Photo courtesy Erik Hoversten
Despite the “classical” training we may have, all of us in Threnody Ensemble spent our formative years playing in bands. The music we make now is inextricably linked to popular music. But because we record for a “new music” label and write pieces that surpass a certain threshold of complexity, we are often viewed as “serious” musicians. Ultimately, these distinctions between “popular” and “classical” music all come down to issues of marketing and class. My goal with Threnody Ensemble is to try to complicate these categories — to force people to question the relationship between sound and its cultural signification. The most innovative music, after all, does not fit into any pre-designated categories.
I see the blurring of the boundaries between pop and classical resulting from an attempt by people such as myself to integrate disparate cultural influences into a cohesive expression of the surrounding environment. In the same way that Bhangra resulted from the children of Punjabi immigrants in the U.K. combining their cultural influences (as manifested in Brighton’s techno and their parents’ Punjabi melodies), the hybridity we are experiencing with rock and classical is fuelled by a need to express the full range of a composer’s musical experience, from the music in the concert hall to the music on the street. When I studied at Berkeley, most of the music I really cared about wasn’t even considered music by the majority of my professors, so I think this trend is a great step forward.