Joan Tower: Made in America

Joan Tower: Made in America

Joan Tower begins the biggest premiere marathon in new music history.

Written By

Frank J. Oteri

Frank J. Oteri is an ASCAP-award winning composer and music journalist. Among his compositions are Already Yesterday or Still Tomorrow for orchestra, the "performance oratorio" MACHUNAS, the 1/4-tone sax quartet Fair and Balanced?, and the 1/6-tone rock band suite Imagined Overtures. His compositions are represented by Black Tea Music. Oteri is the Vice President of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) and is Composer Advocate at New Music USA where he has been the Editor of its web magazine,, since its founding in 1999.

Joan Tower in conversation with Frank J. Oteri
At the New York office of G. Schirmer/Associated Music
September 15, 2005—1:00 p.m.

Rock bands tour all over the world basically playing the same set of songs. Jazz groups will also usually maintain a specific set list for most of their gigs when they are traveling. Yet orchestras, when they commission a new piece, will rarely if ever play it more than once. The result is a lot of stillborn music since we all know how hard it is to get a second performance and frequently the first is under-rehearsed and doesn’t reveal what the music was fully meant to sound like.

Sometimes an orchestra will tour with a new piece of music, but such opportunities for composers are few and far between. Orchestra tours are a logistical nightmare and, in today’s economic climate, they are happening less and less. Now, imagine if somehow a piece of orchestral music could tour without the orchestra. That is exactly what is happening with Joan Tower’s Made in America. Beginning this month, this roughly 15-minute work will embark on a tour of all 50 American states, featured on programs by some 65 orchestras over the next 18 months. So for anyone reading this in the United States, a live performance of this music is likely only a drive away.

This extraordinary and unprecedented exposure for a piece of new American music is the result of a partnership program between the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet The Composer with major financial support from the Ford Motor Company Fund. With this level of support, smaller orchestras around the country can take part in the kind of high profile commission usually reserved only for the top tier. Plus, a myriad of carefully prepared and ready-to-use resources made available for all the participating orchestras—including program notes, educational materials, and even press releases—takes care of much of the time consuming work that often makes administrators reluctant to program a new piece.

It seems so natural, so right. So why hasn’t it ever been done before? And what can we do to make it happen again and again with music by lots of other composers?

When we use prizes and gimmicks to attract attention we lose sight of the fact that a composer’s greatest calling card is his or her music. Joan Tower kept reminding me of this when we spoke only two weeks before the biggest premiere marathon in new music history.

Frank J. Oteri: The first thing that strikes me about the Made in America project is how much sense it makes, artistically and economically. So why is this the first time it has ever happened?

Joan Tower: Every classical music world has its own culture, its own DNA, its own view toward what living composers are, and it also has its own activity of repetition. For example, in the quartet world: if you get hooked into a quartet that loves a piece that they commissioned or whatever, they will play it all over the place. They’ll play it in Europe and the United States, if they have that kind of touring capability. In the orchestra world, it tends to get slightly frozen. I think if someone did a study on it, you’d see that most pieces are played in one place, one time. Then there are certain pieces that make such a big musical impact for whatever reason that they get repeated just by the natural fuel of the strength of the piece. But I think you’d find that those pieces are in the minority.

FJO: It seems like such an incredible waste.

JT: I know. It’s unlike the band world, for example. I know the band world a little bit now because I wrote a band piece and I have another piece that was arranged for band. First of all, it’s an eager world. They do lots of consortium commissions—they get together 34 bands and then they commission a composer. They don’t have money enough to commission one composer [on their own], so they get together. And they do this constantly. And they share conductors, they share soloists. You could say the orchestra world shares soloists, too, but the band world, I don’t know, it seems to be a lot more generous and a lot more interested in composers.

FJO: But orchestras were once all very interested in composers. Why do you think the orchestra world wound up where it is right now?

JT: You know, I’ve traveled around the major orchestra world for 20 years now, but I’ve never been in the community orchestra world—hardly, once—and in the youth orchestra world three times. These are different levels of worlds and we just had a symposium on this in Aspen. [American Symphony Orchestra League CEO] Henry Fogel was on the panel and he said, “You know there’s a whole culture of orchestras out there that we’re not actually talking about. We’re talking about a certain level of orchestra.” And that was a very interesting statement to me because I think there’s some truth in that. I don’t know this world yet—I’m about to get to know it in spades!—but I’m very curious as to the way they view me as a living composer, because I’m a litmus test. I’m very curious as to how they’ll negotiate my piece. Now, I know some of them are much better than others; there are all levels. But I’m curious whether the piece is strong enough to make them want to work harder and what the level of passion is that’s going to be in there. Part of that depends on the piece and part of that depends on the nature of their community orchestra and the people in their orchestra. And the conductor. I’m curious to see how they’re going to deal with me. Are they going to call me up? Are they going to ask me questions? Are they going to invite me to talk to the orchestra or not? That’s up to different kinds of conductors.

FJO: So all that stuff hasn’t been worked out with each of the orchestras?

JT: No, because I haven’t started yet! I’ll come back to you in two years and tell you then.

FJO: Now, what kinds of arrangements do you have with these orchestras in terms of how many rehearsals they’re going to do? Are there a fixed set of parameters that they must follow?

JT: It depends on how much time I can spend [with them]. They overloaded the fall because everybody wanted to get in on that first wave. So they double booked and triple booked concerts, and I can only be at one [at a time]. And also I’m conducting three of them this fall and one in the spring.

FJO: But there’s no contract that if they’re signed on to do this piece they have to have four rehearsals, let’s say.

JT: No, that’s up to them because they’re all different. Some of them started rehearsing already; some of them will only be rehearsing that week. They are all [different] levels.

FJO: Now, in terms of interpretive leeway, we had the honor of being at—the new word that’s getting bandied about—the “avant-premiere” of the piece. I was so excited to be able to hear the piece, but I was even more excited to be able to hear it twice because it sounded very different: the first time with the student conductors trading off each other and the second time with you conducting. I was peering over the shoulder at somebody’s score, and it was so much looser when you conducted it than when these students conducted.

JT: Probably because I’m a looser conductor. [laughs] I’m not as “trained” as they are, but I know the piece. They don’t know the piece. They were following their directions and I decided that some of the directions weren’t working too well, so I changed them. I can do that!

FJO: Can they do that in performance? What are the guidelines? Will people in City X be hearing pretty much the same thing as people in City Z?

JT: No, because the hall will be different, the orchestra will be different, the level will be different, the conductor will be different—there are a lot of factors here. I think most conductors will try to honor the tempos until they get to know it better. If there are two or three or four performances, then they might say, “You know, this tempo could be a little faster.” But I think the first time they do it they’re not going to say immediately, “Oh, I think this could be faster.” It takes a little bit of time to get into those kinds of changes.

FJO: So you’re okay with that kind of interpretive leeway?

JT: Oh, sure, whatever works, and if they have suggestions for something to do better, absolutely. I’ve already gotten one suggestion.

FJO: So the piece has changed to some extent, I guess?

JT: Oh, yes, it’s a livable thing. It’s going to change, and I’m going to change it. And it’s great. It’s like what Mahler used to do, though of course he was the conductor, too, so he could do that. But it’s a living entity. It shouldn’t be fixed in cement.

FJO: But that’s so opposite of what the orchestra tradition has become.

JT: I know.

Frank J. Oteri: You hadn’t written for orchestra in a number of years and actually swore it off. Have you written differently having to write for people who might not be the top-level players?

Joan Tower: Oh, yeah. I had several player advisors and we went over it with a fine tooth comb. What happened was I found myself getting more and more confined. Can they handle that height? Can they handle that speed? Not too fast. No, no, no. Not that high. Not quite that high. And oh, you can only feature certain people. You’ve got to be careful who you feature.

FJO: So who can’t you feature?

JT: Well, [laughs] I don’t want to do damage to those poor instruments, but you can imagine. I can tell you who you can feature because there are reasons for it. The flute, because flutists are trained, and clarinetists and trumpets, they come up in the band world, and they’re trained to follow conductors. And they’re trained to count and play in tune, and they’ve got a lot of chops going for them at an earlier time. And then the first violinist, because the first violinist should be the best player in the orchestra…

FJO: Strangely enough the lessons learned writing for these community orchestra do translate back into writing for the “A” level orchestras. You might be working with the best possible players, but maybe they’re not going to give it the rehearsal time that it needs to be the piece that you want people to hear.

JT: Well, the top-level [American] orchestras can read like nobody in the world, including the European orchestras and every other orchestra. The players in the major orchestras are the most unbelievable sight-readers I have ever encountered in my life. The Chicago Symphony sight read my Silver Ladders, they literally sight read. The percussionist took the part home, I think, to get the choreography, but the others didn’t. It’s a matter of pride sometimes, not to take it home.

So they have “X” amount of time to learn this piece and, boy, they just learn how to connect. But it’s not an architectural blueprint. It’s not like the nails have to be that size for every house, you know what I mean? So the burden for the composer on the page is extraordinary when it comes to the major orchestras, because you get exactly what you put down.

FJO: No interpretation?

JT: Well, maybe in the solos and maybe the conductor understands more about the piece, which is great if they do, then you get more interpretation, especially with a second and third performance.

FJO: Now, is this because the orchestra’s repertoire and way of doing things is completely fixed with doing standard repertoire works that everybody knows and everybody’s heard a zillion times?

JT: It’s very complicated and I’m still trying to figure it out. You’re dealing with a large entity of people. It’s not like you’re dealing with a string quartet. So you cannot say, “Oh, excuse me conductor, I think it’d be great if you did this or that.” Why? Because there’s no time for that. It creates a discussion because the person next to you says, “I don’t agree with that. I think we should do it this way.” My first conducting gig was at the Scotia Festival and I did Barber’s Adagio for Strings, which is one of my favorite pieces. They were all first chair players from different orchestras in Canada and the United States, and I said, “I’m new to this and I’m not sure about the tempo of the Adagio.” I got six different ideas of what that tempo could be. There was a 20-minute argument/discussion, and I just stood there like this [crosses arms] waiting for them to finish and finally I said to myself, this is not a good idea. We are now 20 minutes into this. I said, “Thank you so much for your input.” And that was the last time I asked them anything! I saw what the problem was.

FJO: So sometimes a non-democratic model is more efficient.

JT: [Sighs] Yeah. The creativity has to continue but it has to be there on another level. Like St. Luke’s does, for example. You create a new music series, an old music series, you back up a singer or you back up Metallica, which they’ve done at Madison Square Garden, and so what you’re getting are these floating choices that these people have which keeps them more creative. They have a lot of input in everything, and I get the feeling that it’s a much happier band of people.

FJO: You began writing for orchestra long after being a composer of exclusively chamber music and being a chamber musician yourself as the pianist with Da Capo which you founded. So the orchestral way of making music, where one person says what to do and you only have a certain amount of time to work on something, was very different from the world you knew where, ideally, everyone in a chamber group makes decisions together. It’s a very different way of thinking.

JT: Oh, very different. It basically puts the burden on the page for you, and if you don’t have that absolutely in order, you’re going to suffer. Composers don’t always understand how to get that in order because they are not allowed to be heard very much, so there’s not a lot of advanced training for hearing what works and what doesn’t. It’s a difficult situation for a young composer, because it’s like being a young conductor. They have to have an orchestra to try things out. They can’t do it in front of a mirror forever.

But in some chamber music settings like the string quartet world, the page is flexible and they have to carve it out, because in order to be competitive with other string quartets they need to really have a creative voice.—No, I think we should do it off the string a little more. No, absolutely not. What are you talking about? No, look, let’s just try it.—And the dialogue is very tough in the string quartet. They have to learn how to fight and interact and balance, but a composer comes into this and it’s like old home week because they’re thinking the same way. You’re walking into an actually creative setting, so it’s just great because it’s natural. But there’s more time and there’s less people: there aren’t 16 first violins and it’s a very different setting.

FJO: So why write for orchestra if it doesn’t have this creative edge?

JT: Well, it’s just such an incredible palette of color and there are so many exciting things you can do with it. But the human situation for me is very difficult, and I unfortunately go into all musical situations as a human being, not just as a person on paper.

FJO: What’s so interesting to me is that in a lot of your orchestral pieces, you have specific players in mind. When you were the composer-in-residence in St. Louis, you got to know the musicians you were writing for and you wrote to their specific strengths. You gave up writing for orchestra because of how anonymous it can be, yet Made in America is even more anonymous because there are 65 different orchestras involved. There’s no way you can know all those people and, as you said yourself, you’re not even going to be at all the performances.

JT: But those people are there not because they’re making a lot of money. They’re in those orchestras because they want to play and they want to be there. That’s what I’m curious about. How does that effect what they do with my piece? And I’m going to hear that right away. And I’m going to hear that the chops are not as good, the intonation is going to be not as good, everything is going to be “not as good,” but I can hear the effort coming through. I mean, I face clarinetists playing my Wings at all kinds of levels, and I can hear within three measures what the level is, how long they worked on the piece, what their commitment is to this piece, and how much they’re willing to go against the page. I can hear that within three measures because I’ve done this so much. And I’m just very curious to see how my piece is going to come off of the page to them and how enthusiastic they’re going to be about making it work the best way they can. That’s what I’m really interested in.

FJO: In a way, this is the ultimate piece to write knowing it’s going to get so many performances.

JT: [laughs] It’s a huge burden.

FJO: Well, I’m thinking about it in terms of the future, because you have a lot more pieces in you. Where do you go from here?

JT: I just finished a brass quintet for Juilliard’s 100th, and I’m just about to finish a piece for Orpheus which is going to the other end of the earth from the community orchestra. They’re really a large chamber group and very different from a major orchestra type setting. They don’t have a conductor. It’s a very personal ensemble. So that’s why I accepted that. And I just finished a viola concerto which is going to be done this year, too. The concertos I never opted out of for the simple reason that I’m going through one person who’s up front and that becomes the musical connection to the orchestra.

Frank J. Oteri: Your music is so much about individuals and personalities, yet you’ve insisted on never writing vocal music.

Joan Tower: I’ve really thought about this a lot, because the resistance is so high with me and a lot of singers have asked me. So every time they ask me, I think about it. I finally did accept a youth chorus, for Transient Glory. That’s going to be my entrée, but writing for young voices in a group is sort of like dealing with instruments. I can do just anything. I don’t even know what text. I probably won’t even use a text. But I started thinking that composers are pretty much split in history down one side or the other—I think somebody should do a dissertation on this. There are a few—like Mozart, Schumann, Schubert, even Bolcom in this century, and Rorem to a certain extent—that have done both, and some very easily on both sides, but very few. The majority of composers are on one side of the fence or the other.

FJO: But they’ll have maybe one work or a handful of works in the other.

JT: Right. Beethoven really struggled with the voice.

FJO: Yet he brought the voice to the symphony.

JT: Yeah. Anyway, it’s not like I’m particularly special in that respect.

FJO: But is there an aesthetic decision involved as well?

JT: Yeah, I think that composers express themselves through “meaning” of different kinds, and the vocal meaning has a verbal connection to it, so they can’t get going without the verbal inspiration. That’s one kind of meaning. The others don’t want to have anything to do with verbal meaning; this is pure, abstract, musical, instrumental, whatever you want to call it. You can make whatever you want of it.

FJO: Sonata No. 12.

JT: Yeah. And I think there’s a very clear distinction between those two types of composers.

FJO: But that’s funny because I was listening to the new Naxos CD of your music and I was really taken with the solo piano pieces. They were all based on phrases from John Ashbury poems, and I thought, wow, she’s responding to literature here.

JT: No! What happened was I wrote a piece and found the phrase that I needed for the piece. [laughs] That’s really what happened. Some of the phrases were actually beautiful. I just loved “vast antique cubes.” Whoa, that’s a great phrase. So in that one I tried to emulate that idea somehow. But the others: “Holding a Daisy,” “Throbbing Still” is pretty clear; and “Or like a…an engine” was attached to a motoric piece.

FJO: But there’s definitely a language-music connection. Just by giving something a title, you’ve given a piece a very specific meaning it might not otherwise have had, and you’ve done this many times with everything from Silver Ladders to the Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman.

JT: Do you know Debussy’s piano preludes? They’re beautiful titles—”Sunken Cathedral,” “Footsteps in the Snow.” And if you’ve played those pieces, those images are just perfect for those pieces. Well, it turns out he wrote those images after the pieces, not before. He found the right image to fit the piece, and that’s basically what I do. I guess it’s just a way of creating a little window into the piece that isn’t too heavy. You know what I mean? Like Wings for clarinet. Well, that just evokes flying, right? And that’s one of my best titles. And then I have some that are too confining, like Amazon. I’ve had people come up to me after and say, I heard the jungles there, and I heard the monkeys,” and I’m like, “What are you talking about?”!

FJO: It’s interesting, though, because except for maybe the concertos, you don’t tend to use boilerplate titles for things. You don’t call something String Quartet No. 2, and in a way that’s sort of distancing yourself from the classical music canon of the past. So you clearly see the need for having the titles.

JT: Yeah, I want to have an action and an image that’s not too overwhelming. And I work hard on the titles. I really do. I spend a lot of time. The last one I have is Purple Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra. I love that.

FJO: Bringing it back to Made in America, that’s an odd title.

JT: I gave up on that one. No, actually I went around and around and around the block. The project is called Made in America and I featured “America the Beautiful” as the main tune, so I thought, why not just call it that, Made in America? So, it’s not bad. It was a little bit of a cop-out though.

Frank J. Oteri: What you are writing is clearly part of the classical music tradition but contemporary music is usually not on the radar of the people who listen to classical music. Many times you’ll hear listeners say that they “don’t get” the new piece on a program. You talked about creating windows into pieces with titles, so you’re clearly thinking about the audience. But who exactly is that audience?

Joan Tower: Wow, that’s a loaded question. That’s a heavy question. If somebody is sitting in an audience and listening to a piece of mine and they “don’t get it,” I don’t care who they are, I don’t care how old they are or how much new music they’ve heard, where they’re from, how much education they’ve had, if they’re not musical, let’s say they’re just not musical, then that’s a problem. But let’s say they’re basically musical people and they don’t get my piece, then I haven’t done my job. I really believe that.

We go to this gym and there’s this fireman. His name is Bill. He’s retired from the New York Fire Department, and he’s this big burly guy, and he’s always talking about how uneducated he is. He’s embarrassed by it, but I keep telling him to shut up. But he’s just a wonderful guy so I invited him to one of my concerts. I think the only thing he ever heard was rock, pop, folk maybe. But never classical. I said to him, “Look, you’re probably going to hate this stuff,” but he says, “I’ll try.” He comes to the concert and I gave a little talk ahead of time and I said there’s a guy in this audience who is going to be really challenged by this and I’m just hoping I’ll get to him somehow. So the music was played and he came up to me, this big burly guy, and he threw his arms around me and he says, “You know, I really liked it! I really liked the music.” And that meant a lot to me, because I had crossed a lot of barriers there. This is totally new stuff to him. Somehow I just wanted to get him, for the connection to be made. I think there’s a power of music that goes beyond style that is very, very important. I think these distinctions between classical, folk, rock, jazz, electronic, are a little bit strong. I say to somebody I’m a classical composer. They feel it’s too elitist for them; it’s a category that’s a little too prejudicial. I think for somebody that’s musical, some pieces will just get to them no matter what.

FJO: It’s that word “classical.” Everybody hears classical music and they think Mozart. That’s not living music. And then for the people within the community, you say modern classical music, and that conjures up another.

JT: Oh, right, exactly, I’m outta here, right? [laughs] That’s way too smart for me. That’s like me with art. I get totally scared when somebody takes me to a museum. Ohmigod, I won’t be able to know what that’s about. I’ve tried, I really have tried, but I’m just not basically too visual. I just have to accept that. And I think that’s where the delineation comes. There are people who are “musical” that go to all kinds of things, and then there are people who are just non-musical. They just don’t make musical connections. That’s the delineation that one has to be careful of.

FJO: We both kind of joked around and said, “Oh, that’s too smart for me,” but there was definitely a sound world that composers had that was distancing in the recent past. It spawned some great music and there are some composers who are still actively pursuing this style, but it had a distancing effect with the mainstream audience for classical music and never really reached a large public beyond that.

JT: You mean the Schoenberg school? Yeah, right.

FJO: You came up in the heat of this as a composer. That’s how you were trained. But at some point you made a break with it. Was it being active performing music—dealing with other musicians and with audiences on a regular basis—that led you away from writing that kind of music?

JT: I think when you’re young you tend to be swept up in your locale, whatever is nourishing you in one way or another, and that could be many different things. I was swept up in the whole serial group which was led by Charles Wuorinen at the time. He and I were very close friends. I watched him create all these concerts uptown, and conduct them and play, so I said that’s what I want to do. So I created some concerts downtown at Greenwich House so that I wouldn’t compete with him uptown. And I played the piano. I couldn’t conduct because at that time a woman conducting was…forget it! This was in the ’60s.

I was impressed with his brightness, and also Babbitt, Wolpe, and Boretz—all extremely bright people. And caring, too. But there was a stylistic bent in all of this which was very “bright” [laughs] and I always felt like I was in the wrong place. I would try to read their articles and I spent months trying to understand them. It wasn’t actually until I heard some other music like Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and a piece by Crumb; I remember those two pieces. I heard them for the first time and I was struck by the simplicity and the power behind these pieces. I was just blown away. But, of course, I couldn’t say anything, because at that time that kind of music was way too simple and too direct. The music was supposed to be very complex and very layered and very pointillistic. That’s the music we were involved with. That’s what we thought was the world, or that’s what I thought because that was my world. And then I heard those two pieces and I was jarred out of that world. It took me quite a while to get out, but I finally pulled away.

FJO: It’s interesting that you say Charles was doing this stuff uptown and you were doing this stuff downtown.

JT: I wasn’t stylistically doing Downtown.

FJO: I know. But since you just said that, the so-called Uptown/Downtown war is another thing that really divided our community. Some people say it’s over and we’re now in a more tolerant era of polystylism; others say it’s still going on. Kyle Gann says it’s still going on. Where do you see the current compositional landscape?

JT: Kyle Gann is a colleague of mine, and he’s a writer and a thinker. Part of his talent is thinking about these things and articulating them, so he’s interested in the path of history very seriously. He’s an incredibly informed guy, about American music in particular. I’m not that type at all. I’m not a historian, I’m not a scholar. I know a lot of music, but I couldn’t tell you how it fits into the cultural path of this or that. I couldn’t. I just don’t have that kind of talent. So I think you have to be careful who’s talking about what. I think we live in an incredibly interesting age in the sense that we have a lot of freedom of choice for the first time in history, really big choices. Maybe a little too big, but there’s something there for everybody. If you want to just do DJ music, you can go over here. If you want to do just strict straight pure improvisation, you go over here. If you want to do controlled improvisation, music with dance, jazz, notated music—I’m in the notated crowd—you’ve got all these choices. And I think the competition in some people’s minds has to do with money, awards, visibility, those kind of outside factors, which can play a role in jealousy. Like, why is Yo-Yo Ma only playing Chris Rouse or Richard Danielpour? Why isn’t he playing Terry Riley? You can get jealous with that kind of visibility level, which is natural. But I’m not so sure that the Uptown/Downtown thing has the same competitiveness that it used to have. There were actually two groups, Uptown and Downtown, Cage and Babbitt, basically, and then a few Midtown people like Copland. But it was pretty small. It was a small group of people. Now it’s a huge group of people. There are ten new music groups Uptown and there are twenty Downtown groups, it’s just proliferated like that.

FJO: But, of course, the ironic corollary to that is with 500 channels to choose from, how many people are watching? Day in and day out you hear all these reports about some orchestra dying or that they’ve made the very last big cast opera recording on a major label. There’s been a Cassandra death knell for big “C” classical music, and for notated music. It’s less than 3 percent of the market, but 3 percent is an awful lot of people if you do the math.

JT: Yeah, and also I think you have to be careful of the statistics, like you have to be careful of polls and stuff like that. I’m an old “classical,” “notated,” whatever you want to call it. I see lots more string quartets playing new music. I see lots of flute players commissioning right and left. They have 5,000 flutists at the flute convention. Clarinetists up the wazoo who can play rings around everybody. Saxophone players are coming up now. There are a few laggards among players, but I won’t mention who they are.

FJO: But certainly a project like Made in America has the potential for gigantic outreach. So might this ultimately be the way to enlarging the audience for this kind of music?

JT: It depends entirely on how my music goes over. That’s the burden. If my piece has some impact, and draws the players in a little bit, or a lot, and draws the audience in a little bit or a lot, then it has some reverberation. I’m putting the entire burden of this thing on me, because the music is the center of everything no matter what anybody’s telling you. Whatever the PR, marketing, historical value, blah, blah, blah, that’s going on around it, you still have this living entity in front of you that has to do its work, whatever that is. I’ve believed that ever since the ’60s. I tell young composers that. They always ask: What competition should I apply to? Will you write a recommendation? How do I get to this group? All this career stuff, and I’m like, wait a minute. Who’s in your backyard? Who are the players in your town? Who are the players in your school? Go to their concerts, get to know them, get interested in what they’re doing and maybe you’ll hook up something musical with them. And then write the best piece you can write for trombone or whatever it is, and then he will bring his trombone friends to the concert and they’ll say, “Wow, I want to play that piece!” So then they play it at their concert and there are six other trombonists there, and then suddenly it’s going places. This piece has legs without any advertising, without any PR, without any “connections,” any awards, nothing. This one little piece has legs. And I really believe that, that that’s your PR—this piece. The piece, not anything around it.