Tag: publishing

Plus Ça Change: Florence B. Price in the #BlackLivesMatter Era

A black and white photo of a mother and daughter

“While more and more blacks are being driven into homelessness,” a classical music fan fumed, “Mostly Mozart is rewarded with government, corporate, and media support.” The problem? No black composers on the program—not even Mozart’s great contemporary, Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

We can easily imagine this critique as a sick Twitter burn from last summer, or last week. Calls to diversify classical music programs intensify regularly. But the sad truth is that many organizations are reluctant to pursue any path other than business as usual. (Others certainly aren’t.) Perhaps sadder still, the comment above dates from 1987. Mike Snell, a reader of Raoul Abdul’s music column in the New York-based Amsterdam News, wrote Abdul to eviscerate the media for not highlighting the systemic racism underpinning the lack of black representation on the concert stage.

Plus ça change.

Returning to the present: the music of one black composer, Florence B. Price, has experienced an extraordinary surge of public interest over the past year, mainly on the heels of extensive coverage of violinist Er-Gene Kahng’s world premiere recording of her two violin concertos in The New Yorker and The New York Times. Prominent U.S. orchestras, including the New Jersey Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, and Minnesota Orchestra, programmed Price’s music during their 2018–19 seasons. The Fort Smith Symphony Orchestra recently released the world premiere recording of her Fourth Symphony on Naxos Records. And more ensembles will likely take up the mantle, both in the United States and around the globe. The Chicago Symphony, for example, recently announced that it would perform Price’s Third Symphony in the 2019–20 season.

Given the longstanding historical exclusion of African American composers, Price’s sudden rise to stardom might raise a few eyebrows. Is the sudden widespread interest in Price’s music a convenient fad? Are predominantly white institutions exploiting her legacy for short-term gain—what Nancy Leong has called “racial capitalism”? These are the right questions to ask. Their skeptical slant is justified when a major trade publication can obliviously describe women composers as “in vogue.” And it would be far from the first time that white musicians bolstered their careers on the musical labor of black women, or that black women’s musical accomplishments have faced unfair scrutiny upon entering white public consciousness.

We can only speculate about how Price’s resurgent presence on the concert stage might bring about deeper structural changes over the long term. But, if we listen carefully, her unique experiences as a composer and as a black woman present us with a more immediate opportunity to name and fight racial injustice today. Mike Snell’s complaints—and those of concerned musicians before and after him—show that time has refracted these injustices to the present.

Plus ça change, indeed.

Open Our Ears

The persistence of anti-black racism in classical music spaces stems largely from the white majority’s refusal to engage meaningfully with black voices—or even to listen. In a detailed critique of the new music communities in which he has participated, composer Anthony R. Green encourages us to “trust these voices. Be critical, but respectful. Engage in exchange. Be patient. When our work is blatantly ignored, disrespected, not studied, and not programmed, our voice is all we have.” White people, even those with anti-racist sympathies, often recoil at the suggestion that they have harmed people of color and shift the discussion to defend their motivations—a phenomenon multicultural education expert Robin DiAngelo calls “white fragility.” But the fact that Green’s observations are not new simply proves the point.

Green’s critiques revolve around the classical music industry’s propensity to pigeonhole black composers as “one-trick ponies.” This dehumanization, he argues, occurs when concert organizers think about music by black composers only during Black History Month or, in more recent years, for concerts with a social justice theme. “While this is not necessarily negative,” he adds, “the injustice arises when absolute music or music with non-social themes by black composers is overlooked.” Florence Price’s daughter, Florence Robinson, expressed similar frustrations after Price died in 1953. Artists were happy to perform Price’s arrangements of Negro spirituals, but she found no advocates for her mother’s symphonic compositions.

Once a black composer finds an advocate, however, another problem is that concert organizers do not always think through the implications of poor framing. Price’s Symphony in E Minor, which Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra famously premiered in June 1933, appeared on a program ostensibly devoted to celebrating black musical achievement.

CSO program, June 1933

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 15 June 1933

It featured tenor Roland Hayes and pianist Margaret Bonds as soloists in addition to pieces by Price and Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. But the opening number was an overture by John Powell, an avowed anti-black eugenicist. Powell’s presence was an acute indignity for Price and the other black performers, especially since Chicago’s black newspaper, the Defender, had publicly criticized Powell earlier that year.

To make matters worse, the event occurred the night after a concert celebrating American music, which had not only neglected to include any black musicians, but highlighted George Gershwin’s symphonic jazz compositions—pieces epitomizing white appropriation and presumed “elevation” of a fundamentally black style. Were African American musicians not American? The juxtaposition is startling.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 14 June 1933

Chicago Symphony Orchestra, 14 June 1933

Critical comparisons between the two shows were inevitable. One critic wrote about both as a unit. “Gershwin,” she observed, “looks like his music,” while John Alden Carpenter (whose Concertino had appeared on the second program with Margaret Bonds as soloist) “took up the white man’s burden” for the evening. Price, in contrast, “was given to little communicative inspiration.” By what standard we’ll never know. And black musicians of the era were painfully aware of these racist gaffes and slights, as William Grant Still, a composer who had grown up with Price in Arkansas, demonstrated in scathing commentary published in the Pittsburgh Courier in 1950.

Fifty Years of Progress in Music

“Fifty Years of Progress in Music,” Pittsburgh Courier, 11 Nov. 1950

But what choice do black composers have in the matter given the racist status quo? Is saying no to a major opportunity a viable option, especially if it puts food on the table? In September 1940, a conductor in Detroit approached Price about setting up a performance of her orchestral music. He was “quite anxious to do something from your pen,” he told her, and asked for information about her orchestrations of black folk dances. Sensing the urgency of the situation, she sent him her abstract Third Symphony instead, along with a letter that has since become one her best-known artistic manifestos. Making sure he knew the character of the piece was unlike what he had requested, she added, “The other two movements—the first and the last—were meant to follow conventional lines of form and development.” The conductor had no choice but to program the piece, given few ready alternatives. But Price took a significant professional risk by not conceding to his original demands.

Price to Frederick Schwass

Price to Frederick Schwass, Florence Price Papers, Special Collections Division, University of Arkansas Mullins Library

As these episodes show, ignorant, racist framing of black music prevents black composers from fully expressing their artistic visions and hampers listeners from approaching a piece on its own terms. Unilateral concert planning carries the risk of reifying racist norms. Creating a just environment means working with composers to find a frame that shows their music at its best. And here we can take a cue from history as well—from a 1935 performance of Price’s Piano Concerto given by the Bronx Symphony Orchestra in which the evening’s featured black musicians had taken an integral role in planning.

New York Times, 30 Aug. 1935

New York Times, 30 Aug. 1935

#BlackLivesMatter and Classical Music

Following Trayvon Martin’s brutal murder in 2012, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tomeli inaugurated the Black Lives Matter movement to publicize the precariousness of life itself for black Americans in a violently racist society—and, of course, to rectify the injustices underpinning it.[1] The halls of classical music may seem far removed from these issues, but only because they have remained predominantly white spaces. Indeed, as historian Kira Thurman has shown, classical music (even whistling it) could not protect Draylen Mason, a young bassist from Austin, Texas, from the bomber who targeted African American homes and ultimately killed him. White people must confront this stark reality, despite the luxury of being able to avoid it.

In her reflections on Mason’s death, Kira Thurman has explained that “we don’t know how to talk about” black classical musicians because “to be black and a classical musician is to be considered a contradiction.” This insight suggests that conventional writing about classical music and musicians tends to emphasize white (male) lineage and benevolence, usually at the expense of people of color. Stating one’s position in a prominent network, for example, is meant to be a signal that talent and grit, rather than race, gender, or status, led to success. Doing the work of justice will therefore entail developing a language that breaks reliance on white patriarchal norms and captures the nuance of an individual’s full humanity.

The experience of blackness cannot be reduced to violence, but I emphasize violence here since it has experienced its own series of refractions over the past several centuries—from family separation and horrific physical abuse under slavery, to lynching under Jim Crow and decades of unchecked police brutality. The pall of violence is so pervasive that many African American parents pass strategies for navigating it to their children in a family ritual known as “the talk.” And, as black feminist theorists such as Patricia Hill Collins and bell hooks have argued, black women are uniquely vulnerable.

Price was no exception, since violence had dramatically shaped both of her parents’ lives. A group of Irish bullies, for example, nearly assaulted Price’s father when he was a young man living in New York City simply for “wearing a tall silk hat” on the sidewalk. In a draft of his memoirs, Price annotated this moment as “the lynching.” Price’s mother, meanwhile, was abducted and nearly raped as a teenager in Indianapolis. Both were squarely middle-class, indicating that a relatively high socioeconomic status could not mitigate their victimization.

Conventional biographical writing about classical musicians leaves virtually no room for examining race-based experiences like these that might shape a musical career. The official biography of Price featured on the website of her current publisher, G. Schirmer, emphasizes her relationships to white institutions and teachers but elides the circumstances that brought her into contact with these individuals in the first place.

Price studied at the New England Conservatory, for example, but not because it welcomed her as an African American. Instead, her mother insisted that she take advantage of her racially ambiguous skin color to pass as a woman from Mexico and avoid unnecessary scrutiny of her African ancestry. This decision was not only a safety measure, but as historian Allyson Hobbs has shown, carried the potential to destroy families separated by the artificial color line. Likewise, though Price continued to study with prominent teachers in Chicago, as the biography states, she went to Chicago to flee from racist violence in Arkansas that culminated in an especially grisly lynching.

"Mob spokesmen asked Carter if he had any last requests. He asked for a cup of water and a cigarette, and these were granted, as was his request to say a final prayer. Members of the mob then put a rope around his neck, threw the noose end over a utility pole, and forced him onto the top of a car. One of them drove the car away, leaving Carter hanging from the pole. The mob then pumped more than 200 shots into the dangling corpse."

Description of a lynching

Further, musicologist Rae Linda Brown has shown that domestic violence caused Price’s marriage to fall apart shortly after the move, leaving her to raise her two young daughters with the assistance of a community of black women on the city’s South Side that included dear friend Estelle Bonds and her daughter, Margaret Bonds. That Price thrived in these environments says far more about her and the racist and misogynist circumstances she faced than the prestige that might have accrued from any institutional affiliations.

Justice, then, includes allowing a musician’s true self to be fully present when facing the public—to appear “at our best,” as Kira Thurman has called it. She explains that black classical musicians “embody the Brechtian concept of Verfremdung, making the familiar strange and uncanny. Our performances and our musical experiences challenge the bounds of blackness and whiteness and the histories of racial oppression that have tried to culturally and musically determine both.” Like Anthony Green, she insists that denunciations of racial profiling and critiquing structural inequality don’t have to come at the expense of aesthetic enjoyment—that violence and beauty are equally powerful. Papering over one or the other merely reifies centuries of structural inequality by sweeping it under the rug.

A Renaissance

Historical erasure is perhaps the most acute consequence of the institutional oppression and misunderstanding that Green and Thurman highlight. And here Price’s story offers another cautionary tale.

In 2009, a pair of renovators, Darrell and Vicki Gatwood, found a substantial cache of Price’s manuscripts —roughly thirty large archival boxes—at Price’s abandoned summer home near St. Anne, Illinois. These materials eventually moved to the Special Collections division at the University of Arkansas Mullins Library. This discovery and acquisition marked a true watershed for Price scholarship and advocacy, which had grown slowly but steadily with the limited materials Price’s daughter had already sent the university shortly before her death in 1975.

Florence Price’s summer home, 2009

Florence Price’s summer home, 2009 Photo: Timothy Nutt

Price’s daughter, in fact, had struggled to find performances and publication outlets after her mother died in 1953. Some people tried to help but couldn’t, and she was occasionally suspicious of opportunists seeking to capitalize unfairly on her mother’s dwindling legacy. Things took a turn for the worse in 1974 when she became too ill to manage her mother’s affairs any longer. Barbara Garvey Jackson, a musicologist at the University of Arkansas, had been in touch her and finally convinced her to send a few manuscript scores to the university, including the famous symphony premiered by Frederick Stock and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1933.

With these slivers in hand, Jackson planted the seeds for a Florence Price revival by publishing a major biographical article in The Black Perspective in Music. Rae Linda Brown, a graduate student at Yale who had stumbled upon a manuscript of Price’s Third Symphony in an archival collection, soon joined her and became a new leading voice in the revival as she published numerous articles on Price’s life and music.

Over time, Jackson and Brown worked with several distinguished musicians and scholars, including Helen Walker-Hill, Mildred Denby Green, Althea Waites, Linda Holzer, Calvert Johnson, Trevor Weston, Karen Walwyn, and the Women’s Philharmonic to bring Price’s music to the public. This work culminated in Brown’s editions of Price’s Piano Sonata and First and Third Symphonies (co-edited with Wayne Shirley for the series Music of the United States of America published by A-R Editions), Jackson’s series of publications for ClarNan Editions, Weston’s reconstruction Price’s Piano Concerto, and several ensuing recordings. This extensive labor extends beyond the fact that Price’s vocal music has been a staple on vocal recitals, especially those given by African American performers, since the 1930s. Richard Heard collected many of these songs in his edition called 44 Art Songs and Spirituals.

After the St. Anne discovery, several new individuals became involved in this ongoing Price revival, most notably Arkansas-based composer James Greeson. He used materials from the new collection to form the basis for a 2015 documentary, The Caged Bird, which has screened at venues across the United States and has become a staple of educational initiatives around the country.

While researching black composers of the early 20th century, I visited the University of Arkansas in May 2016 to peruse the original Price archival collection but ended up using the entire new collection since it had opened to the public the previous year. A report on my work was broadcast over WUOL 90.5 in Louisville, Kentucky, a few weeks later. I collaborated with the station again in the summer of 2017 to host an all-Price concert at the city’s annual Muhammad Ali Festival, which featured members of the Louisville Orchestra giving a contemporary premiere of one of Price’s “lost” string quartets. The quartet segment was later rebroadcast nationally on the syndicated show “Performance Today.”

Meanwhile, other performing groups such as the Apollo Chamber Players, The Dream Unfinished, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the BBC Orchestra explored new areas of Price’s life and work.

Together, this collective but dispersed grassroots effort drew substantial new attention to Price’s life and music, which crested in the New Yorker and New York Times pieces mentioned earlier.

A White Savior?

If efforts to reinscribe Florence Price into the historical record were reaching new heights by the middle of 2018, what might the reification of structural inequality look like?

Publisher G. Schirmer announced last November that it had acquired worldwide rights to Price’s compositional catalog. In other words, the firm would serve as a clearinghouse for the publication, distribution, and licensing of Price’s scores. Previously, interested scholars or performers would have to visit the University of Arkansas to take photographs of the archival material (or pay the library for photographic reproductions) before engraving the music or performing from the manuscripts themselves.

Explaining the rationale behind the firm’s decision, promotional director Rachel Sokolow stated, “As more orchestras and presenters recognize the need to address diversity in classical music programming, we hope that Price’s oeuvre can be a valuable resource.” Citing the interest in Price that seemed to bloom after the extensive media coverage, G. Schirmer president Robert Thompson explained that it’s “important to insure that past composers like Julius Eastman and Florence Price are not forgotten, and that their legacies are living ones, celebrated through live performances and new recordings.”

On the surface, this may sound like a great idea with an ethical underpinning. Black composers like Price have obviously gone underserved for far too long. And the G. Schirmer website is far more convenient to access than a dusty archive. But, as musicologist Matthew Morrison’s work suggests, the firm risks joining the long line of predominantly white for-profit corporations hoping to circumscribe an equally white marketplace for black musical production if it overlooks the vibrant work that expanded the audience for Price in the first place.

At a glance, G. Schirmer’s official statements may seem reminiscent of what writer Teju Cole has called the “White-Savior Industrial Complex,” in which “the world is nothing but a problem to be solved by enthusiasm.” Perhaps many organizations rushing to program Price’s music are riding an enthusiastic wave rather than redressing injustice. But Cole’s formulation also illustrates the sharp differences between how an organization perceives itself and what the historical record shows. “All [the White Savior] sees is need,” Cole writes, and “he sees no need to reason out the need for the need.” In Price’s case, performing organizations neglected her music, but even G. Schirmer itself owns a small share of the responsibility for narrowing the marketplace and creating the lack of diverse programming we face today.

To wit: Marian Anderson premiered Price’s Songs to the Dark Virgin in November 1939 at a Carnegie Hall recital, with a repeat in January. A representative from Theodore Presser jumped on the opportunity, but Price had so much leverage that she ended up going with G. Schirmer over an offer from the equally prominent Presser. In other words, G. Schirmer knew about Price and her music but offered to publish only a tiny fraction during her lifetime.

Songs to the Dark Virgin

Cover of Songs to the Dark Virgin, G. Schirmer, 1941

“When you [Anderson] introduce a song,” Price’s daughter once explained, “that is a signal for the publishers to try to persuade the composer to sign a contract for publication.” Price and Anderson worked together to capitalize on this knowledge of the system’s inner workings because Price occasionally had trouble finding publishers on her own. Ethnomusicologist Alisha Lola Jones has argued that this synergistic collaboration was a channel through which “black women empowered themselves to sound the (un)quieted, undisputed dignity of womanhood on the world’s stage” without the involvement of white benefactors.

Florence Robinson to Marian Anderson, Dec. 1966

Florence Robinson to Marian Anderson, Dec. 1966, Marian Anderson Papers, University of Pennsylvania

But Price could not rely solely on a community of women to bring her orchestral music before the public, and therefore to have any hope of publishing it.[2] This institutional neglect of her music during her lifetime explains why so many manuscripts were awaiting “discovery” after her death in the first place. Promotional brochures dating from Price’s lifetime show that her prolific catalog was public knowledge throughout the industry. ASCAP, of which Price was the first African American woman member, produced these brochures and distributed them widely.

Florence Price’s ASCAP Brochure

Florence Price’s ASCAP Brochure

Why did no one offer to work with Price or her daughter to secure a legacy—the kind of legacy that G. Schirmer is now rightly pursuing? Publishers? Conductors? Instrumentalists? Even in the supposedly vaunted world of classical music, profit-seeking considerations and their deep ties to systemic discrimination often trump ethical concerns. In the heady environment of an exciting renaissance, white organizations run the risk of refusing to acknowledge black voices, especially those of black women, virtually ensuring that these voices become unsung to their posterity.

Within the complex matrix of composers, publishers, venues, performers, audiences, and critics, we must all play a role in creating a just musical community. Or we will keep repeating the same patterns of oppression.

A Classical Postscript

As it turns out, Joseph Bologne’s music also has an esteemed but spotty publication history dating from his own lifetime in the late 18th century. Famous houses like Antoine Bailleux and Jean-Georges Sieber published him alongside J.C. Bach, Luigi Boccherini, and others. After a long publication hiatus, one of the foremost scholars of black music, Dominique-René de Lerma, worked with Peer International to publish a series of Bologne’s chamber music in 1978—a full decade before music fan Mike Snell wagged his finger at New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival.

Plus ça change.

Thank you to Dr. Alisha Lola Jones and Samantha Ege for providing substantive feedback and additional sources for this essay.

1. BLM should not be confused with the Movement for Black Lives, which is a separate but occasionally overlapping organization.

2. University of York musicology Ph.D. student Samantha Ege is arguing in her dissertation that Price’s social circle did in fact offer material support for the Chicago Symphony concert once her piece became a viable option for Frederick Stock.

Jonathan Kramer’s Gift

It’s often surprising the way things turn around if enough time passes. Jonathan Kramer was my first composition teacher: I was an undergraduate history major at Yale, increasingly possessed by music and the need to write it, yet seeing no way I could move beyond the scribbles of a dilettante. On a whim (more like a desperate lunge) I made contact with Jonathan and was allowed into his composition class, which then led to lessons. I graduated still a history major, but also a composer…for the rest of my life. Jonathan saved my life.

He and I stayed in touch over the years, as he undertook a life that led him to Cincinnati and then eventually culminated in a position at Columbia. Jonathan had established a reputation as both theorist and composer by this point, and his book The Time of Music (published in 1988) marked him as one of the most original musical thinkers of his generation. (Though currently out of print, it remains enormously influential.)

The next major project on Jonathan’s desk was a book on musical postmodernism. His own music was always an original synthesis—I was struck that works of his I heard in college seemed to be a wonderful blend of minimalist repetition and restriction with modernist structures. So it’s not too surprising that the eclecticism and incongruities of postmodernism, as it arose in the 1970s and ’80s, would appeal to him, and increasingly he identified his own music as postmodernist in style. Moreover, his restless intellectual curiosity led him to want to discover the underpinning principles of postmodern practice from a broader perspective, something that satisfied the theorist and aesthetician in him (while further fertilizing his own art).

I met Jonathan periodically in New York once he was settled there, and knew about the book. It sounded like an enormous endeavor (and enormously ambitious; it was difficult to see how anyone could undertake such a vast challenge, a trip through a hall of mirrors). And then, suddenly, one day in 2004 I heard in an email from a friend that Jonathan had died. To say it was a shock is an understatement, because he was only 62. In fact, only about three months before, we had shared a program as part of Andrea Clearfield’s loft concerts in Philadelphia, sitting together on a sofa and listening to our respective pieces. I was to hear afterwards that his end came unexpectedly from a disease that had laid latent throughout his life. (The New York Times reported it as leukemia.)

And so suddenly the youngest of my major teachers was gone, the one I always expected would last the longest. I thought passingly of his postmodernism book, but I assumed it was lost forever.

And then around 2009 my friend Kyle Gann told me that he had a copy of a draft of the book, titled from the very beginning as Postmodern Music, Postmodern Listening. Jonathan’s widow, Deborah Bradley-Kramer, and Jann Pasler (a musicologist colleague and friend of Jonathan’s at UC San Diego) had been trying to find a publisher, at that point to no avail. They’d contacted Kyle as a potential editor, but his commitments were too great at that point to agree. He gave me the text (in old-fashioned hardcopy), and I began to read. It was such a pleasure to hear Jonathan’s voice again in my head—erudite, funny, both a scholarly nerd and a total outsider. And I came to think that maybe there was yet a way to have his text see the light of day. It was just too good.

And so I began a quest to find a home for the book. I made contact with Deborah, and she gave permission for me to try to find a publisher. (She and Jann had tried several, but been rebuffed by the usual juried evaluation process at academic presses; the reviews claimed that aspects of the book were too quirky, or “postmodernism” as a topic was already passé.) I noted that a small press, Continuum, had not only published a freewheeling set of essays by a former composition student of mine, but had also put out the popular 33 1/3 series of books on important albums. I wrote to them and there was immediate interest.

The process of ultimate approval took longer than expected (as it always does). Continuum was bought by Bloomsbury, and the project moved into their queue. Thanks to the enthusiasm and support of a young Continuum editor who then transferred to Bloomsbury, Ally Grossan, it eventually received the green light.

Then began the process of editing. In one sense, it was easier than I might have thought. The version of the book I had been given by Gann was essentially complete except for one chapter, which Jonathan had noted needed more work. But once Deborah and I began to dig through his files (many of them in barely accessible earlier versions of Word!), we found that in fact he had basically completed the chapter, plus we found two additional chapters—analyses of Mahler and Nielsen that served as concrete examples of the analytic principles outlined in the book.

Due to the passage of time since the book’s drafting, context needed to be given. Part of this came from an introduction I wrote (which recaps much of what you’ve already read here), plus there is a preface by Jann that describes the intellectual evolution of the project that she observed closely through years of discussion with Jonathan, and a series of essays contributed by his former students, colleagues, and collaborators, covering his thought, music, personality, and legacy (Deborah, Duncan Neilson, John Halle, Martin Bresnick, Brad Garton, and John Luther Adams).

I won’t go into brutal detail about the minutiae of editing. Suffice it to say that it’s far more complex an endeavor than one can ever imagine when one starts.

Postmodern Music

But then it does all get done. And what of the book itself? As most by now will likely agree, “postmodernism” as a musical style is pretty much over. The eclectic, juxtapositional experiments from the 1980s on had the capacity to shock and reorient us to a renewed appreciation of past repertoire, as well as all sorts of traditions outside of Western concert music. But now we seem to be exploring new frontiers, there’s a renewed appreciation of modernism, and things that once were eclectic now have become synthetic. So why reconsider postmodernism? Let’s listen to Jonathan’s own voice, from the book’s Foreword, explaining his strategy and perspective; in it we hear across almost two decades what’s still so important about his thought:

What does it mean to posit that “postmodern music” is not a category? We hear about postmodern music all the time, and you will indeed encounter this term in this book. When I write “postmodern music,” what I really mean is “music exhibiting a substantial number of attributes that readily stimulate a postmodern disposition in composers and/or listeners.” It is pointless to label works simply as postmodern or not postmodern. When we try to do this, we quickly get caught up in a jumble of contradictions, because postmodernism is not one thing. When someone asks me if the piece we just heard is postmodern, I do not like to say yes or no. Most recent pieces, and several older pieces, are postmodern in some ways and not in other ways….

Since I take postmodernism as an attitude, I prefer not to think of it as a historical period. When I write about postmodern aspects of certain pieces of Beethoven, Mahler, Ives, Nielsen, and others, I truly mean that they are compositions that have certain characteristics that listeners of today can understand from the standpoint of a postmodern attitude. I do not mean that these works of the past are precursors of postmodernism. They are as much postmodern as are many works written considerably more recently…

Postmodernism is not a monolithic aesthetic with a consistent agenda. Different composers, different critics, and different apologists use and see postmodernism differently. Hence its categories and subcategories are impossible to delineate rigorously. There are always exceptions. If my prose seems sometimes contradictory as a result of the fuzziness of categories, I accept that as the inevitable result of trying to study an aesthetic one of whose tenets is the embracing of contradiction. From savoring all sides of a contradiction, we can become more accepting, less rigid, and more enriched. Resolving aesthetic conflicts, by contrast, can be stultifying and can discourage further creative thought.

(Reprinted with permission of Bloomsbury Academic © 2016 [Purchase])

And as I say in my own introduction, postmodernism is a way of experiencing the world. And as a consequence, we begin to experience all art differently. This aspect of the book, certainly the most original, also I feel remains one of the most resonant and enduring in contemporary culture. As we have moved into an age of mass communication and social media, it seems that every act, statement, and product now is subject to an inexhaustible stream of commentary and criticism from anyone who wishes to offer it. More and more, nothing is considered autonomously, but rather in an infinite web of interrelated opinion and judgment. We all experience interconnection and multiplicity continually now, as agents in a stream of infinite experience. Kramer did not live to see this online explosion, but somehow his take on the postmodern seems uncannily adaptable to this development.

And so the second half of the book’s title, Postmodern Listening, is the critical factor. Jonathan shows how our contemporary experience colors and reshapes our audition of everything, from Beethoven to new pieces he never could have encountered. And so the book is not only still relevant; I think it’s prescient.

Finally, one last personal note. In case you didn’t already notice, this is a story of gifts. Jonathan gave me a chance to make music my life. When I discovered this book languishing in limbo, I thought how I might feel in a similar situation (if one can feel anything postmortem). And though I didn’t need to do this for any career reason, it seemed important, even somehow necessary to pay back—to give a gift in return for the one Jonathan gave me at the start of my career. And I say that not to call the spotlight on myself (no matter how proud I may be of the accomplishment, there are many people involved in the process of this “rescue”), but above all to encourage others to think of ways we can increase the health of our culture and community, to give when it’s up to us to do so.

An Atheist Composer on Choral Music

female chorus

female chorus

Musicians of all stripes are just coming off of a month of “winter” concerts, services, masses, caroling, and other traditional religious productions. It is no mystery that Christmas and Easter are among the best times to get a decent paying gig. As a singer, I am among these musicians.

Ever since high school, I have adored choral music. Like many young musicians, I idolized the composers and decided I wanted to compose choral music, too. Indeed, new choral music has a big market!

But, as an atheist in a field often inextricably connected to a religious community, there is an element of cognitive dissonance that’s a running theme in my career. When I tell someone that I sing in professional choirs and compose “mostly” choral music, it is uncomfortable, even alienating, when they make the assumption that I do so for spiritual reasons, that I am a “believer,” that the music that I compose is for worship, and that it has been sung by choirs, in the strictest sense, not choruses.

Why do so many people assume “sacred choral” music when I say just “choral” music? Religion, like music and especially choral music, at its best brings people together for a common good. That is the reason I sing in choirs.

Still, I was raised in Texas, surrounded by religiously conservative messages that discouraged me from ever exploring questions of faith. Because of my queer identity, I understood early on that there was not really a place for me in the church. It turned out, I was okay with it.

Sacred vs. Secular

One of the most unnerving moments of my career, young as it may be, came with my first publication. I was truly overjoyed to put forth my work as part of the Anton Armstrong Choral Series, but it was initially misclassified as “sacred” not “secular,” presumably because the word “Heaven” was in the title.

Why do publishers make the distinction in the first place? We do not market band or orchestral music as “sacred” or “secular.”

The one time I met Eric Whitacre, he said something to the effect of, “Isn’t all music sacred?” These words come from a composer whose music was described as “religious music for the commitment-phobe” two years later by The Telegraph after a performance in London. It is quite clear that the writer Ivan Hewett is not a fan, but I would argue that the premise of the discussion is a bit contrived.

The composer identifies as “not an atheist, but not a Christian either.” So, why does Hewett insist on contextualizing Whitacre’s music as “spiritual” at the Proms? Are their audiences really “craving” religious music? Are we not permitted to perform “sacred” music at a concert hall? Or “secular” music in a church?

We are living in the era of Whitacre’s Alleluia, which is a choral setting based on a—presumably secular—instrumental work of his called October. His music sells well, and his Alleluia is deemed appropriate in a religious context because of its title and single-word content. After all, is there a non-religious way to sing “Praise the Lord”?

In any case, I could not condemn a composer for expressing his “spiritual” agnostic truth.

Blurry church interior

Why the Distinction?

Still, since we are in the business of distinction, or perhaps discrimination, I think we should call “sacred” choral music what it actually is: Christian choral music. Surely, this repertory is distinct from music inspired by Judaism and Islam, e.g. Steve Reich’s Tehillim or Abbie Betinis’s Bar Xizam.

Additionally, why does the term “sacred” in a publisher’s catalog tend to exclude music from non-Abrahamic religious traditions? What about Native American-, Canadian First Nation-, or Aboriginal-inspired texts? Why should we put such a limit on what qualifies as “sacred” music? What does it suggest about “secular” music?

Perhaps the prevalence of specifically Christian choral music is what is limiting. In prioritizing the “sacred” above the “secular,” we emphasize certain lessons and ignore others.

At the very least, we have abandoned the questions of human sexuality and gender diversity. When discussing a commission with Sandi Hammond, the director of one of the United States’ first all-transgender choruses, she insisted that a new work not include anything about Jesus or the Bible. She said her singers felt “suppressed” by religion. As a trans woman myself, I understand their frustration too well. To us, there is something missing or erased in a program that excludes music that is not part of a Christian tradition.

Facing Forward

Now that I have it off my chest, I would like to ask for a response from composers. Has choral music been relevant to you in a way that Christianity has not? Have you wanted to compose choral music but have not—or have you ignored the contemporary choral scene altogether—because of its religious association?

Needless to say, I am reluctant to set “sacred” texts. I will only set them if they truly move me, as in the case of the Prayer of St. Francis. I am more than eager to expand the repertory of “secular” choral music, and I would encourage other composers to contribute the same.

Those of you who are choral directors, especially in a high school or university environment, could we focus on humanism, rather than religion? What makes the “sacred” choral literature you program or compose relatable to the singers, some of whom may not be Christians?

As an atheist singing, teaching, or composing music associated with religion, I strive to appreciate how the “deeper” meaning is universally applicable. Whether or not we accept a particular faith as a spiritual direction, it is, perhaps, of utmost importance that we connect with the humanist content of these musical settings.


Mari Valverde

Mari Valverde

Mari Esabel Valverde is a composer, singer, teacher, and translator. Her music has been featured at conventions, festivals, and tours across the States and abroad in England, France, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Oman. A native of Texas, she holds degrees from St. Olaf College and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as a protégée of David Conte. She has appeared with the St. Olaf Choir, International Orange Chorale of San Francisco, Dallas Symphony Chorus, Dallas Chamber Choir, and Vox Humana.

Boosey & Hawkes Signs David T. Little

David T. Little

David T. Little
Photo by Merri Cyr

Boosey & Hawkes has announced the addition of David T. Little to its roster of composers. By exclusive publishing agreement, Little’s complete catalog is now represented worldwide by Boosey & Hawkes.

“Watching [David’s] career take off has been exhilarating,” said Zizi Mueller, president of Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. “He constantly challenges his own musical boundaries, while creating astute and relevant works that touch us all. From his stage works to his chamber music, David has captured the attention of artists and audiences from diverse musical arenas.”

Little, the composer of such works as the opera Dog Days and the multi-media music theatre piece Soldier Songs, often explores political concerns in his music. Recent and upcoming works include AGENCY (Kronos Quartet), CHARM (Baltimore Symphony/Marin Alsop), Hellhound (Maya Beiser), Haunt of Last Nightfall (Third Coast Percussion), the opera JFK with Royce Vavrek (Fort Worth Opera/ALT), a new opera commissioned by the MET Opera/Lincoln Center Theater new works program, and the music theatre work Artaud in the Black Lodge with Outrider legend Anne Waldman (Beth Morrison Projects).

His music has been heard at Carnegie Hall, the Park Avenue Armory, the Bang on a Can Marathon, and elsewhere. Educated at University of Michigan and Princeton, Little is co-founder of the annual New Music Bake Sale, has served as executive director of MATA and is currently director of composition at Shenandoah Conservatory and composer-in-residence with Opera Philadelphia. The founding artistic director of the ensemble Newspeak, his music can be heard on New Amsterdam and Innova labels.

(from the press release)

They’re Finally Catching On

One of the most important and far-reaching developments with composers over the past fifteen years or so has been the ability to self-publish one’s works. With the confluence of the advent of powerful personal computers, professional-level notation software, large-format printers, and the ability to reach musicians across the world through one’s own website, self-publishing has moved away from a cottage industry model to a very real and feasible option for many composers who do not become affiliated with a major publisher. The pros and cons of taking this route are myriad, but it has evolved into composers making a choice between little-work/little-gain (publisher) and way-more-work/way-more-gain (self-publisher) and, up until relatively recently, those have been the only two choices a composers could make.

Two of the major challenges with going the DIY self-publisher route center around production and distribution. Most composers are comfortable creating professional-grade score and parts and running them down to the post office as occasional one-offs, but as orders become consistent it can be daunting to keep up with such demands. Two of the most successful self-published composers, Jennifer Higdon and John Mackey, have to spend a considerable amount of their time in that role; Mackey beautifully describes the situation in a great 2009 blog post about self-publishing:

Is that difference of 400%-900% worth the time it takes to print, fold, staple, and mail a set of parts? To me, the answer is yes, but to a lot of composers, the answer is no. All of this takes a lot of time, and a lot of composers, understandably, would rather just compose and not worry about the business aspect of it. They just want to write the music, give it to a publisher, and not think about it anymore, and whatever income they collect, no matter the amount, is just a nice bonus. Most of those composers probably have other jobs—like teaching—or wealthy families to make that possible. I like to think of it like I also have a “day job,” and my day job is publishing my own music.

Over the past few years some composers have been looking for a middle ground between the “legacy” publisher/DIY self-publisher dichotomy—they aren’t interested in giving up 50% of their royalties and 90% of their sheet music sales, but they’re also turned off by the amount of time and effort a successful self-publishing endeavor requires. The options for a “third way” have been few and far between, primarily because there are few printing houses that are set up for dealing with the vagaries of printing sheet music and the fact that a self-published composer is just one person and few distributors will deal with individuals (most state up front that they only deal with established publishers).

That does not mean there haven’t been notable exceptions on this front. An early variation on the traditional publisher model was created by Bill Holab, who left the world of the brick-and-mortar publishers to start his own hybrid business overseeing a stable of composers and facilitating their various engraving, distribution, and management needs while allowing them to keep their publishing royalties. Recently this model was taken up by one of those traditional publishers with the introduction in 2011 of Project Schott New York, a pilot program from Schott Music Corporation and European American Music Distributors, LLC that has selected a list of composers and has created an online distribution system for selected works by those composers.

On the DIY side, there have been a couple of options that have worked to various degrees. Back in 2006, I came across the Houston-based composer Karim Al-Zand’s website and discovered that he was using the print-on-demand book publishing website Lulu.com. It looked promising but the fact that the largest size paper you could have your works printed on was 8.5″x11″ made this option less than desirable. Another publisher, Subito Music, has attempted to tap into the growing self-publisher population by offering both printing and distribution services for composers not published by Subito themselves. During my interview with Lisa Bielawa she told me about working through their printing service—she would order scores and parts in bulk and then sell those herself—and she seemed quite satisfied with them.

So far these have been publishers and print houses trying to capitalize on the growing self-publishing trends, and now it’s the distributor’s turn…and it looks pretty damn good.

A few days ago, I came across a Facebook ad that mentioned a new printing and distribution service (imagine, a Facebook ad that was actually pertinent!). I followed it and discovered that J. W. Pepper & Son had initiated a new service called My Score. On the face of it, it looked promising: it is directly aimed at self-published composers, offering printing and distribution as well as the ability to create a profile page on their website to direct interested parties to individual composer’s catalogs. A one-time charge of $99 will get you in the door and there’s a $25 yearly fee—unless you sell over $400 of music, in which case the fee is waived. More importantly, the composer keeps the publishing royalties and the print music split is much better than any publishing agreement I’ve heard of—25% of print sales and 40% of digital sales (compare that to your industry standard 10% for all sales with a typical publisher)…and the composer sets the selling price (Pepper does state pricing minimums).

After several colleagues asked if I could delve further into this service, I contacted Ian McLoughlin from J. W. Pepper & Son with several questions: How long has this been going on? What made you decide to start this? What about composers who don’t cater to educational markets? Can I see an example of one of the composer pages?

Here’s his entire e-mail response:

We decided to create My Score because of the growing number of smaller “Self-Publishers” and composers who needed an outlet to sell their compositions. J.W. Pepper & Son has always prided itself on having an extensive list of available compositions, but in the past 10 years, there has been a noticeable movement toward self publishing, and J.W. Pepper has not been able to represent these smaller publishers. My Score now gives these smaller publishers the option to be represented in the J.W. Pepper database.

The service is only about two weeks old and we have about 20 composer/self publishers signed up already. Take a look at www.jwpepper.com/myscore/hirschmusic as an example.

Composers can distribute any work they would like to! Traditionally, Pepper markets to educational institutions and churches but if someone comes to us and needs a piece of music and it is in print, we will get the music for them.

My Score was created for the composer/self publisher that needs to get their music out to the masses. We have created a platform where the composer/publisher gets their own URL so they can market their compositions. We have given them a place for a bio, picture, social media links (You Tube, Twitter, Facebook) and their own website if they have one. If the composer does not have their own website, the provided URL would be a great place to start. For only $99, you get a platform to sell and promote your music. It would cost more to create their own site and maintain it!

The best part about our service is that we can provide the customers a printed or digital copy of the composer’s music. I believe we are the only service out there proving print and digital services.

My Score was not created as a way to replace the traditional composer/publisher relationship. We would recommend that a composer still try and have their works published by a publisher because a publisher will be able to market their compositions across the world and sales will be much greater with a publisher. My Score is for the composer/small publisher that has not been picked up by a publisher yet but still wants to make their music available.

I showed this to my studio last night and, while there were many questions, I came away impressed with the composer’s page as well as the individual work pages. The “marketplace” interface in which customers can purchase music looks very similar to Amazon (even to the point of allowing customer reviews). They allow for audio and video links within the individual work pages as well as PDFs from the uploaded scores. Ian let me know that international composers can sign up for the service as well (answering one of my Japanese student’s questions). Finally, there’s integration within social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) so you can have links from the Pepper page to your website and social networks.

To be honest, I’m excited about this on two levels. On a pragmatic level, this looks like something I could use—with my teaching and many other projects, I don’t have the time to go all in on a self-publishing model, but I’m also not interested in signing everything away to a major publisher—so this option is very attractive to me as a self-published composer. On a more conceptual level, however, this is also big news because it’s the first time (that I’m aware of) that a major distributor has recognized the growing strength of self-published composers in our industry and is willing to allow the individual to jump into the marketplace. I’ll be very interested to hear any other responses or questions about this and especially any reactions from composers who are using the service. The comments section is yours for the taking.

Adam Schoenberg is 1st American Composer to Sign with Ricordi London/UMPC

Composer Adam Schoenberg has signed a publishing deal with Ricordi London, part of the Universal Music Publishing Classical group (UMPC). It is the company’s first-ever signing of an American composer.

“We are delighted to welcome Adam to the UMPC composer roster,” said Silke Hilger, who serves as the international promotion director for UMPC. “His music adds a style and sound to our catalog that is truly and uniquely American. It is full of beautiful lines and energizing rhythms and will undoubtedly find its way into the standard orchestra repertoire even throughout the world. We are very excited to work with Adam on his future successes.”

Adam Schoenberg, born in 1980 in Northamtpon, Massachusetts, has received two commissions each from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Up! and La Luna Azul) and Kansas City Symphony (American Symphony and a new 21st-century Pictures at an Exhibition, which will be premiered February 1-3, 2013). Other recent commissions include works for the Aspen Music Festival and School, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Lexington Philharmonic, Atlanta Chamber Players, Quintet of the Americas, The Blakemore Trio, and the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, Kentucky. Schoenberg will become the first composer-in-residence of the Kansas City Symphony during Michael Stern’s tenure for the 2012-13 season. Additional residencies include the Aspen Music Festival’s M.O.R.E program, a position he has held since 2010, and the 2012 BMI Composer-in-Residence for the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University. He was a 2009 and 2010 MacDowell Fellow, and was the first prize winner at the 2008 International Brass Chamber Music Festival for best Brass Quintet. In 2007, he was awarded ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer Award, Juilliard’s Palmer-Dixon Prize for Most Outstanding Composition, and a Meet The Composer grant. He received the 2006 Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was awarded the Society for New Music’s Brian M. Israel Prize in 2004. The American Brass Quintet released a recording of Schoenberg’s quintet as part of their 50th Anniversary CD, and Jack Sutte (Cleveland Orchestra) released a recording of Schoenberg’s trumpet sonata, Separated by Space. Schoenberg earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at The Juilliard School in 2010 where he studied with John Corigliano and Robert Beaser. He also received his Master of Music degree from Juilliard and his Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Schoenberg serves on the faculty of UCLA where he teaches composition and orchestration. Schoenberg is also represented by Opus 3 Artists.

Excerpt from Adam Schoenberg’s Finding Rothko (courtesy Ricordi London/UMPC)

(—from the press release)

Bolcom, Harbison, Ives & Zappa Top 2012 Paul Revere Awards

2012 Revere Award Winners

One of the tables stock full of 2012 Paul Revere award-winning publications which were rummaged over throughout the course of day by the attendees of the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Music Publishers Association

New sheet music publications featuring compositions by William Bolcom, John Harbison, Charles Ives, and Frank Zappa are among the first prize winners in the 2012 Paul Revere Awards for Graphic Excellence, which are named in honor of the American Revolutionary War hero, who owned a printing press, and are given annually by the Music Publishers Association (MPA). The awards are open to retail print music publications in all genres published over the course of the past year, as well as scores that are digitally distributed online. Other award winners among the 49 publications in 13 categories include scores by Chen Yi, Valerie Coleman, John Corigliano, David Del Tredici, Vijay Iyer, Robert Kyr, Paul Moravec, Steve Reich, David Evan Thomas, Maury Yeston, and Neil Young. Of particular significance is the newly published critical edition of Charles Ives’s Symphony No. 4, a vast improvement over the previously available published edition which had included a confusing page of score printed horizontally to accommodate all of the separate simultaneous parts occurring during that passage. Below is a complete list of all the 2012 Paul Revere award-winning publications.

Full Score Notesetting
1st Prize
Charles Ives: Symphony No. 4 – Critical Edition (Associated Music Publishers/Schirmer)
2nd Prize (tie)
David Del Tredici: Magyar Madness (Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.)
Steve Reich: Sextet (Hendon Music/Boosey & Hawkes)
3rd Prize (tie)
Kurt Weill: Music with Solo Violin (European American Music Corp.)
John Corigliano: The Mannheim Rocket (G. Schirmer, Inc.)

Choral Music Notesetting
1st Prize
William Bolcom: A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day (Edward B. Marks Company)
Joel Raney: Let The Whole World Sing (Hope Publishing Company)
2nd Prize (3-way tie)
Chen Yi: Distance Can’t Keep us Two Apart (Theodore Presser Company)
Robert Kyr: Freedom Song (ECS Publishing Corp.)
David Evan Thomas: The Digital Wonder Watch (ECS Publishing Corp.)

Chamber Music Notesetting
1st Prize
Mozart: Three Arias from The Abduction from the Seraglio (International Music Company)
2nd Prize (3-way tie)
Joseph Schwantner: Percussion Concerto (Schott Music Corp.)
Claude Debussy: Sonata No. 4 (International Music Company)
Domenico Scarlatti: Two Sonatas, K. 87 and 455 (International Music Company)

Solos Music Notesetting
1st Prize
John Harbison: Abu Ghraib (Associated Music Publishers/Schirmer)
2nd Prize (tie)
Valerie Coleman: Danza de la Mariposa (Theodore Presser Company)
Saint-Saëns: Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso (Theodore Presser Company)
3rd Prize
Foundation Studies for the Violin, Book I (Carl Fischer)

Piano-Vocal Music Notesetting
1st Prize
Artur Schnabel: Notturno (Peermusic Classical)
2nd Prize (3-way tie)
Audition Musical Theatre Anthology (Alfred Music Publishing)
Paul Moravec: Danse Russe (Subito Music Publishing)
Maury Yeston: Death Takes a Holiday (Cherry Lane)

Keyboard Music Notesetting
1st Prize (tie)
Enrique Granados: 12 Spanish Dances (Alfred Music Publishing)
Howard Hanson: Sonata in A Minor (Carl Fischer)
2nd Prize (tie)
John Corigliano: Chiaroscuro for two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart (G. Schirmer, Inc.)
Chopin: Three New Etudes, Op. Posth. (International Music Company)
3rd Prize
Chen Yi: Variations on “Awariguli” (Theodore Presser Company)

Guitar Music Notesetting
1st Prize
Frank Zappa: One Size Fits All (Hal Leonard)
2nd Prize (tie)
Joe Satriani: Black Swans and Wormhole Wizards (Cherry Lane)
Jeff Beck: Truth (Hal Leonard)
3rd Prize
70 Bach Chorales (Cherry Lane)

Collated Music Notesetting
1st Prize
Franz Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata (Theodore Presser Company)
2nd Prize
G. F. Telemann: Viola Concerto in A Major (Gems Music Publications)

Cover Design Featuring Photography
1st Prize
Sing It First (Kendor Music)
2nd Prize
Matteo Carcassi Classical Guitar Method (Carl Fischer)
3rd Prize
Vijay Iyer: Selected Compositions 1999-2008 (Mel Bay Publications)

Cover Design Featuring Graphic Elements
1st Prize
William Bolcom: Bird Spirits (Edward B. Marks Company)
2nd Prize
Steven C. Warner and Karen Schnieder Kirner: Mass for Our Lady (World Library Publications)
3rd Prize
20 Pieces from Briggs’ Banjo Instructor for Ukelele (Mel Bay Publications)

Book Design in Folios
1st Prize (tie)
Kurt Weill: Music with Solo Violin (European American Music Corp.)
2nd Prize (tie)
William Bolcom: Bird Spirits (Edward B. Marks Company)
Neil Young: Harvest (Hal Leonard)

Book Design in Educational Folios
1st Prize (tie)
101 Harmonica Tips (Hal Leonard)
Method of Movement for Marimba (Marimba Percussion, Inc.)
2nd Prize
No Brainer: Play Drumset (Alfred Music Publishing)
3rd Prize
I Used to Play Drums (Carl Fischer)

Publications for Electronic Distribution
1st Prize
Claude Debussy: Premiere Rhapsodie (Musicnotes, Inc.)
2nd Prize
Carl Maria von Weber: Invitation to the Waltz (Musicnotes, Inc.)

Over the course of the 2012-13 academic year, there will be a touring exhibition of the 2012 Paul Revere award-winning publications to music libraries at colleges and universities through the United States. In previous years, participating libraries have included the Columbia University Music Library in New York City, the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University in New Orleans, the Belmont University Music Library in Nashville, the Fine Arts Library at Michigan State University in East Lansing, the Albert Seay Library of Music and Art at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, and the Odegaard Ungergraduate Library at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The 2012 awards were adjudicated by a panel of four judges: The primary engraving judge was composer Bruce Taub, a freelance consultant and engraver who formerly served as the head of publishing for C.F. Peters Corporation, Music Publishers (from 1978-2000). Composer George Boziwick, chief of the music division for the The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts served as utility judge. Visual artist Maria Reidelbach served as the design judge. The panel was chaired by Paul Sadowski of McGinnis and Marx Music Publishers, who also served as a second engraving judge.

The 2012 Paul Revere Awards were announced by Sadowski during the Annual Meeting of the Music Publishers Association at the Harvard Club in New York City on June 1. During the annual meeting, the MPA also honored Frank J. Hackinson, who has had a seven-decade career in the music publishing business, with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Other events during the 2012 MPA Annual Meeting included panels on the external drivers effecting print music and protecting intellectual property in a digital environment. A highlight of the day was a screening of five video submissions which are finalists in the MPA’s Copyright Awareness Scholarship competition, a program created with the National Association for Music Education (NAfME, formerly MENC). The program, now in its third year, is open to students between the ages of 13 and 25 currently enrolled in high school or university. There were a total of 300 submissions for 2012. The winner, who will be announced at a later date, will receive a $10,000 cash prize.