Paul D. Miller (a.k.a. D.J. Spooky, That Subliminal Kid) is among 14 recipients of the National Geographic Society’s 2014 Emerging Explorer Awards. The only composer among this group of awardees (who will each receive a $10,000 award to aid further research and exploration), Miller was chosen because his work raises awareness about climate change, sustainability, global culture, and the role of technology in society.
Three iconic jazz composers, a Tejano singer-composer, a traditional Native American drummer, and a blues/gospel/R&B band are among the NEA’s thirteen newly named lifetime honorees.
On paper, the June 17 concert presented by the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice, part of the institute’s annual week of new music training, festivities, and shenanigans, made some piece-to-piece local connections but seemed more miscellaneous on a global scale. In performance, though, a theme kept peeking around the edges.
Sometimes it feels like life is a tug of war—between east and west, life and career, social and personal, work and play, urban and rural, composer and singer-songwriter, professional and academic, serious and jocular, art and business, collaboration and solitude—and I can’t seem to choose my side.
Assumptions are baked into every aspect of music notation, often layered one on top of the other, and they color the kinds of music we can make. Make too many wrong assumptions about a notation and you’ll quickly dig yourself into a hole.
Listening to Robert Erickson’s quartets brings to mind the image of an onion: at first glance, an onion is, well, an onion—basic and non-threatening. But as each layer is peeled away, the onion becomes more pungent and affects the person peeling it with greater, often times uncontrollable intensity.
Why were we silent for nine months as we awaited sums of money that, to us, make or break our ability to pay the rent? For me, the story of the Beethoven Festival is a story of vulnerability: my own individual vulnerability, that of my colleagues, and that of our entire musical community.
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.