I’m staggering, this late December, to the end of my first semester in graduate school, pursuing a master’s degree in composition, but I am thrilled to report that my comrades in the department are just as worn out as I am. This counts as a win because I am 58, and they are younger than my own children.
When I heard that Daniel Felsenfeld, Lainie Fefferman, and Matt Marks were creating this conference, I wanted in even though I didn’t really like conferences–they make me think of barriers and give me the heebie jeebies. But take self-aggrandizement and/or alienation away, and you’re left with conversations and ideas being exchanged between people who simply want to create art and people who want to facilitate the making of that art.
My first reaction was: “Yes! Hell yes! Let’s do it and let’s kick ass at it!” My second reaction was: “Matt, there is no goddamned way on Earth you could do something as complicated and high-stakes as starting a brand new music conference.” Enter my good friends Anxiety and Doubt. They set up shop and didn’t leave until after this whole thing was finished.
It began, as so many things do, with a moment of discourse on social media, a Facebook thread that got—as these things tend to do—heated on a topic I cannot recall. I messaged Matt Marks privately—the modern equivalent of repairing to the hotel bar for the sanity of a quiet drink—and said, simply, that we needed an actual space where these things could be talked about
The visual arts and the sonic arts arrive to us from a distance, via electromagnetic radiation or fluctuations in air pressure, but taste and smell require direct contact. Philosophers have long debated whether the fundamentally different nature of these chemical senses precludes the elaboration of an art of ideas based on them, something that goes beyond the ancient and sophisticated traditions of perfumery or cuisine.