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.
The more consistent one’s style and language are, the easier it is for a select group of performers and listeners to form a strong relationship with a composer over time. Conversely, less consistency can increase the variety and numbers of performers and audiences that enjoy a composer’s works.
The point of playing clarinet in a public school setting isn’t to prepare for a career in a symphony orchestra, but to allow students to see themselves, their work, and their life through a new, creative lens.
Over the past several years, there have been a number of composers, performers, and ensembles that have caught the attention of those in the media. It would be very easy to infer that their music must not only be of high quality but of superior quality when compared with the work of those who are not being noticed…and therein lies the rub.
The relationship between composer and performer has become increasingly symbiotic over the past three decades. Given that fact, it is curious why one of the largest organizations of musicians in the country would decide to pursue such a negative line of questioning with its membership.
We as a community have moved past the didactic “schools of thought” concept that shaped so much of the new music scene decades ago, but we haven’t splintered into an “every man/woman for themselves” concept either.
I can see why the Bureau of Labor Statistics might combine music directors and composers, since neither occupation performs (at least for public consumption) on an instrument or sings in the execution of their occupation. But there are many reasons why this conflation of composers and music directors is inappropriate; our occupation deserves its own category.
We cannot learn about life simply through the sciences or technology or business or marketing or law or even education. Artists need—must—be allowed to “say something important.”
As someone who both creates and teaches for a living, I find myself in a continual and simultaneous state of reflection on the past and projection towards the future. I’m curious: How do you “stay the course” in your own career and life?
The parallels between the emergence of cable television and contemporary music-focused chamber ensembles are numerous. Both are definitely creating new paradigms within their disciplines. However, both fields still experience significant challenges.