The Gospel According to John Corigliano

The Gospel According to John Corigliano

Thursday, December 9, 2004—3 p.m.
New York, NY

Transcribed and edited by Frank J. Oteri
Videotaped by Randy Nordschow
Additional video material recorded on October 26, 2004 at the American Academy of Arts and Letters during a recording session of the Corigliano Quartet produced by David Frost.

John Corigliano
John Corigliano

No matter how immersed in the new music community I’ve gotten, I always get a taste of the outside world at least twice a day when I ride the New York City subway to and from the American Music Center. Aside from frequently running into composers, musicians, and people who work in the biz on an almost daily basis, or the occasional spontaneous concert experience of musicians actually playing in the subways, the worlds of the subway and new music don’t overlap.

Which is why it was as much a shock as a delight the first time I looked up from a book I was reading and noticed the smiling face of John Corigliano on an ad for Lehman College. Underneath the caption “Meeting of Minds,” there he was, shown with one of his students and next to a superimposed Academy award. After the usual subway fare of foot pain and injury lawyers, it was so refreshing to see an ad that really celebrated a living American composer.

I’ve wanted to talk with John about his world view for NewMusicBox for a very long time and there were certainly a million and one other reasons for doing so—the upcoming premiere of his symphony for concert band which promises to be a major addition to the repertoire, his outspoken remarks about conductors and orchestras in this country, his less-than-adulatory take on many of the major awards even though he has won just about every award there is, his piece for two pianos in quarter tones from a few years back which pressed my particular buttons, and on and on—but there was something about that ad in the subway which took him once and for all out of “our world” and put him into “the world” for me.

During our talk, John repeatedly emphasized the importance of “the world” over “our world,” challenging us always to see the bigger picture in order to be better composers, better listeners, and better citizens. I hope you will find it as inspirational as I have.


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