What are you looking for in pieces of new piano music? Aleck Karis

Aleck Karis
Photo by Christian Steiner

The first thing that comes to mind is originality. I’m interested in pieces that give the sense that the composer has created his or her own individual sound-world. This is more important to me than the style, or “school” of composition.

As for the musical materials: what is it that makes some pitches and rhythms particularly interesting? I can’t define it. And why do some pieces turn out to be greater than the sum of their parts: unexceptional materials that somehow add up to a magical or expressive whole? This is also a mystery.

I play through a new piece and sometimes have an instinct that this is stuff I’d enjoy spending a lot of time with. Also, I’m looking for a piece I might have something to offer, a piece I’d hope to make my own.

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