Remembering Composer and MTC Founder John Duffy (1926-2015)

John Duffy

With John Duffy, everything was possible. He radiated an optimism as forthright and clear as it was free of guile and self-importance. Though the limits of observable reality might be challenged, audacity never distracted from core purpose. His optimism happily went about its business. It lived solidly on terra firma. It got things done.

Good Old-Fashioned Human-to-Human Connection on a Very Honest Level

People sitting across from each other in pairs in a room. In front a woman listening to music with an earbud that is emanating from a man's laptop.

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.

NewMusicBox Mix: 2015 Staff Picks

mix-feature

Before we bid farewell to year that was, New Music USA staff members have surveyed the 2015 recordings crowding their desktops (real and virtual) and chosen some of their favorite tracks from the past twelve months for a special NewMusicBox Mix.

A Week in Havana

A group of old American cars driving along a major thoroughfare with some old, monumental buildings in the background.

Most concerts of the Festival de Música Contemporánea de la Habana featured Cuban musicians and were heavily populated with music by Cuban composers, but there were visiting performers from Argentina, Canada, Denmark, Korea, Italy, and Spain performing music by composers from their home countries as well as from Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Poland, Taiwan, Turkey, and Venezuela. And, for the first time in its 28-year history, a delegation of musicians and composers from the United States was invited to participate.

Tempering My Friends Anxiety and Doubt

Lainie Fefferman, Matt Marks, Mary Kouyoumdjian, and Daniel Felsenfeld sitting together at a round table.

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.

We Need More (On-Demand) Films of New Operas

Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick

Imagine the possible impact of a subscription streaming service that included a substantial library of contemporary operas. How might such a service expand audiences for new opera? Further the artistic development of the field?

Vertical Performance

A still from the Mass MoCA production of Michael Gordon's opera Van Gogh performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars.

Most serious instrumentalists don’t like to sing onstage. They may have sung in chorus or solfege class, and may sing in the shower, but the spotlight is something else. Adding to the stress, stage direction may take the singer/instrumentalist away from his or her music stand, requiring that the instrumental parts be memorized.

The Gathering Storm: How We Made a Conference

Claire Chase, Lainie Fefferman, Daniel Felsenfeld, Mary Kouyoumdjian, and Matt Marks standing together in an empty room.

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

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