Articles by Matthew Guerrieri
I come to generalize about an entire cohort of composers, based solely—sample size be damned—on the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s May 17 concert at Jordan Hall.
Not surprisingly, Paul Fromm made the production of new music into something resembling the wine business. He took the same approach to music that he did to wine: cultivate relationships with the producers, invest up front, and endeavor to get the subsequent delivery, whatever the quality of the vintage, into the marketplace.
Music is at once the most anti-social and social of the arts, the solitary pursuit of proficiency—practice, composition, study—only manifested in extroverted gestures directed towards and among collaborators and audience. Trust and generosity are, in music, not really sentimental qualities. They’re the currency, the supply chain, the raw materials.
Mohammed Fairouz’s Anything Can Happen—which was given its Boston premiere on March 17 by the Back Bay Chorale, one of the work’s co-commissioners—is a piece of music in which multiple strategies for communicating connotations of seriousness are utilized with unusual skill.
One of the barometers of new-music status in Boston—anywhere, really, but especially here—is whether a group’s concerts feel as much like networking events as performances. BMOP is in that strata; the Boston Composers’ Coalition is, as of yet, not.
“Brando Noir,” the concert mounted on January 29 by the New England Conservatory’s Contemporary Improvisation department, bounced in and out of sync with the cinematic dynamic.
One of the passing revelations of the Callithumpian Consort’s concert in Jordan Hall on Saturday, January 26, was that exactly where along the absolute/programmatic continuum a piece is situated can, in fact, make or break the piece.
Ehnahre, the Boston-based experimental metal group, has a knack for dissonance, amplified into bone-crushing clouts of familiar overdrive distortion. But the real, dark fun of Old Earth (Crucial Blast) is the way the music, fueled by dissonance, constantly slips free of such genre expectations.
“These things are selling faster than egg nog lattes!”
One of the most important tools for a composer to develop is an intuition about material, about its possibilities for manipulation and development. But now that I’ve had enough practice turning off that intuition, I can see and hear how it’s not necessarily the material, or even the choice of material, that makes or breaks a piece of music.