Author Archives: John Kennedy

Riding the Mother Ship

This month’s issue is one fantastically rich chord. The piano is really more than an instrument; it is also an archetype for music. Whether deeply involved in music or not, most people will find the piano an altar-like place where we confront music at its most elemental. I think a case might be made that […]

Neo Neo-Romanticism

I’m filled with torment. Is the question this month really whether there is such a thing as neo-romanticism in contemporary music? Does such a term refer to composers who are openly and proudly reactionary, led by Gian Carlo Menotti, alive and kicking at 92? But wait—doesn’t Stockhausen have an ego and artistic agenda bigger than […]

The World of X and The New Science

“I dream of instruments obedient to my thought and which with their contribution of a whole new world of unsuspected sounds, will lend themselves to the exigencies of my inner rhythm.” – Edgard Varese I’ve never been an instrument builder, but trained as a percussionist, my first professional initiatives in new music, both as a […]

Fireworks

It’s July and we’re again celebrating that quintessential and sometimes amorphous sense of American independence. And another perennial activity that we always need to be doing in the music world is examining how individual or independent artists, of all kinds, are faring in advocating and presenting their work in the shadow of whatever the mainstream […]

Fanfare for the Common Orchestra Musician

It is hard for me to read this month’s issue and its consideration of composers thinking big for large ensembles, without the back of my mind drifting to the well-publicized troubles of our symphony orchestras. Certainly, there is a bit of a tired refrain at work, and the latest foldings or cutbacks are nothing we […]

Focusing on Our Architecture

We are all familiar with those program or liner notes that are a step removed from generalized music theory and are about as stimulating to read as a legal brief or a software manual. When I was an adolescent and music was my heartthrob, I just didn’t get how something so sensuous could be intellectualized […]

Moving Images

To 19th Century composers such as Wagner, opera had the potential of being a “total art,” integrating drama, dance, visual art and design, philosophy, and poetics within the grand embrace of music. And then along came the cinema. Putting a silver screen across a stage revolutionized the potential of location and reality in telling a […]

Towards Deep Space

The 20th Century gave us a deeper understanding of the relativity of perception in matters scientific as well as cultural. We saw further into outer space as well as further into psychological inner space and the realms of cognition. And as our perception has been expanded, so has our sense of the unknown. Those composers […]

Making History

One of the most interesting aspects of this month’s discussion concerning the historical assessment of American music, is how this concern has its own deep history, a history which has played a considerable role in forming our musical community. Asserting the legitimacy and enduring value of American music has actually been an ongoing concern, even […]

Where Do You Live?

Reading this month’s issue, I wonder how many of you, like me, find resonance with elements of the expatriate sensibility, all the while making your home in the United States. Even as resident citizens, I wonder how many of you feel like exiles to dominant cultural currents, to leading lines of political discourse, or to […]