The past week’s debacle surrounding Osvaldo Golijov’s Sidereus overture was set off by two friends attending an orchestra concert in Eugene, Oregon, and the resulting article in the Eugene Register-Guard over the weekend has brought to light a panoply of issues whose ripples are still moving quickly throughout the music community and may have ramifications far beyond the individual situation.
Between self-publishing, creating performance opportunities through the initiation of new ensembles and concert series, managing commissions, and balancing the various challenges that accompany the life of the freelancing artist, composers find themselves in need of a wide swath of experiences outside of the classroom. Slowly over time, programs have been experimenting with ways to incorporate these additional concepts into an already-packed list of requirements.
We all tend to focus on the “important” stuff when we think about composers—what they’re trying to say, how they’re saying it, and what effect their work is having on the world around them. There is, of course, nothing wrong with this, but it tends to foster the habit of thinking of a particular composer as more of a concept than a person. By getting a chance to walk through the spaces in which these talented artists work, I am reminded of who they really are—not as names, but as simple, everyday people.
One of the vestiges that I have clung to from my pre-teaching days is the idea that I can compose at any time during the year, regardless of what else is going on in my life. I’ve prided myself on the fact that I could “turn it on” when I found time and could write effectively well into the night. As you might imagine, such habits are not exactly healthy.
It is not often that one gets such a parallax viewpoint on the subject of new music in the mainstream media, and the opportunity allows those of us who are active in the profession not only to digest and react to what is being said but also to gain a better sense of how our world is seen from “outside the beltway,” so to speak.