Articles by Alexandra Gardner
It seems like there has been a recent upsurge in books, articles, blog posts, and assorted media content geared towards jump-starting personal creativity. These books and ideas can be truly helpful for a lot of people. Sometimes a shot of inspiration delivered by another artist, or even just approaching an everyday action from a different angle is exactly what’s needed to light the creative fire. However, I wonder about the implied messages they send.
Sometimes a composer’s personality can speak volumes about the music she or he writes. Tranquility mixed with pointed curiosity fits both the outward persona of Janice Giteck as well as the character of her work. Her compositions, which focus on chamber music but also include orchestral works and film scores, combine the rigor of Western European musical training with a meld of Buddhist, Hasidic, Javanese, and African influences.
As varied in scope as the archive of compositions in The Eleanor Hovda Collection is, Hovda’s primary intent—to explore the outskirts of the sonic possibilities inherent in instrumental sound and their relationships to the physical world—is clearly expressed in every piece.
Let’s face it, writing a composer biography is hard. It’s really super hard to write one’s own biography, and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever met a composer who is totally content with his or her own bio. It would be great to see some more creative approaches to the composer bio, so we started imagining some, and received great ideas via Twitter.
It seems the momentary topic of choice in the world of classical music journalism is musical “blind spots,” or rather, the music that you try to like—or at least appreciate—but somehow just can’t manage to get there. Is something important being missed by succumbing to blind spots?
I am continually struck by the fleeting nature of a musical performance relative to the amount of human labor involved in making a single performance happen. With artists who produce a physical product such as a book or a painting, there arrives a point at which the thing is done and can be directly experienced by nearly anyone from that point on. But in the time-based medium of music, there always has to be that additional layer of translation in linear time.
As of late, much contemporary opera has been reducing its footprint by relying on smaller forces for performance and documentation. Darkling, with music by Stefan Weisman and libretto by poet Anna Rabinowitz, is one such example of an opera that packs a punch even though served in a relatively small container.
I finally registered what is called in the state of Maryland a “trade name” (otherwise known as a DBA), and opened up a business checking account under that name. It was so ridiculously easy to do this! I cannot even believe how long I’ve been putting it off.
Hearing performers breathing can add intensity to a recording, not to mention serve as reminder that the music is coming from a human. I have come to like hearing performers breathing in recordings, and that is probably a good thing since I seem to gravitate towards the big breathers anyway.
A thoughtful blog post by composer Daniel Wolf addressing the concept of “public” spaces (which, as he points out, are not actually as accessible as one might suppose) has got my brain churning about musical performance in unrestricted places. By that, I mean the sort of place where unsuspecting folks would happen upon a musical performance (or whatever sort of performance) and pause to check it out, or run away screaming, or… well something.