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.

John Luther Adams Wins 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Music

John Luther Adams

Become Ocean by John Luther Adams has been awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The work, premiered on June 20, 2013 by the Seattle Symphony, was described in the citation as “a haunting orchestral work that suggests a relentless tidal surge, evoking thoughts of melting polar ice and rising sea levels.”

Juan Orrego-Salas: I’ve Written All I Have to Write

OrregoHeadshot

Juan Orrego-Salas (b. 1919) is the last surviving member of a major group of mid-20th century American composers. He was a protégé of Aaron Copland, Randall Thompson, and Luigi Dallapiccola, and a personal friend of Irving Fine, Lukas Foss, and Pablo Neruda, among others. He also founded the Latin American Music Center. His is an important story in the annals of American music.

Getting Out of the Box

Slatkin with EarShot Composers

I’ve spent much of March travelling around to meet with composers and other people involved in music in different parts of the country. It was a valuable reminder that there is no adequate substitute for direct personal contact with people, plus I learned about some really great music.

Sounds Heard: Janice Misurell-Mitchell—Vanishing Points

Janice Misurell-Mitchell Vanishing Points CD cover

The music of Chicago-based Janice Misurell-Mitchell seamlessly weaves elements from high modernism with jazz, Latin, blues, and even funk into an amalgam that is completely its own thing. Vanishing Points, the second retrospective disc of her music, collects six of her chamber music compositions spanning four decades.

Marc Neikrug: An Outlet for Emotional Experience

Marc Neikrug

Part of why Marc Neikrug’s compositions have attracted the attention of so many high-profile soloists is that for many years he was a member of that exclusive club himself—a concert pianist who performed standard repertoire with Pinchas Zukerman in most of the world’s major concert halls. Yet for that reason his music hasn’t always been immediately embraced by the new music community. But he’s perfectly O.K. with that.

Kamala Sankaram: Being One with the Performance

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Like many music makers of her generation, Kamala Sankaram creates and performs work which is an amalgamation of a wide range of musical traditions. But at the root of everything she does, there is usually a strong sense of narrative. Most recently, she took on the most vaunted form of “dramma per musica”—opera—with Thumbprint, which was one of the highlights of the 2014 Prototype Festival.

What Would Grammys Look Like in a Genre-Less World?

Grammy

Though lip service (if not actual airtime) is given to a whole host of musical traditions from Tejano to bluegrass to opera, Album of the Year and Record of the Year (for a single) are still the most important Grammy awards and are inevitably given to commercial popular music, making all the other awards somehow feel like consolation prizes.

Finding the Right Balance

Jennifer Charles in Angels Bone

The most exciting music being created today is not the product of a single compositional aesthetic or the work of just one segment of the population. But some of us are still recovering from a century of industry-imposed genres. When we do, it will potentially be a paradise for a truly new music.

Eric Nathan: Making It as Clear as Possible

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While Eric Nathan doesn’t have a secret strategy for garnering so many compositional accolades (top awards from ASCAP, BMI, and SCI, the Rome Prize and a recent commission premiered at the ISCM World New Music Days), he is extremely pragmatic. But there’s also something of an element of whimsy as well as a deep love for visual art that fuels his creative process.