creativity in the Age of COVID-19

Maintain a consistency of creative work and to try not and focus on where it may or may not lead. To compose, practice, and play (albeit on the Web) is an act of defiance.

Articles
Rachel Sze

Cellos? In a time like this?

I parked in the front bus lane and jogged up to the main office, tailing the building service manager, who smiled (I think) from behind his face mask and waved me in. As an instrumental director, I’ve spent plenty of time in my empty school building: quiet mornings before the sunrise for a marching band… Read more »

Articles
Frank J. Oteri

How the New Music Community is Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the hopes that this can lead us toward a consensus about what might be best practices for how to deal with this extraordinary and unprecedented situation moving forward, we posed a series of seven questions to Alanna Maharajh Stone, Katherine Balch, Andrew Bliss, Fay Victor, Roger Weitz, Kate Nordstrum, and Ashley Bathgate.

Articles
CLARE HOFFMAN

This is What Tuba City Sounds Like

Standing in the canyons (sometimes playing my flute), thinking of the people who have lived and who continue to live there, I felt the truth of Willa Cather’s assertion that “it made one feel an obligation to do one’s best.” Two years later, during the second season of the Grand Canyon Music Festival, we headed east out of Grand Canyon National Park, descending down from the Coconino plateau, past the Little Colorado River Gorge, towards the Navajo Nation, on our way to perform for the first time for students in Tuba City.

Articles
Robert Lopez-Hanshaw

Vokas Animo (Performing Microtonal Choral Music: The End Product)

If you read my “Performing Microtonal Choral Music” articles earlier this year, you may remember that I threatened to post some video of my most recent choral and orchestral piece after its premiere. I am hereby making good on this threat.

Articles
Frank J. Oteri

2020 ASCAP Foundation Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards Announced

The ASCAP Foundation has announced the 20 recipients and 3 honorable mentions of the 2020 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards. The recipients, who receive cash awards, range in age from 17 to 28.

Articles
Joseph Sowa

In Praise of Unremarkable Music, Part 2

Many of us have feelings about what is true, beautiful, or good in music which match the fervor most people hold only for politics or religion. I know I have on occasion felt viscerally offended by “bad” music. Soberly considered, such reactions make no sense. It’s just sound.

Articles
Joseph Sowa

In Praise of Unremarkable Music: Part 1

Why did you start writing music? Now, what do you hope to accomplish? This year? This decade? By the end of your life? In response to these questions, you might envision your music’s success according to a variety of measures: The awards, press, and publicity it receives. The size of audiences it attracts. The money… Read more »

Standing ovation for Joan Tower
Articles
Frank J. Oteri

2020 Chamber Music Conference Continues Focus on Equity and Inclusivity

In recent years, the annual Chamber Music America conference has placed a specific emphasis on equity, diversity, and inclusion in the music sector and has aimed to be a catalyst for positive change within our community. This year’s conference moved the dial still further with a heady mix of provocative talks and diverse approaches to music-making.

Articles
Multiple Authors

Promoting Equity: Developing an Antiracist Music Theory Classroom

We present strategies on how to begin disrupting the normalization of whiteness in the music theory classroom, starting with making it visible. We should think of this disruption as a process rather than a product—antiracist describes actions, not states of being.

Articles
Robert Lopez-Hanshaw

Getting Your Hands Dirty (Performing Microtonal Choral Music, Part 2)

For amateur choirs, there is no guarantee that the singers will have the whole-score awareness that is a hallmark of elite ensembles; and for many, there is basically a guarantee that they won’t! So why on earth would anyone try to bring microtonal music into this ecosystem? Well, for one thing, it will help hone everyone’s intonational awareness—which can be sorely needed. But, on its own terms: there are new worlds of emotion to be explored that are unavailable with 12 equal tones alone!

Articles
Robert Lopez-Hanshaw

The Journey In (Performing Microtonal Choral Music, Part 1)

Why would anyone expect a choir to be able to sing microtones? All the literature seems to be on their limitations. Everyone knows that choirs are devastatingly conservative, anyway. They, and their audiences, would surely revolt at the slightest hint of strangeness. But—of course—there are cracks in this theory. I’ve recently had some successes with microtonal pedagogy for choirs.

Articles
Craig Shepard

Together We Can

In 2010, I had more or less stopped making music. To anyone who would listen, I complained about other musicians, arts funding, and how much better the European cultural infrastructure was. Then I began looking for opportunities in walking distance from my home. I didn’t anticipate how far this decision would lead me in realizing Music for Contemplation concerts, Creating Music Together workshops and retreats, On Foot walking projects, and Broken Silence concerts.

Omar Thomas
Articles
Frank J. Oteri

Omar Thomas Wins 2019 Revelli Award

Omar Thomas has been named the recipient of the 2019 William D. Revelli Award for his 2018 composition Come Sunday.

Ruth Anderson
Articles
Annea Lockwood

Hearing a Person—Remembering Ruth Anderson (1928-2019)

The last music Ruth Anderson heard before she died was Judith Blegen singing Kein Musik ist ja nicht auf erden …, with which Mahler’s Fourth Symphony ends, a song which had been a touchstone for us for many years and which I had been unable to find for weeks among our record collection despite just… Read more »

Glasses
Articles
Dave Molk

Teaching Inequality: Consequences of Traditional Music Theory Pedagogy

Western art music is not a universal language. It does some things well, other things not as well, and many things not at all. What biases do we create in our students when we declare Western art music to be mandatory knowledge for anyone pursuing formal music studies?

Ju-Ping Song at a toy piano with chopsticks
Articles
Ju-Ping Song

The Artful Toy: Toy Piano Influencers and The Making of an Album

I did not come to the toy piano deliberately. Instead, while doing research on John Cage, I went down a rather strange rabbit hole, where I stumbled across a wonderful instrument. The toy piano is an avant-garde musician’s dream. It has no musical baggage, no weighty historical performance practice, no standard repertoire. It has nothing to hold you back, to tell you you’re doing it wrong; it exists only in the present and looks to the future.

Articles
Frank J. Oteri

Lei Liang Wins 2020 Grawemeyer Award for Climate Change-Inspired Piece

Chinese-American composer Lei Liang has won the 2020 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for a Boston Modern Orchestra Project commissioned orchestral work titled A Thousand Mountains, a Million Streams, a piece that evokes the threat posed by climate change and the opportunity it offers for redemption.

Articles
Diane Moser

How Working with Birdsong Brought Me to New Communities Beyond Music

One never knows where the music will take you, especially if you are willing to explore new pathways. After the release of my recording Birdsongs, the conversations about the music included conversations on listening, walking in the woods, memories of experiences in nature, dreaming, climate change, and so much more. These are very different conversations than I usually have about my music.

A group of bicycles chained to a rack one of which is just one tire, presumably because the rest of the bike was stolen.
Articles
Brent Michael Davids

Cultural Appropriation in Classical Music?

Though it seems ironic, acultural neutrality is a narrative the West has culturally taught itself. Minute cultural awarenesses break through sometimes, but often the positive changes we are desperate for are obstructed—innocently or intentionally—by the numerous gatekeepers of Western classical music.

A car approaching one of the cabins at the MacDowell Colony in Pererborough, New Hampshire
Articles
Diane Moser

My Journey With Bird Songs

Every day for five weeks, I improvised with songbirds and any other creatures that made their voices heard, and recorded each session. My goal was to become a member of their band, so to speak. I listened deeply to their singing, and carefully infiltrated their ensemble. They, in turn, sang to me and with me and seemed to be okay that I was not only privy to their conversations, but would take part in them as well.

A Japanese face mask on a shelf with other objects that are out of focus.
Articles
Jennifer Jolley

The Curious Case of Keiko Yamada

The evening of August 31 began like most Saturday nights at the start of the fall semester. I was reviewing course plans and readings for the upcoming week, while I casually scrolled through my email. It was late, and I had long since lost whatever drive had propelled me earlier when I received an email… Read more »

Articles
Multiple Authors

Truly a Wenren—Remembering Chou Wen-chung (1923-2019)

Chou Wen-chung is a music giant who mentored us in our creative lives for decades. He has made a huge contribution to the music of our time, yet he is a father-like figure to us. He will be missed by all of us tremendously, and his legacy will live with us forever.

Two people photographed from the back walking on the left and right rails of traintracks in the country.
Articles
Jessica Rudman

Sealing the Deal: Signing the Contract and Completing the Collaboration

Assuming you are setting a completed text in a transactional partnership, you’re now ready to write up your contract, get it signed, and start composing.