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.
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!
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.
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.
When you compose a piece of music it is something for which you are taking responsibility. I was reminded of this last week when I observed the final session of the first American Composers Orchestra/Mannes Summer High School Composers Intensive.
All of us, not just those of us who are involved with music, waste so much time dwelling on the past as well as trying to predict what the future is, when in fact the only thing we can really affect is the present.
As a singer and instrumentalist who has worked in at least a dozen different musical genres, Caleb Burhans has always been drawn to the inner voices preferring to, as he puts it, “play second violin or viola than first fiddle.” This attraction spills over into his own deceptively simple, extremely meticulous musical compositions.
I must confess that to me the concern about the dwindling readership for music blogs is something of a tempest in a teapot, but then again I’m someone who is perpetually skeptical of best-selling novels, Billboard-charting albums, blockbuster movies, and highest Nielsen-rated TV shows.
Information technology now develops faster than any of us can keep up with, and to what end? If there is no permanence to the formats we use to store information, what is the point of storing information in them?
While Jacqueline Humbert and David Rosenboom’s Daytime Viewing is a by-product of that brief window in the late 1970s and early 1980s when a fusion of experimental music and New Wave created numerous uncategorizable hybrids, it is also very much a harbinger of our own much longer-lasting “indie-classical” zeitgeist.