The Impact of NPAC

The roaring NPAC vessel may have motored off into the distance, but it leaves a long list of to-dos and follow-ups in its wake. After several days of meeting new colleagues, strengthening connections with those already well met, and undoubtedly strengthening my elbow bending technique at the martini bar with convivial comrades convened for this convention, I’m happy to be back in my studio and very, very invigorated by all the stimuli. Okay, the vodka probably was invigorating, too, but that wasn’t on the NPAC agenda, was it?

Conferences are what you make them, and one’s experience is directly related to one’s mood and intentions. A friend of mine admitted to me that although she had a good time at the convention, she just wasn’t that motivated this week to get out there and work the floor. I, on the other hand, must have eaten an extra helping of networking Wheaties and arrived excited to be a composer in the schmooze-ic business, and particularly to meet colleagues in genres other than what I’m currently working in, with an eye toward expanding my commission base.

Meeting all these new faces was only the first step. Now comes the next, equally important move in the dance: follow-up emails with those colleagues from whom I felt a connection and an interest. It’s not enough to just show up in person; adding glue to the relationship with personal emails and forthcoming materials is what makes having met all these people especially worthwhile. A fresh lump of business cards looms on my desk, each waiting to be triaged into piles which dictate my next action. And of course, there are always one or two at which I squint blankly, wondering, “Who the heck was that??”. I have no doubt that other attendees are staring at my card today wondering exactly the same thing. There are only so many humans one can process in a day, whether one’s brain cells are addled with Grey Goose, or not.

The most wonderful thing about the convention was the physical cross-pollination of the musical arts with those of theater and dance. I have been to no other conference that brings all these disciplines together, and it was great to be among peers in related fields. For multimedia composers who write for theater and ballet, NPAC offered an opportunity to build new professional relationships. And in my role as a panelist and moderator one day, I found a new challenge in wrangling control of a conversation with a far broader set of opinions and experiences on both sides of the dais than I’m normally faced with in my frequent duties as a new music event host. The diversity of angles was refreshing.

I returned home from Denver with a renewed focus and excitement about what I’d like to accomplish this summer. That kind of clarity is a byproduct of the vibration that comes from being surrounded by several thousand art-makers and art-supporters, and I can’t think of the last time I was part of a specialized herd that large. It’s reassuring to know just how many of us there are out there, and the resulting inspiration is a drug like no other—even better than the best martini.

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