Author Archives: Alexandra Gardner

The Gift of Original Music

Composers have been dedicating works to performers, commissioners, teachers, and colleagues for ages, but what about music that is not necessarily intended for public performance, such as a lullaby for a newborn?

It Might Get Better, But It Doesn’t Stop

Although over the years, with patience, tenacity (LOTS of it), and (oh yeah!) the continued production of good music, career things can become easier and flow a bit more freely, the hustle is never really over.

John Harbison: Redefining Traditions

Composer John Harbison says that he is trying to “defeat the idea of style.” That is, he tries to approach every new composition with completely fresh ears and eyes, working with totally new musical material and strategies well apart from anything that preceded it. He possesses a deep understanding of music, but the richness of his music is also a byproduct of his broad interests beyond music—such as poetry and history—as well as his untiring curiosity about the world in which we live.

If You Play Something, Say Something

The seeds for some interesting discussion were planted over the weekend when I mentioned to a couple of composers that I had heard their works performed on a concert in California. They were surprised because they hadn’t been notified about the performances! This happens more often than one might think, and while some consider this a good problem to have, it makes others wonder how much they aren’t collecting in performance royalties.

Long Distance Runaround

The nature of long distance musical relationships is not unlike their romantic counterparts—time spent together is fleeting and intense, there is less of a shared daily routine, and extra effort is required to maintain communication during time apart. It’s definitely more complicated than having a musical life primarily in one’s own backyard.

Sounds Heard: Christopher O’Riley/Matt Haimovitz—Shuffle.Play.Listen

It seems perfectly natural that cellist Matt Haimovitz, who in the very early 21st century moved the Bach cello suites out of the concert hall and into what were at the time “alternative” performance spaces such as bars and nightclubs, would join forces with pianist Christopher O’Riley, who has created his own piano arrangements of songs by Nirvana and Radiohead to name just a few.

Seasonal Music, Anyone?

I wonder what makes music sound “spooky” to people—is it the instrumentation? The harmonic language? The melodic lines? No one seemss to be able to pinpoint exactly why they experience some music that way, or for that matter, why they don’t.

Raising Music

Composers are very quick to dismiss their “past selves” in the interest of giving what might be considered an accurate impression of the composer as s/he is in the moment. The only problem is that each moment passes so quickly!

Got Performance Footage?

As you know, one of the things we do here at NewMusicBox is produce video profiles of composers and musicians. The most difficult part of the endeavor is obtaining performance footage—not because it is difficult to get permission to use it, but because very few composers have high quality (or for that matter, any at all) visual documentation of performances!