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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Jeffrey Mumford started off pursuing a career in the visual arts before music took over his imagination, but his lifelong obsession with clouds translated over from painting into musical composition.
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.
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.
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 »
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.
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?
Structure and Freedom in Collaboration (A.k.a. The Incomplete Non-Idiot’s Guide to Workshopping with Musicians)
A.k.a. the incomplete non-idiot’s guide to workshopping with musicians
My experience as a queer Lebanese composer made me unique. I had the opportunity to authentically represent my culture through music. As I grew older, I realized that the spots for Middle Eastern representation has been filled for a while. But not by the hundreds of Middle Eastern and North African composers and artists. Instead, our stories were being controlled, and even monopolized, by white composers.
Contemporary classical music is a field overrun with socially conscious and politically liberal musicians. So why are there so few composers of color? While white minority composers see progress, people of color are left behind.
Melissa Dunphy frequently creates music which is inspired by current events. What is striking about her music is how deeply it relates to her ideas about social justice and inclusivity.
A Week of New Music Celebrations: the BMI Student Composer Awards, the Ceremonial & the Underwood Readings
The close proximity of the BMI Student Composer Awards, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Ceremonial, and the American Composers Orchestra’s Underwood New Music Readings, which have all taken place in New York City this week, have turned the penultimately week of May into a multi-day celebration of new music.
In a few weeks, Dale Trumbore is publishing a book about anxiety in the creative process—Staying Composed: Overcoming Anxiety and Self-Doubt Within a Creative Life. In advance, she shares her own journey toward listening to her mind and body and learning to ask for help when she needs it.