I can’t help but feel the need to explore the possibilities, if for no other reason than to find a solid balance between a focused understanding of today’s new music and a broad accessibility to as many creative artists as possible, irrespective of style, locale, or pedigree.
At the annual Midwest Clinic in Chicago, thousands of pre-college and college students, educators, and professionals create a massive scrum of lanyards, tote bags, free CD’s, fried food, and—most importantly for composers—networking opportunities.
“Let the music speak for itself” is a noble concept, but in today’s age of pre-concert talks, grant proposals, and public interaction, running the gauntlet of a composition jury can help to prepare composers for what is to come.
Taste and individual interests will always drive us to those composers and performers that resonate with us, but I think we have found common ground from which to propel our artistic dialogue into the future.
There are many differences between the worlds of concert music and of film music, but one striking similarity is how little those who aren’t intimately involved with the process know and understand about what actually happens as concert works or film scores are being created.
Sometimes we need to set aside the training that can shackle us to what can or should be done and instead to tap into the sense of “play” that comes so naturally to us when we’re young and have no concept of boundaries or rules or expectations. One of the biggest challenges along these lines is that many of us don’t recognize when we’ve stopped “playing,” especially after so many years of accruing the necessary tools to perform/create at a high level.
A year and a half later, there are finally signs of what effects the Sibelius shakeup has had and what the future holds for those who see notation software as an irreplaceable tool.
The concert reviews won’t mention them, historians will only consider them if there is a scandal, and the audience won’t think twice about them, but it is often those who stand just offstage who provide a vital and necessary component to the birth and growth of much new music.
While competitive drive can be unhealthy if left unchecked, if focused correctly, it can also be turned into an advantage that can reap benefits for everyone.
It is all too easy for those of us who are active in new music to get so focused on the workings of the business–be they awards, commissions, premieres, recordings, scandals, spats, or celebrations–that we lose sight of the simple gifts inherent within our art form.