Growing up, I was ashamed of being a nerd. This was pretty typical. At the time being labeled a nerd was considered about as bad as showing up to school in nothing but your underwear. Times have changed. It is now a badge to be worn proudly by all of us. We all finally grew up. And took over.
Since I started walking the Pacific Crest Trail seven weeks ago, I’ve undergone a number of physiological and mental changes. One of the biggest changes that has occurred, however, relates more specifically to working with sound and music as a composer—an alteration in my sense of hearing.
The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts sits on a hillside from which little is visible but trees. The setting fosters extended walks and quiet minds. The place itself almost disappears as your thoughts take the foreground. There is only you, and the work.
It came as no surprise that the cancellation of the scheduled simulcast of John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, slated for production at the Metropolitan Opera this fall, has inspired some very active comment section action. But have you heard the work yet? Let’s listen and chat.
Poor attendance at a new music concert is nothing out of the ordinary. However, one of my best-attended concerts featured what was arguably some of the most abstract and adventurous programming that I have placed on Fresno New Music’s calendar.
Last week amounted to a floodgate of new music being opened: from a few new subscription-series pieces per season from major figures and some encouragement to young talent by way of CONTACT! commissions, the Philharmonic and partners performed well over 60 pieces from composers of all stages and many walks of life.
There is freedom in the holes. The holes remind you that the universe is still expanding, the world is still a work in progress, and there is space for your own contributions.
For many young students there is an ingrained belief that classical music is not a part of mainstream culture. It isn’t “hip” or “new.” They find it boring. But do you know what isn’t “old and irrelevant”? New music—by definition, no less!
As the NY Phil Biennial continues, with events every day through this Saturday, I’ve begun to realize how many new pieces and how many composers I’ve heard over the last week or so. My rough count comes to 56 people, with only one name appearing on more than one program.
In December 2013 I gave away many of my possessions, moved out of my apartment in Chicago, and set out on the darkest day of the year—abutted in nearly every direction by sleet and snowstorms—to drive to the west.