Ken Thomson: Energized Complexities

Thomson square

Thomson’s often-complex work is carefully designed and communicates powerfully in live performance without exhausting the audience. We chat with him off stage about how he navigates multiple projects and genres while keeping listeners on the edge of their seats.

NewMusicBox Mix: 2014 Staff Picks

holidaylights

Before we close the file on 2014, New Music USA staff members have chosen some of their favorite tracks from the past twelve months for this edition of the NewMusicBox Mix.

The Queen of Grace and Kindness—Deborah Atherton (1951-2014)

Deborah Atherton seated and holding a piece of brthday cake with a lit candle on top.

Deborah helped many composers and performers through her work as a consultant and at the American Music Center, Concert Artists Guild, and the American Composers Alliance. But she was much more than an administrator. Her librettos included Under the Double Moon, a collaboration with composer Anthony Davis, and Mary Shelley, which she created in partnership with the composer Allan Jaffe.

Violinist Mark Sokol—American Music Advocate (1946-2014)

Historic B&W photo of Jacovin String Quartet playing their instruments.

When I was 16, Mark was like the big brother I never had. He was always a little larger than life. I had my first beer with him, my first cigarette. We’d stay up half the night on Fridays and Saturdays listening to Elliott Carter or Alban Berg’s Lyric Suite after having played quartets until we dropped.

The Banjo Faces Its Shadow

banjo

The banjo’s timbre cuts to some of the deepest seams of America’s past. To a number of contemporary banjo players and composers, the well of history and associations surrounding the banjo becomes a musical parameter to be bent, subverted, or used to evoke a particular landscape or time.

The Performer, the Audience, and the Measure of Success

John Zorn quote

Does the new music performance belong to the performer, the audience, or both? Both points of view, though conflicting, are necessary to uplift the other party and elevate both the artistic achievement and commercial viability of our community.

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