Ironically, the avant-garde might be the old guard’s best bet for bolstering the audience for classical music, and vocal music might lead the way.
The technology of the 21st century may have numbed the exoticism that comes with living overseas and rendered the sense of national rootedness more fragmentary and ephemeral. But the creation of identity—a trigonometry of closeness and distance, allegiance and rejection, composition and reception—remains an essential one for any artist.
Knowledge is power, and power is not something that composers have historically enjoyed. If you want to be in control of your circumstances instead of letting your circumstances control you, it might well be time for a different kind of education.
Soon after Thomas Wirtel, a.k.a. Thomas Shabda Noor, met Morgan Powell at North Texas State University in 1957, experiments in group improvisation commenced on a weekly basis, experiments profoundly informed by music of the 20th-century avant garde.
Bunita Marcus’s process of composing The Rugmaker was quite literally her process of remembering the trauma that had happened to her as a child.
There are as many ways to be caught up inside of a melody as there are melodies themselves, and each of them loops itself into our internal hardwiring in a different way.
When Zs formed, there was nothing else on the scene quite like it; they’ve succeeded in bringing intellectual music to the club scene, and, for a while, they brought their raucousness into the realms of concert music.
What is the future of “classical” music when the far reaches of a composer’s mind can be fantasized, realized, synthesized and digitally reproduced within a matter of hours, all from the comfort of one’s own bedroom, all without using a single performer or acoustic instrument?
Even as I was signing up for the American Composers Orchestra’s “Compose Yourself” classes last year, I wasn’t sure it was because I wanted to compose; but I hear a lot of new music and sometimes write about it, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to get inside the composer’s head, to understand more of the process and therefore have more insight into the music.
Though recordings are no longer especially financially remunerative in this digital age, there does exist something uniquely valuable and not reproducible: the artists themselves.