Articles

Schizophrenic Composer/Performer

I realized I would not be able to learn what I wrote, and so I moved on to revising. Was this piece so difficult that saxophonists would not be able to learn it accurately? Or was I, as the performer, not capable of achieving the composer’s vision?

What’s a Musician Worth?

We musicians get a lot of conflicting information about what kind of compensation our work deserves. Too often, the message is that if you’re in it for the money, something’s probably wrong with you.

The Tyranny of Lists

“Listy” thinking—the notion that anything as elemental and sloppily chaotic as music (or any art, for that matter) can withstand ordering, this-or-that-ing—can be, at best, problematic. The list can take the place of the work much like ideas of the people involved can be easily replaced by received notions. And that represents a danger because when something complicated is easily and quickly understood, the chances are that you are doing something wrong.

Cage = 100: Walking Along Paths the Outcome of Which I Didn’t Know…

Five days after the death of colleague and friend John Cage, I produced and hosted a two-hour tribute broadcast on the New York City radio station WBAI-FM. Only a few of the many, many friends who were also close to him could be invited and the emotions of the moment were still raw. Now, all this time later, it’s hard to believe he’s no longer with us.

Cage = 100: Tudor and the Performance Practice of Concert for Piano and Orchestra

Many of John Cage’s scores seem to allow performers a degree of freedom that often leads to interpretations that, by the composer’s own admission, do not reflect the spirit of the work. This is a problem of both attitude and notation. If we are to continue or reconstruct the tradition, we must look to the one performer in particular who defined and was defined by the performance practice of Cage’s music – the pianist, composer, and electronic musician David Tudor.

Cage = 100: Provenance and Process—100 Waltzes for John Cage

Sometimes, the thoughtful and respectful recreation of a work is the deepest form respect. Other times, taking that work, using it as a diving board to bounce on and leap from, and landing in a cannonball to splash the snoozing pool-side adults is a much more fitting nod. I think Cage would prefer the latter.

Cage = 100: As Influential as Wagner, as Interpretable as Mozart

The idea of comparing Cage to Rameau and Wagner, should lead us to think about Cage the same way as we look at any other composer from the past or present. What should the path then be for a would-be interpreter of Cage’s music? Performing a piece by Cage is no different from performing a piece by Mozart, except for the mechanics of the execution.

Making The Face

Producing my opera The Face outside of the world of traditional opera companies has been both challenging and freeing. Major companies have a significant infrastructure and financial resources, but they also tend to focus on a full season of standard favorites. A new music ensemble or small independent production company can dream and create independently.