For Huang Ruo, music–like theater–exists in a four-dimensional space. There is also a larger purpose in most of Huang Ruo’s work, whether it is to call attention to stories of people, particularly Asians and Asian-Americans, whose voices have often not been heard, or to provide an environment for reflection and healing.
Conductor Ryan McAdams shares how the myth of the “ideal” conductor, perpetuated at conservatory and within Western culture, glorifies destructive lifestyles such as living in isolation, excessive behaviors, constant striving for perfection, appearing omniscient, and hiding all human vulnerabilities.
Among the recurring themes of our conversation with composer-pianist-conductor Matthew Aucoin was generosity and risk-taking, something that is in abundance in Aucoin’s own music as well as his personality. Over the course of an hour we talked about his opera Eurydice which was just performed at the Metropolitan Opera, the first commercial recording of his music, his just released new book about opera, The Impossible Art, which was also just released, his desire to develop new musical repertoire that addresses climate change, and much much more.
Terri Lyne Carrington was practically born into jazz, but she is not a traditionalist. By embracing elements from rock, rhythm and blues, and hip-hop into her own compositions, she is making music that is very much about the present moment. And in founding the Berklee Institute for Jazz and Gender Justice and now partnering with New Music USA on the new Next Jazz Legacy program, Terri Lyne hopes to build a future that dismantles the jazz patriarchy and eliminates the gender imbalance among instrumentalists.
Spending an hour over Zoom chatting with Renée Baker about her more than two thousand musical compositions and perhaps almost as many paintings was inspirational as well as motivational. Renée does not let anything deter her and while her music is extremely wide ranging and gleefully embraces freedom of expression, her daily schedule is precise and meticulous.
“Music is supposed to have meaning,” says Dr. Adolphus Hailstork whose music captures the tribulations and the occasional triumphs of African Americans in this country. Hailstork’s 80th birthday year got off to an impressive start with a performance of his music as part of the Presidential Inauguration ceremony of Joe Biden. Since then there has been a world premiere of a concert aria he composed to commemorate the centenary of the Tulsa Massacre and he awaits the premiere of his recently completed Fourth Symphony.
Susie Ibarra’s collaborative approach has informed her work with jazz, classical, indie rock, and traditional Philippine musicians.
For the past 20 years, Ricky Ian Gordon has been creating works for the stage—operas, musicals, or one-of a-kind music/theater hybrids—and getting them produced one after another, seemingly without a pause. But 14 months ago, everything came to a screeching halt as the world went into lockdown due to the pandemic.
The only thing that is almost as exciting as watching and listening to a multimedia performance by Pamela Z is to hear her talk about it.
Judith Lang Zaimont is defiantly unwilling to be typecast for creating music in a particular style, which makes her music always a welcome surprise.
Kris Bowers creates music that is attuned to whatever project he is working on–whether it’s the score for the 2018 motion picture Green Book, the 2019 EA Sports videogame Madden NFL 20, the 2020 Phyllis Schlafly-inspired Hulu series Mrs. America, or the 2021 Netflix sensation Bridgerton.
Julie Giroux, who creates music primarily for wind band, takes musicians and audiences on a journey that is a real sonic adventure and, at the same time, is always fun.
Valerie Coleman is committed to storytelling through her music, no matter the idiom. “I recognize that there are stories that are yet untold that if they were told, they would transform all those who would hear them. So it’s my job to create music that allows that transformative power to happen.”
A year after writing “It’s Time to Let Classical Music Die,” Nebal Maysaud says, “I still believe … that classical music as a field does still have a lot of conservative and neoliberal values. But what I’ve seen also indicates that, while our structures and power structures reinforce these racial hierarchies of white supremacy, there are a lot of individuals who are aware of that and want to make a change in that power structure; and are not content with how we abusing people of color in the field of classical music.”
David Skidmore, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and Sean Connors of Third Coast Percussion explain how they introduce audiences to percussion instruments, how they each came to devote their lives to making music, the dos and don’ts for writing and performing for percussion music, the staggering range of music they have nurtured from an extraordinarily wide range of creators as well as some of their own original compositions, and finally what they are all have been doing to cope during our present unprecedented and uncertain time.
Nathalie Joachim’s exuberant, forward-looking attitude about music-making and her inspiring comments about how she came to follow her creative path still represent our collective future once we are able to get past the tragedy currently affecting all of our lives.
Although Viet Cuong’s compositional output began with works for wind ensemble, he has branched out into numerous other mediums including chamber and orchestral music.
Composer/performer Molly Joyce explains why perpetuating the notion that only a small select few are physically worthy enough excludes most people from the experience of making and ultimately enjoying art.
Bonnie Jones’s music, which fuses electronic noise and text, emerges in large part from the sounds of her childhood, growing up on a dairy farm. Those sounds made an impression, but Jones’s first artistic interest was in creative writing.
Bryce Dessner has learned different lessons from his immersion into very different kinds of music-making and these lessons have made him a stronger musician, whether he is writing songs and playing lead guitar in the indie rock band The National, co-scoring the soundtrack for the motion picture The Revenant, or composing a double piano concerto for the Labeque sisters.
Myra Melford is equally comfortable performing a blues tune, jamming in a completely free-improvisatory setting with other musicians, or exploring more predetermined structures in the compositions she writes for her own ensembles. “I understand that a lot of what I do works in the jazz context … Jazz is an inclusive music.”
Tyshawn Sorey’s music emerges from a vast array of experiences, communities, storytelling, and a deep engagement in mentor-mentee relationships. Throughout his rigorous career as a composer and performer, Sorey regularly teaches and mentors other artists to support the creation of their own work.
Urgency is an important ingredient in everything Lucy Dhegrae does—whether singing music by Eve Beglarian, Joanna Newsom, Jason Eckardt, Gabrielle Herbst, and many others, or curating Resonant Bodies, a three-day festival of contemporary vocal music that takes place annually in New York City and which has now had iterations in Chicago as well as in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. Urgency is also what fuels her life’s mission: to be empowered as a singer and to empower other singers which, aside from a desire to make musical experiences fairer, yields better performances.
Juliana Hall has given her almost completely undivided attention to composing art songs for over 30 years, and her love for poetry and the voice has only grown stronger.