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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Two elevators
Articles
Josh Armenta

Finding Myself in an Alternate Reality, or 12 months on Sand Hill Road

When composer Josh Armenta took a job in Silicon Valley to pay the bills, he quickly felt completely disconnected from his field and craft. However, after opening his mind to the environment he was immersed in, he was able to take away three lessons that would become incredibly important to moving his music career forward.

Oliver Knussen
IMAGE: Maurice Foxall
Articles
New Music USA

2018 Ditson Conductor’s Award Honors Oliver Knussen

Established in 1945, the Ditson Conductor’s Award honors conductors who have a distinguished record of performing and championing contemporary American music.

Lidiya Yankovskaya conducts at the United Nations
Articles
Lidiya Yankovskaya

The Catalyst-Conductor: Conductors as Musical Leaders for the 21st Century

In bypassing institutional gatekeepers, conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya outlines how these conductors have brought relevance, vitality, and an expanding number of previously unrepresented voices into the field and argues that they could help bring the revitalization that the classical music industry so desperately seeks.

loadbang
Articles
Adam Schumaker

Artist Financial Profile: loadbang

A discussion with Executive Director Andy Kozar

Articles
Josh Armenta

When your world falls apart, you learn to build a new one

What I didn’t realize was that I had become so distracted by following the rules across my whole life that I had lost sight of who I was, artistically and as a human being.

Ben Johnston sitting.  April 2013, Germany
Articles
Kyle Gann

From Folk Song to the Outer Limits of Harmony—Remembering Ben Johnston (1926-2019)

Like so many American experimentalists, Ben Johnston (1926-2019) was stylistically multilingual. His conceptual achievement leaves Boulez and Stockhausen in the dust, but moment by moment the music can sound as mild as Ned Rorem.

A glass ball terrarium
Articles
Robinson McClellan

Terrarium: A New Sphere for Growing Art

I am on a mission to bring us toward a place where the art and its communities are woven around and within each other… art is not separate. Such a thing could take many forms; I hope to make it happen in a new kind of community I am co-creating, called Terrarium.

Vivian Perlis with Steve Reich and Libby Van Cleve.
Articles
Libby Van Cleve

A Few Things You Might Not Know About Vivian Perlis (1928-2019)

Most NewMusicBox readers probably already know that Vivian Perlis founded Yale’s Oral History of American Music (OHAM) and was the co-author of Aaron Copland’s biography as well as an award-winning book about Charles Ives, but here are a few things you might not know about her.

Clocks of various sizes all set to different times.
Articles
Olivia Kieffer

Playing in Time: Chronos, Kairos, Crossfades

In this post I want to talk about time: time in our musical relationships with others, and time in the creative process. I’ll start out with the Greek concepts of time, chronos and kairos. For musicians, chronos is metronome time; it can be objectively and quantitatively measured. Kairos, on the other hand, happens when we lose ourselves in the creative moment, and all measures of time are lost.

A street at the Centre Pompidou in Paris on which I calendar grid has been painted showing people walking through various days
Articles
Robinson McClellan

Life in Septuple Time: A Composer Opts In to a Different Sort of Social Media

I have not found a social media platform that fits what I need and what I believe others need, particularly as artists helping to build culture-sustaining communities. So in seeking to create a high-quality, high-trust, human-centric, art-incubating community on the internet, I launched Life in Septuple Time, a small-scale, private, peaceful social media space centered around a thrice-weekly email I send to a limited list of friends and colleagues, with an option for group discussion using Trello software.

A woman with her back facing the camera standing between a blue door and a red door
Articles
Emily Doolittle

Why Yes, I Do Want My Music Performed

Sometimes I open up a conversation about gender balance in concert programming with those who have a record of performing or programming only or primarily works by men. After some back and forth, those reluctant to program equitably inevitably arrive at some version of: “But surely you wouldn’t want your music played just because you’re a woman? Surely you would want it played because you’re good?” As if this is some kind of novel and amazing trump card. The thing is: surely I do want my music played… and I don’t really care why!

Gong personality pic
Articles
Olivia Kieffer

Playing the Brake Drum: A very short guide to percussion parts for composers who write for band

I have performed in the percussion section of bands, on and off, since the seventh grade. Over a span of 25+ years, this includes performing in a wide variety of groups, from junior high to high school, intermediate and advanced college bands, and community bands. I have seen the worst of the worst in percussion parts, and also some of the best. I hope to provide some very practical writing advice for those looking to write for band, as well as for those who may want to fix their major sins and/or minor transgressions ex post facto.

An array of twelve flowerpots with budding plants
Articles
Robinson McClellan

The Internet is Great, We’re Just Not Using it Right

Interacting online is not inherently poisonous, and online interactions are no less meaningful than talking face to face. Different, yes, but just as valuable. If we experience problems relating to each other online, I believe it’s because we’re doing it wrong. The internet provides fertile soil to grow intimate, genuine communities and to foster a connected, organic kind of art-making within such communities.

Online music listening
Articles
Brandon Lincoln Snyder

The Internet is a Strange Place for Music

The internet is a strange place for music. The scrubber bar in digital media players gives people a particular control over time, making it markedly different from any live circumstance. Composer Brandon Lincoln Snyder explores how this shift transforms our listening experience.

Articles
Olivia Kieffer

Playing My Hand: How I Learned to Trust My Composition Teacher

“There I was, age 38, in the second year of my master’s degree, finding out for the first time what it was like to have weekly lessons with a supportive, enthusiastic, encouraging teacher that I trusted,” shares Olivia Kieffer in her post this week on returning to school after years as a professional musician.

Articles
Libby Larsen

Brilliant, Funny, and Fueled by Passion—Remembering Dominick Argento (1927-2019)

Dominick Argento’s name was never on the programs at Big Reggie’s Danceland, but at the time it seemed that in the season of every other major performing arts organization, there he was!  Not only did we hear his music, but he was always in the audience, listening, talking with people, part of the same world he was addressing with his music.

Articles
Robinson McClellan

Let’s Grow Art Organically in Small Batches

As a composer of contemporary concert music, I feel out of touch with that core, person-to-person interaction. I write to fulfill commissions, but often I am still not quite sure who exactly, which specific human beings, I am writing for.

The ID page from Lazare Saminsky's passport showing his photo, country of origin (Russia) and stamps from Jerusalem
Articles
Alex Weiser

Yiddish Classical Music in America

Motivated by a mixture of philosemitic encouragement to explore their Jewish identity, as well as antisemitic discouragement that kept them from feeling fully Russian, Jewish students of the St. Petersburg conservatory banded together in 1908 to create what became known as the The Society for Jewish Folk Music. The Society and the international network of sister organizations and publishing houses it created nurtured a group of fascinating composers, many of whom emigrated to the United States where they integrated into American musical culture with some notable successes.

Back to school
Articles
Olivia Kieffer

Playing the Changes: The Transition from Professor to Student (My First Year as a Composition Major)

“I could never go back to school after teaching,” said many wonderful professors who used to be my colleagues. So why did I do it?

Articles
Nebal Maysaud

It’s Time to Let Classical Music Die

There comes a point in some abusive relationships where the victim wakes up out of their Stockholm syndrome and learns that they need to plan an escape. My fellow musicians of color: it is time to accept that we are in an abusive relationship with classical music.

Some of the 2019 Paul Revere award winning sheet music publications on display on a table in the back of the room during the 2019 Music Publishers Association's annual membership meeting.
Articles
Frank J. Oteri

Pondering New Digital Distribution Models and the Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence—MPA 2019

The 2019 meeting of the Music Publishers Association, which took place last week in New York City, was a combination of reminiscences of the past and planning for the future, both in terms of legal issues and technology.

André Previn and David Fetherolf in Previn's home
Articles
David Fetherolf

An Unassuming Musical Polymath with Great Curiosity and Knowledge—Remembering André Previn (1929-2019)

André Previn died before completing his final commission and, since his death, I’ve been absorbed in realizing it for the premiere at Tanglewood on August 3 of this year. The work is a monodrama about Homer’s Penelope, with text written by Tom Stoppard and a surprise actor in a speaking role. Commissioned by The Boston Symphony… Read more »

An historic drawing of a group of five Aleppo musicians performing on (from left to right) a daff, a saz, a ney, a kamancheh, and a pair of naqqāra
Articles
Nebal Maysaud

I’m Learning Middle Eastern Music the Wrong Way

If it weren’t for colonization, I would be studying my own culture’s music. And would probably have more success as an artist. So I took my Bachelors of Music degree and set out on my next journey: to learn the musical tradition of my own people.

Mic check
Articles
Dave Molk

Programming for Justice

The disparity in representation within new music is a longstanding and well-documented problem. We know this. What then holds us back? Why does disparity in representation remain such a problem?