The blogosphere has been humming this past week with interesting posts on new music. Ralph Kendrick’s “Much Ado About Doing Nothing” grapples with new music issues that are very near and dear to me, and which I intend to address at length in later posts. Meanwhile, the Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Music and Arts Center has announced their third “Living Composer of the Month” in their ongoing feature and this month’s living composer is … me!
Over at Sequenza 21, in his post “Just Doing,” Jay Batzner considers the balance between expertise and innocence. To me, the issues he raises reflect those raised by Frank J. Oteri and commenters in his much-discussed column “Don’t Call Me Stupid” and also those from my earlier column “Be Untrue to Your School“.
Like Jay, I have given a lot of thought to the changes education has wrought on my musical style and I believe that some aspects of this evolution have been deleterious. There is an energy that derives from the amassing of insalubrious choices that can render the whole significantly greater than the sum of its parts. However, I would argue that one can reach a point in training where accumulated skill and knowledge allows an artist to recapture the naivety of their early work combined with rigorous thought which allows for a transcendent experience. To me, that is the lesson of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and of the “Heiliger Dankgesang.”