Author: Molly Sheridan

It’s not a goodbye, it’s a see you later

A road against the sea with dark, weedy grass

When someone asks me about the path my professional life has taken, I tend to joke that I’m really not that responsible for it. I have most often just agreed when talented colleagues have asked me to do interesting things. Help Carnegie Hall get a podcast off the ground? Sure thing! Become John Luther Adams’s new music girl Friday? Sign me up! But perhaps there was no more important a “yes” than when I stood on the roof deck of the Dia Center for the Arts in Chelsea on a hot June afternoon in 2001 and formally accepted Frank J. Oteri’s offer to come and work on this crazy thing called NewMusicBox.

In the years that followed, I grew in my creative and professional thinking alongside the rapid technological and cultural shifts that the internet threw my way time and time again. I learned to code, program a radio station, and record and produce online video packages with gear that became small enough to stuff into a backpack and cart around the country. I’ve written hundreds of posts at this point, edited thousands more, and have shot probably just as many pictures in seeking to capture the myriad facets of this world we know we can never quite define and so call, simply, new music. It has been a beautiful adventure.

I’m writing this post now, however, because it’s time for me to say “yes” again, but this time it means that I will be setting down my work at New Music USA in order to pick up the next thread in a new direction.

It’s difficult to move on from a job I have committed to so deeply and for so long, but after 18 years, I’m ready for fresh challenges. I credit the amazing opportunities I have been given throughout my time with this organization for instilling in me the skills and experience that will allow me to take on the next stage of my professional life with confidence. I’m so proud of how NewMusicBox has consistently celebrated the act of music creation, often in the creator’s own words, rather than labeling it with star ratings and judging what was “best.” Together with music makers from across the country, we have shared and learned from one another as a community, the website a virtual gathering place for diverse voices and a geographically scattered field. For years my day-to-day has involved spending time listening to artists share the stories of their lives and their music, their challenges and their solutions, both as text on my computer screen and as teachers in front of my camera. It has been an education and a profound honor.

Those stories will continue full force, of course. And I look forward to reading them. For my part, I’ll be over on the West Coast, telling new-to-me stories about food and farming and life at a small inn nestled in Friday Harbor. For those who know me personally, you know that an island with an alpaca farm and no stop lights is a kind of Eden.

So here’s to the road ahead for all of us! Mine is next taking me some 3,000 miles across the country, but I’ll be carrying a dynamic world of friendships and music along with me as I drive.

Quick Cuts for Big Ears

A crowd of people outdoors

Attending the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville is a delicious game of choice and chance, forcing you to pick between such things as overlapping performances by Rhiannon Giddens, Theo Bleckmann, and Joan La Barbara—and that’s just the first night! But with only a week to go until the kickoff of the 2019 edition of the festival (March 21-24), decisions will need to be made, so we’re combing through the schedule and getting excited to consume as much music as we can cram into our ears (and the hours available each day).

Meanwhile, we’ve been digging through our archives and revisiting the amazing conversations we’ve had with some of this year’s featured artists to get ready for what’s ahead.

The time Joan La Barbara gave us a masterclass in extended vocal techniques

(“The Unexpected Importance of Yes” 3/1/06; @ Big Ears here)

These are things to play with; they’re just ways of experimenting. These are the beginning rudiments of extended vocal techniques. What I want to give to you and what I want to give to every singer is just to play with voice, just play with it and see what else it can do. There are all sorts of wonderful things and if you listen to the music of other cultures you’ll hear very, very different uses of the voice.

The time Gabriel Kahane told us the tale of the golf sweater, the crumpled letter, and the Tupperware container of chocolate chip cookies hidden in the back of the closet

(“NewMusicBox LIVE! Presents” 8/4/15; @ Big Ears here)

The time Meredith Monk spent an hour sharing personal stories and trading ideas about music with Bjork

(Radical Connections, 3/16/07; @ Big Ears here)

Counterstream Radio OnDemand: Meredith Monk and Björk


[nm_stream_boxes ids=”277006, 272862, 270886″ title=”More on using the voice with this year’s Big Ears artists:”]

The time Wadada Leo Smith explained how to leave room for personal interpretation

(“Decoding Ankhrasmation” 5/1/12; @ Big Ears here)

I have all kinds of music, but I use the specific language that I have to experiment with instruments and people, sometime extracted from their history, sometime using their history as well. Most things that artists do will find this course.

[nm_stream_boxes ids=”274664, 271855, 277478, 275469, 274957, 273586″ title=”Other deep conversational dives with this year’s Big Ears artists:”]

The time Carl Stone showed us how to make music on a laptop using MAX (in the year 2000)

(“Intellectual Property, Artistic License and Free Access to Information in the Age of Sample-Based Music and the Internet” 11/1/00; @ Big Ears here)

[nm_stream_boxes ids=”271023, 147595, 274129″ title=”More from Stone on intellectual property and the creative experience:”]

The time Alvin Lucier offered us some excellent advice on evaluating new music

(“Sitting in a Room with Alvin Lucier” 4/1/05; @ Big Ears here)

I’m not interested in your opinions, but I’m interested in your perceptions.

With an admittedly overwhelming number of options to explore, last year I took festival founder Ashley Capps’s advice when selecting from among the myriad options:

The art of fully enjoying the festival experience is to “be here now” as they say, and once you make your decision, to go all in and be fully immersed in what that experience has to offer.

It was guidance that held up under the pressure of so many great performances in 2018. We’ll be reporting from the festival again live this year via our social channels if you want to follow along, or get a taste of what’s to come right now with our 2019 Big Ears Playlist.

The Tennessee Theatre

The Tennessee Theatre, Big Ears 2018. Photo: Molly Sheridan

Exclusive Trailer: Milford Graves Documentary “Full Mantis”

If you read our February 2018 interview with Milford Graves, you may recognize Jake Meginsky’s name. He’s the filmmaker who captured some of the inspired concert footage showing Graves in action, which he generously allowed us to include in our presentation.

Now Meginsky’s Full Mantis, the first-ever feature film about Graves, is set to open nationally on July 13 at Metrograph in New York City, and to celebrate he has shared this exclusive new trailer for the film with us.

Milford Graves and Jake Meginsky will attend the Metrograph screening on the opening night of this theatrical release for a Q and A. The film will then open in Los Angeles on July 27 at Laemmle Royal Beverly Hills. It has screened at the Big Ears Festival, SXSW Film Festival, IFFR Rotterdam, Sheffield Doc Fest, The BFI Southbank, and Lincoln Center’s Art of the Real. It won the Independent Visions prize at the Sarasota Film Festival and the Best Documentary Award at the Oak Cliff Film Festival in Dallas. More planned engagements can be found here.

And if you missed it, be sure and check out Aakash Mittal’s excellent conversation with Graves from earlier this year—Milford Graves: Sounding the Universe.

INDEXED: What we’re reading when we read about Lamar’s Pulitzer Win

Ever since Pulitzer Prize Administrator Dana Canedy announced Kendrick Lamar’s win in the music category a bit after 3 p.m. on Monday, news outlets and social media have been alight with hot takes and existential reflections. As the first artist working outside the classical-ish field (with a couple more recent nods to jazz) to snag the prize, the selection of Lamar’s album DAMN. seems to have signaled a lot, both in terms of the parameters of the Pulitzer itself going forward and regarding some larger cultural shifts when it comes to art and gatekeeping.

For those looking for drama, the anxiety and the undercutting were quickly found in the expected Facebook feeds and comments sections. The background on how DAMN. came to be considered among the submitted entries came to light before the day was done.

Nearly 48 hours later, it remains a hot topic in newsrooms across the country, despite being crowded into the chaos that is the daily political news cycle in 2018. We’ve indexed some highlights below.

Kendrick Lamar and the Shell Game of ‘Respect’ (The Atlantic)
The first non-classical, non-jazz winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music needs the accolade less than the accolade needs him.

With Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Win, The World May Finally Be Catching Up to Rap (Pitchfork)
Rappers usually speak of the Pulitzer facetiously…boys from the hood are never Pulitzer winners. Well, until [Monday].

What Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Means for Hip-Hop (The New Yorker)
Doreen St. Félix considers how Lamar’s historic milestone—becoming the first hip-hop artist to win a Pulitzer Prize for music—figures in the grander, affected consecration of blackness within élite spaces.

What the classical-music world can learn from Kendrick Lamar’s Pulitzer Prize (The Washington Post)
Alyssa Rosenberg chats with composer, writer, and performer Alex Temple.

This Year’s Other Two Pulitzer Finalists on Losing to Kendrick Lamar (Slate)
Some classical fans are furious that the rapper won. The guys he beat are thrilled.

Kendrick Lamar Shakes Up the Pulitzer Game: Let’s Discuss (The New York Times)
Zachary Woolfe, the classical music editor of The New York Times, and Jon Pareles, the chief pop music critic, discuss the choice.

Personally, while assembling this index I got the biggest boost out of just spinning the album again—in reverse this time. David Lang, can you tell us which version jurors were listening to?

Did we miss a good take? Drop a link below.

Kendrick Lamar Awarded 2018 Pulitzer Prize for DAMN.

Kendrick Lamar has been awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music for DAMN.. The annually awarded prize is for a distinguished musical composition by an American that has had its first performance or recording in the United States during the previous year. This year the award includes a $15,000 cash prize.


DAMN., by Kendrick Lamar

Recording released on April 14, 2017, a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.

Also nominated as finalists for the 2018 music prize were:

Quartet by Michael Gilbertson

Premiered on February 2, 2017, at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, New York City, a masterwork in a traditional format, the string quartet, that is unconstrained by convention or musical vogues and possesses a rare capacity to stir the heart.

Sound from the Bench by Ted Hearne

Recording released on March 24, 2017, by The Crossing, a five-movement cantata for chamber choir, electric guitar, and percussion that raises oblique questions about the crosscurrents of power through excerpts from sources as diverse as Supreme Court rulings and ventriloquism textbooks.

Last year’s winner in music, composer Du Yun, sent out her congrats to the 2018 winners:

The nominating jury for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize, reviewing 186 music entries, included:

Regina Carter, jazz violinist, Maywood, NJ (Chair)
Paul Cremo, dramaturg/director of opera commissioning program, The Metropolitan Opera
Farah Jasmine Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies, Columbia University
David Hajdu, music critic, The Nation and professor of journalism, Columbia University
* David Lang, composer, New York City (*Pulitzer Prize Winner)

This year’s recipients constitute the 102nd class of Pulitzer Prize winners. The prizes will be awarded at a lunch on May 30, 2018, at Columbia’s Low Memorial Library.

Big Ears Festival Preview: Behind the Scenes with Ashley Capps

With just days to go before the opening of this year’s Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee (March 22-25), Ashley Capps—the driving force behind the annual event—and his team were putting the finishing touches on the four-day line-up of music drawn from an ear-catching range of styles and genres. Capps took a few moments to chat with us about anti-algorithms, festival strategy, and how you market an event that offers its audience both Béla Fleck and Diamanda Galás.

Molly Sheridan: I was about to thank you for making time to chat this close to the festival, but on reflection, you’ve done this professionally for a long time. Maybe this isn’t such a big deal to you anymore!

We’re heading to Big Ears and will be reporting live via FB, Twitter, and Instagram all weekend. Give us a shout out if you’re in town as well!

Ashley Capps: It actually is a big deal for me because in some ways it’s the most personal of all the things that I do. Not merely because it’s small and something that I really care about, but it just involves so much direct interaction with the artists. That’s both one of the things that I love about it and one of the things that makes it a lot more stressful because you don’t have an intermediary that you’re going through. It just requires a lot more just personal hands-on attention. But it’s fine. It’s funny, I was just reading an essay by Zadie Smith last night, this new collection that she just published, talking about the dread and anxiety that basically accompanies any writer around what they do. I think the creative business is just filled with a certain amount of, “Oh my God, am I doing the right thing?”

This year’s Big Ears Festival line-up includes quite a few folks who have also appeared on NewMusicBox or created work supported by New Music USA. So to get ready, we put together this highlight reel of some of our favorite moments from our archive.

MS: I’d like to take it back for just a minute to the birth of the festival. You were already well established in the music field and deeply entrenched in major festival and concert production at that point. What was the big idea for Big Ears when it first emerged—the needs you saw and the goals you had when you put it together that first year in Knoxville?

AC: There are many different threads to all of this. My interest in the music that is presented at Big Ears is something that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. Even as a teenager in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, I was listening to John Coltrane and Stockhausen along with Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. In my early days as a concert promoter, many of the first concerts that I presented were artists—well, some artists that are coming to Big Ears this year! Evan Parker, for one. So for me, there’s a thread of continuity running through all of this that may not be completely evident on the surface.

Even as I got involved in major rock shows and a lot of the bigger concerts and festivals, I’ve always had a great interest in presenting other kinds of music. I first presented Steve Reich back in 1987 when he was on tour with Steve Reich and Musicians. And we operate and manage two of the theaters that are part of the Big Ears experience: the Tennessee and The Bijou. I also own The Mill & Mine with a couple of partners, and there’s always an impetus towards programming all of these venues in a really exciting way. So part of the Big Ears initiative was about that: an interest in presenting all sorts of different kinds of music but doing so in a way that really attracted an audience. In a town the size of Knoxville, Tennessee, getting an audience to fill a 700 or 800-seat theater for many of these acts is very difficult under normal circumstances, so creating a weekend around that experience and bringing in different audiences was one of the ways that I imagined that it might be possible to bring these artists to our theaters and to do so successfully.

MS: That was actually my next question: does this kind of music benefit from this type of fast and furious presentation?

AC: That’s a good question, and I think that there’s probably a little bit of an inherent contradiction in all of that. I sometimes liken the experience to going to a great restaurant. Many great restaurants have a full menu and you’re not expected to eat everything. The menu gives you your chance to put together your own meal. Sometimes you have your chef’s tasting menu, but usually you select your own appetizer and a salad and your entree and so on. If you’re ordering the lamb, you’re probably not ordering the chicken that night, but it’s still a feast. So we’re simultaneously offering an array of options, but I certainly hope people are really participating in whatever experience they choose to have.

MS: So you must pick! In a way, that’s part of a festival’s style.

AC: The interesting thing about the array of options is that it creates an audience interaction and a dynamic that is pretty exciting. It also gives people an opportunity to explore in a way that you can’t necessarily do otherwise. There are probably two or three things that you’re bound and determined to do; this is the reason you came to the festival. But then there are things that you’re interested in, and now you’ve got an opportunity to explore them between the other events that you know you want to see. Then you meet people and they share their passion and excitement about something you’ve maybe never even heard of and you decide, “You know, I get to see this artist regularly. I’m going to go check out this show instead this time and hang out with my new friend.”

The art of fully enjoying the festival experience is to “be here now” as they say, and once you make your decision, to go all in and be fully immersed in what that experience has to offer.

So there is a social dynamic, but there’s also an opportunity for intellectual and aesthetic exploration that is pretty unique. But I have to agree, at some point you can make yourself miserable at a festival if you’re constantly thinking about all the other places that you could be rather than where you are. The art of fully enjoying the festival experience is to “be here now” as they say, and once you make your decision, to go all in and be fully immersed in what that experience has to offer.

Big Ears playlist

Whether or not you’ll make it to Big Ears, you can feast on this playlist featuring music by artists who are part of this year’s line-up.

MS: Stylistically, Big Ears stretches all over the map with intention. Now, we’ve been talking about the blurring of genre for a long time now, but what are the aesthetic guideposts you use when putting these artists together and then how do you talk about that with ticket buyers?

AC: That’s a challenge! In a way, this goes back to the impulse behind the creation of the festival to begin with, because I would be at Bonnaroo, for instance, and talking with musicians and hearing all of these influences coming from all over the place that were showing up in the music. I knew it was there, but it just started hitting me over the head. You start to realize how, for artists, there’s this very rich world of cross-pollination and influence, and people drawing inspiration and ideas from all over and you hear that in the music—sometimes in very subtle ways and sometimes in not so subtle ways. To me, it’s exciting to start to follow those threads and to think about, “How did we get here? Where is this sound coming from? Where are these ideas coming from?” So the programming at Big Ears is kind of based on following some of those threads. And that’s not to say that everything at the festival connects with everything else at the festival; it certainly doesn’t, at least not in an obvious way. But I think that there’s a rich cross-pollination of ideas—these threads of influence that are woven throughout.

MS: But you’re not necessarily explicit about that when you’re talking to the audience that you hope to attract?

AC: Not necessarily. You know, I kind of make it sound like it’s this very academic process, and it’s not like that for me at all. And it’s not forced. It’s just something that I’ve been noticing for a long time. But when it all comes down to it, a lot of the booking is a combination of a lot of different ideas and opportunities. Then you see where all of that leads.

MS: Some things you only learn through experience. As the festival has experimented, what have been the lessons as assumptions meet reality?

AC: We learn from the audiences, as well as from the artists, every year. It sometimes does become difficult to explain why these things coexist at the same festival. On the one hand, I like to think of the festival cultivating a very open-minded and exploratory aesthetic and that the people who come—and generally I think this is true—are very open and very interested in the various aspects of what the festival has to offer. The interesting thing that I’ve occasionally discovered is that certain audiences don’t want to go there! They don’t want to explore that little tangent or they don’t want to share their world with this other audience that they feel may not be appropriately appreciative or that their engagement with it is maybe too superficial. There is an element of tribalism behind all of this. People gravitate towards a certain thing and they identify with other people who like that thing, and sometimes it becomes very insulated and protected. It seems kind of obvious to me now, but it’s one of those things that occasionally takes me by surprise. It’s completely contrary to the motivational aesthetic behind the festival.

A far bigger challenge is simply to get people to embrace their curiosity and dive right in. I just had a conversation with someone yesterday who said, “Oh my God. I don’t know what to do. There are six or eight artists on this festival that I love, but I don’t know who the others are.” And I was like, “Well just go see the six or eight things you want and then figure out what else you want to discover. It won’t hurt; no damage will be done. If you walk into something and you actually hate it, you can walk right back out and go do something else.” So encouraging audiences to kind of embrace that spirit can sometimes be amusingly difficult, besides the fact that going to see eight or twelve concerts over the course of a weekend is probably plenty for most people.

MS: How do you encourage that though when as a society we’re getting more and more locked into our “if you like, you might also like” algorithms? How do you excite or engage people to go exploring things they don’t know, get them out of the house and off the phone long enough to send them on this adventure? Is that getting more difficult as the years go by?

It’s kind of the anti-algorithm. Too many algorithms tend to be reductionist, and I like to think of the festival as being expansionist—that it grows out from instead of in.

AC: That for me is what makes the festival such a rewarding thing to be presenting, because in a sense it’s kind of the anti-algorithm. Too many algorithms tend to be reductionist, and I like to think of the festival as being expansionist—that it grows out from instead of in. It’s less of a snake eating its tail and more expansive, at least in my mind. I hope that’s what it is. As people engage in the experience, I hope it becomes somewhat addictive and I hear enough from people who do have that experience to know that on some level or another it’s really working. I go to festivals regularly and I often discover that the highlight of my experience is often something that I had no idea about before I got there.

MS: It seems like that’s an opportunity that’s fading along with our physical record stores and bookstores. We’re staying home more and yet we’re still hungry for those kinds of experiences.

AC: I hope the festival is in some way filling that void—the social community center that a great record store or a great bookstore can be. This is one of the reasons that we have conversations and panels about the music at Big Ears, because I do think it’s important to talk about the experience and to have the artists talk about their music and to have others talk about what the music and the experience means to them.

MS: Considering the broader social issues getting a lot of discussion over the past year or so, is there any direct intersection with the festival this year or are you more explicitly focused on the presentation of the music?

AC: I feel like the festival expresses a certain diversity that I’m very proud of. I’ve become more conscious of trying to do that in the last couple of years than I perhaps was initially, but it’s still something that comes pretty naturally. I’m still to this day somewhat shocked, for instance, that contemporary female classical composers seem to be overlooked—in a lot of the mainstream programming, at least—because to me they’re writing some of the most extraordinary music of our time. So these are things that we are certainly aware of in the programming at Big Ears, but I don’t book artists simply for that reason. There’s so much great music being created by so many different people out there—certainly by women and artists of all ethnicities—that it’s pretty easy really. I do feel like that’s part of breaking down the boundaries and the barriers and the silos that is at the heart of the Big Ears aesthetic.

MS: So to the programmers who say, “Oh, well we don’t know who to program. Where do you find these people?” You’re saying that’s not been your experience?

AC: No! There are so many great artists. If I struggle with anything, it’s what to put the weight on because really the plate overflows. I am certainly not struggling for ideas for artist to present in any way.  I feel like we’re still just scratching the surface.

Keep Listening: More from the Artists

MS: Big picture question to wrap things up: How do the types of music you present at Big Ears fit into the larger music landscape? Considering the type of presenter you are and your career experiences, I suspect that you’re seeing much wider field trends. Are there lessons—either to apply to Big Ears itself or perspectives that might help individual artists themselves—that are not trickling down from the broader industry that you think would be valuable?

The element of surprise is always to me the secret sauce in any great festival experience.

AC: Last year or the year before, Tom Morris of the Ojai Festival told me—and I think he meant it as a compliment—that this festival is a new music festival produced like a rock festival. My first reaction was, “I think that’s a compliment!” because I think he was talking about the sheer energy that comes from the variety of offerings and the way people are intermingling and interacting with one another. And my second reaction was, “Well, that’s kind of the only thing I know how to do.” So I love the idea that this might be some kind of brilliant insight, but of course that’s the way I would do it.

I do think that there is a certain aesthetic that we bring to the presentation of the music that hopefully demystifies it in some way—takes it out of the rarefied atmosphere that it’s sometimes performed in and opens up the experience for people. That means different things under different circumstances with different kinds of music.

The element of surprise is always to me the secret sauce in any great festival experience. We always strive to present the music at the highest level—so we don’t want to go into a rock club with something that really belongs in a theater—but we do strive to present music in a context that really enhances what the experience is about. There is a tremendous amount of thought that goes into which artist performs in what venue and why and what that experience is going to be like. So it’s not completely serendipitous, even if it might appear to be when you look at the schedule.

I’m excited about the whole festival and how people respond to it. In many ways there are rules, but I can’t tell you what they are because we kind of make them up as we go along.

Trump Budget Proposal Eliminates NEA

Last night reactions to President Trump’s proposed budget began circulating, which includes a call for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In response to the proposal, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) underlined that the “administration makes recommendations, but Congress does budgets.” Arts groups are urging their constituents to contact their representatives.

The NEA has made the following statement via its website:

Statement from National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu

Today we learned that the President’s FY 2018 budget blueprint proposes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts. We are disappointed because we see our funding actively making a difference with individuals of all ages in thousands of communities, large, small, urban and rural, and in every Congressional District in the nation.

We understand that the President’s budget request is a first step in a very long budget process; as part of that process we are working with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to prepare information they have requested. At this time, the NEA continues to operate as usual and will do so until a new budget is enacted by Congress.

We expect this news to be an active topic of discussion among individuals and organizations that advocate for the arts. As a federal government agency, the NEA cannot engage in advocacy, either directly or indirectly. We will, however, continue our practice of educating about the NEA’s vital role in serving our nation’s communities.

Inspect the Unexpected: 10 Years of Counterstream Radio

Counterstream Radio Desk

Ten years ago today, our own Counterstream Radio was launched into virtual existence with an invitation to listeners to “inspect the unexpected.” Since then, our library of recorded tracks has continued to grow, as has our fan base. We’ve now broadcast the work of thousands of composers representing a wide range of styles and perspectives to listeners around the globe.

To inaugurate the station’s launch, we presented a conversation between Meredith Monk and Björk, two vocal artists and composers who had never met but who had plenty of fascinating things to share with one another. We celebrated our first year on the air with a repeat of this “radical connections”-style program, this time featuring a conversation between Phil Lesh and Elliott Carter. You can listen to both of these programs on-demand whenever you wish.

But really, what fans seem to have appreciated most about the station is the unfiltered access it provides to an incredibly wide and diverse catalog of new music. There is perhaps no more powerful advocacy that can be done for the work than by allowing it the space to speak for itself. To celebrate this 2017 anniversary milestone, we’ve programmed a special playlist of pieces that have been recorded since the station launched.


▷▷▷Tune in to Counterstream Radio▷▷▷


Is there a piece you’d like to hear on Counterstream? Drop us a line!

Who are you championing today?

Is your local orchestra programming/university curriculum/conference speaker line-up a little light on the voices of women? Has someone looked you in the eye and shrugged it off, since the field is “mostly men” and so it’s difficult to discover what women are even creating? Through the years here on NewMusicBox, we’ve had some deep chats about gender and creativity, improvements in gender parity, explored the challenges to professional advancement for women, and even made some long lists for those looking to expand their horizons. We’ve also profiled the work of many female creators in the field right here on NewMusicBox. In celebration of #InternationalWomensDay, here are just a few examples for your back pocket the next time you meet someone who is having trouble finding any ladies in the house. There are plenty more in the archives!

Missy Mazzoli: Communication, Intimacy, and Vulnerability

Laurie Spiegel: Grassroots Technologist

Matana Roberts: Creative Defiance

Sarah Kirkland Snider: The Full 360

Singing It: Generations in Jazz

Paola Prestini: Following Her Vision

Lisa Bielawa: Fire Starter

Nadia Sirota: Lyrical Attraction

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich: Goose Bumps in the Candy Shop

Chaya Czernowin: A Strange Bridge Toward Engagement

Du Yun: No Safety Net

Melinda Wagner: It’s Just Who I Am

Caroline Shaw: Yes, a Composer, but Perhaps not a Baker!

Mary Jane Leach: Sonic Confessions

Miya Masaoka: Social and Sonic Relationships

Eve Beglarian: In Love with Both Sound and Language

Arlene Sierra: The Evolution of Process

Exponential: The Music of Zoë Keating

Third New Music Gathering Announces May Line-Up

Composer/Performer Speed Dating

Percussionist Steven Schick, the International Contemporary Ensemble, New Music Detroit, and Michigan’s Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble have been announced as the headlining performers for the third annual New Music Gathering, this year slated for May 11–13, 2017, on the campus of Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Co-founded by musicians Lainie Fefferman, Daniel Felsenfeld, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Matt Marks, and Jascha Narveson, this practitioner-led conference has become a much-praised space for new music colleagues from across the country to meet face-to-face and discuss challenging issues and exciting trends. The full three-day schedule of panels, performances, and lectures built around this year’s theme of “Support” is now available on the NMG site. Topics will range widely, spanning the use of technology and electronic elements in new music to concerns over the level of diversity in the field. Installations and demonstrations, composer/performer speed dating, and even career-oriented “therapy” will be on offer.

audience at NMG panel

Audience at NMG panel in 2016

Being clear that he was speaking on behalf of all the founders, Daniel Felsenfeld acknowledges the growth of the grassroots event but redirects credit for its success back on the wider new music community.

“Our first year was a bit of a nail-biter—would anyone come?—and we were pleasantly surprised, dazzled even, by the enthusiasm, even more so the second year,” he admits. “And we cannot even take credit for this because the community did all of that heavy lifting: we just gave it space. So as we prepare for year three the usual challenges present themselves, just in greater numbers. Also we have, because of some gracious funding help, significantly lowered the price to welcome more people to NMG.”

Registration is now open at the rate of $50/advanced full-3-day conference pass ($60 at the door); $20/day pass. Complimentary passes are available to BGSU students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

The Curiosity Cabinet

The Curiosity Cabinet in performance, part of the NMG in Baltimore in 2016

Previously held in San Francisco and Baltimore, the Bowling Green location takes the festival into the country’s heartland. Felsenfeld explains that the location was chosen for two reasons. “The first was the school’s legendary commitment to new music,” he acknowledged. “And the other the fact that we’ve been on both coasts and need to look elsewhere—and so much is happening either at the college or in neighboring cities that it seemed like an ideal hub for so much excellent music making. One of the principal missions of New Music Gathering is to never be in the same place twice, which means we get to experience more of the musical landscape.”

Part of that experience means getting out of urban hubs. “In a way, the surprise is part of the fun,” Felsenfeld suggests. “We do not know exactly how things will work in Bowling Green, but we do know it will be different and that, to us, is critical.” Conference attendees who may not have met yet or know each other only via social media can look to share transportation and housing through the event’s couch and ridesharing program.