A couple of months ago, I came across a new disc devoted to Christine Southworth’s music with an immediately identifiable title, String Quartets. But after hearing the truly new sound world she created in her earlier disc—called Zap! Music for Van de Graaff Generator, Tesla Coils, Instruments & Voices—I was quite sure she’d create something totally unusual despite using the most popular instrumental combination in all of chamber music. She did not disappoint!
Who is Luke Cissell? It sounds like the name of a character from either a Louis L’Amour or Flannery O’Connor novel, or perhaps the protagonist in something published in Astounding Stories magazine. Fittingly, the press release that accompanied a CD of his music described it as “bluegrass on a distant planet.”
Most artistic endeavors in the 21st century have become completely blurry from both an aesthetic and an economic standpoint. I would argue that there never were only two “kinds” of music, but now the two larger umbrellas of “art” and “commerce” hold no water at all. I would also argue that the wall that divided the “two kinds of music” from one another were equally harmful to both sides.
I’ve always found it remarkable that Sean Hickey, who is also the national sales and business development manager for Naxos of America, has had time to create any music of his own. But what is perhaps even more extraordinary is that despite his seemingly never-ending immersion into so many other people’s music, he has found his own distinctive compositional voice.