Author Archives: Frank J. Oteri

About Frank J. Oteri

Frank J. Oteri, New Music USA's Composer Advocate and the Senior Editor of NewMusicBox, is an outspoken crusader for new music and the breaking down of barriers between genres. Frank’s own musical compositions reconcile structural concepts from minimalism and serialism and frequently explore microtonality.

Making It Matter

Two Boys

The music that can most clearly relate to the ongoing concerns in our society is the music that is being created right here right now.

Music is the Gateway Drug to Listening

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Just as reading novels or short stories will make you fall in love with written language and ultimately enable you to more effectively communicate as well as comprehend the world around you, a similarly immersive experience with music will make you fall in love with listening and ultimately enable you to more effectively pay attention to others.

Sounds Heard: Noah Creshevsky—The Four Seasons

Creshevsky--Four Seasons

Noah Creshevsky’s expansive 2012 sample-based composition The Four Seasons, which forms the basis of his latest CD release on Tzadik, is hardly without precedent. For starters, there’s Vivaldi, but also Haydn, Fanny Mendelssohn, Glazunov, John Cage, Wendy Carlos, Chen Yi, etc. However, it is one of the most meticulously crafted renderings of this much-traversed concept and is arguably the most elaborate of all of his musical creations thus far.

It Isn’t Over Because “the Fat Lady Wasn’t Singing”

Anna Nicole poster on Subway

Although the president of Local 802 implied that “abandon[ing] an accessible repertoire … resulted in financial disaster” for New York City Opera, most NYCO premiere performances I have attended over the years were packed. In fact, every opera company in the United States would better serve American audiences by presenting more contemporary American operas.

Learn How To Learn How To Learn: On Being a Self-Taught and a Non-Self-Taught Composer

CelebratingMurphyTeaser

I have had a somewhat ambiguous relationship to music education throughout my life. Early guitar lessons were more of a straitjacket than a path to musical creativity, and I ran away from the teacher during my sole piano lesson. I only studied composition formally for one semester and never did anything I was assigned to do. Yet I no longer brag about being self-taught, because many teachers have influenced me.

Never the Same Twice

What makes attending a premiere performance the most exciting concert event that you can experience is the fact that you don’t know what you are going to hear until the music is played. Which is why it ultimately makes no sense when people claim not to like new music.

For Even the “Most Stupid Persons”

Beethoven had always been something of a bête noir for me. Most of his themes seemed insipid, little more than arpeggiated triads and scales. And mind you, I have loved In C, Einstein on the Beach, and pretty much all of minimalism since the first hearing!

Sound Heard: Mark Gustavson—Dissolving Images

Dissolving Images is a great introduction to Mark Gustavson’s compositional aesthetic, one which seamlessly blends heady structural rigor with emotional intensity and humor. Although each of these five pieces—two solos and three chamber works—is strictly notated, some of the material hints at the musical vocabulary of improvisatory traditions ranging from early jazz to Middle Eastern maqam and other non-Western idioms.

Derek Bermel: Context is Key

Whatever genre of music he is engaging in, Derek Bermel is always mindful of its context. That mindfulness, coupled with an insatiable musical curiosity, manifests itself whether he is composing music for an orchestra, playing clarinet with various chamber ensembles, singing in his own R&B band, or jamming with traditional musicians from around the world.