Little Lies on Paper
Besides vindicating my long-held suspicion that counterpoint is totally overrated, Colin Holter’s observations during last weekend’s Midwest Composers Symposium stirred up another point of mutual recognition: over-bloated resumes. Some young composers lay it on so thick, one begins to doubt the integrity of the entire multi-paged package. For example, when I’m confronted with a lengthy list of commissions naming only the performers without a single funding organization in sight, I know this person’s definition of a commission doesn’t exactly involve payment or contracts—more like, hey dude, can you write me a new piece? In my book, that’s not a commission. And when I see ASCAPLUS awards listed, I feel a little embarrassed for them. Every active ASCAP-affiliated composer out there with occasional performances of their work should be receiving annual checks—you just have to fill out the online application—it feels more like a subsidy program than an award. Okay, wait. I’m starting to feel a little guilty here. Before I dig myself any deeper, I should admit to a couple of shady things on my own CV.
Okay, I’m a hypocrite. I have ASCAP listed as a generality under my list of awards, and yes, I’m referring here to my PLUS awards. However, I refuse to be tacky, so I list it only once. I’ve seen composers list the award multiple times indicating the year it was received. Pffft. And speaking of tacky, thank you ASCAP for removing the $ from PLU$ (of course the single P now makes the ASCAPLUS very Scandinavian).
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation Honorary Fellowship
Yes, it sounds very grand, almost awe-inspiring, but anyone bestowed with this distinction knows it’s just resume filler. Truth is, sometime after you complete a stint at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program an official letter on expensive stationary arrives in your mailbox, stating that the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation funded your residency and that you should put the above phrase as an award on your resume. So I did. However, the way I formatted my CV, residencies are divided from grants and awards, so is it fair of me to list my Djerassi residency and the “honorary fellowship” separately? Well, I did it anyway. Personally, I feel a tiny bit guilty about the redundancy, but who’s going to know?
Most of my CV is spot-on accurate, so I don’t feel too bad about it. But to that end, my listing of awards and commissions is rather sparse. What can I say? Nobody’s knocking down my door just dying to throw commissions and awards at me. However, I refuse to put any energy into nursing an inferiority complex. It’s just paper. I happen to be one of those composers who’s not good on paper. Big deal. I’ve never had a single performer contact me for a copy of my CV. Musicians—those amazing people who interpret, perform, and record your music—usually don’t give a damn about your resume. All they want is an engaging piece of music. And in the end, it’s your music that’s going to open doors, not your big, fat, embellished resume.