In this new and somewhat turbulent era for classical music, our own personal success isn’t just about us anymore. The old model is no longer relevant because simply having a job or being a superstar doesn’t necessarily contribute to our communities or to our art.
The Affordable Care Act made maternity coverage more accessible for freelance musicians. But is contemporary music—its career arcs, social scenes, traditions, and infrastructure—ready for a baby boom?
You want to grow your audience, but you have limited resources, so you target your marketing efforts at the groups most likely to respond to it. Sounds familiar? Sensible? It is. But almost everybody does it wrong.
It is my hope that no one—especially young musicians—should ever face the shame and the self-questioning that poverty could force on them. Music, and more importantly access to music and music education, is vital to all communities.
I believe that artists, more so than scientists or the religious, carry the seeds of miracle works inside them. And I believe we are seriously underperforming.
The milieu of new music has splintered into factions, each with its own loyal but marginal audience. All of these groups believe that they have meaningful formulas for creating provocative work, but what good is that work if no one outside the communities where it is generated has access to it?
Conductor Susanna Malkki leading the Chicago Symphony felt like a massively successful non-event. A woman was on the podium, and everything seemed to be in order. But while Malkki is unquestionably a master, she is also, statistically, a unicorn.
If you follow the American Composers Orchestra and you stay on top of your composer opportunities, you might have noticed ACO’s most recent Earshot post on Facebook: readings for emerging African-American composers. I was surprised to see some comments that weren’t so positive–comments that reflect some dangerous thinking.
Three years ago, I began a job teaching English as a second language (ESL) at the Boston Conservatory. There were no pre-existing texts for teaching second-language learners to use English to write and speak effectively and naturally about music, so I made my own. Despite success in many aspects of this endeavor, a glaring problem remains: my students have tremendous difficulty with the seemingly simple task of describing a piece of music.
There is a deep, reverberating echo of history in composer higher education, and a palpable unspoken dialogue between current and past students, faculty, and guest artists. Today I continue to look for new ways to engage with our students, all the while drawing upon the words and wisdom of those who laid the foundation for my own pedagogy.