Out of all of the possible composer-in-residence responsibilities discussed in my early conversations with the Reno Philharmonic, education made me the most nervous. But due to a strong, long-forged partnership between the orchestra and the local school district, it became clear that a large focus of my time in Reno would be devoted to facing my fears. As we began shaping our plans, I began researching.
Like nearly all arts organizations, the mission of many orchestras (in the U.S. and abroad) has grown to incorporate the hazy nebulae of “Education and Outreach.” Of course, it’s the obvious thing to do. But, for me, it’s another symptom of the precarious position of art in our culture. Over the last 50 years, one could point to a shakedown and oversimplified sorting-out of art and entertainment.
My experiences as a Reno native will certainly inform my time there, but whether I will be more relevant as a resident composer than anyone else is a different question.
Must the composer be a public figure to exist at all?
After spending at least a year lying awake at night imagining all the ways my New York Philharmonic premiere might not go that great, I have to admit it: I’m pleased.
I understood that if I wanted to keep writing music under any circumstance like this for a long time, this piece had better be all I had to give. If not my best work, certainly my best effort. I felt that I was writing for my life.
By Sean Shepherd
Like many top American ensembles, the Philharmonic has fluctuated between worship of the glorious past (pretty damn good, no?) and the altogether messier business of interacting with these living guys (I’ll give it to them, we can be unpleasant!); sometimes the pendulum swings by the decade and sometimes by the week.
By Sean Shepherd
One thing all composers, including myself, slowly begin to realize in the rather slow, often-wrenching transition from wide-eyed kid to seasoned pro is that art imitates life: it’s just not fair.
Composer Sean Shepherd is back to blog his way through the world premiere of his first New York Philharmonic commission, These Particular Circumstances, as part of CONTACT!, the orchestra’s new music series.
I’m still as excited as I was before I arrived in Minneapolis 10 days ago for the Composer Institute.