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.
Beyond exploring our ever-evolving relationship to the natural world over tens of thousands of years, deep ecology, and humorous battle stories, 314 miles into my walk there have been a number of practical concerns and adjustments to make in my remote, mobile residency.
For the inaugural NY Phil Biennial, a large initiative devoted to the newest of the new, the Philharmonic borrowed a concept that is generally associated with the visual arts: the exhibition.
Would a “classical music ESPN” work in bridging the gap between our great musical institutions and every cable-subscribing home in America? By leveling the media playing field, could classical music once again compete for the attention of American households?
This week marks the start of something big, busy, and possibly brilliant in New York: the first edition of the NY Phil Biennial. Beyond what look like some exciting programs, I’m waiting to make any grand assessments on something so damn grand.