For the last article in my series on women in jazz this month, I would like to reflect on a 20th annual series of concerts that we just completed with an eight-piece all female group in celebration of Women’s History Month and to conclude with action steps towards an inclusive future.
I’ve spent much of March travelling around to meet with composers and other people involved in music in different parts of the country. It was a valuable reminder that there is no adequate substitute for direct personal contact with people, plus I learned about some really great music.
Moving to a new town has triggered something inside of me that makes me question everything I do. In trying to analyze the elements of music—Where does it take place? With whom? In what notation? With what instruments?—I’ve been pulled back to a central question: What is our music for?
“Write what you know” is a commonly heard piece for advice for artists, but composer Joel Puckett has taken to heart a slightly different version of this sentiment, which could be stated, “Write what you live.”
The Belgian/Dutch electric guitar quartet Zwerm presents a fascinating collection of one-page pieces by American composers that rely on everything from more-or-less traditional notation to what one might characterize as “Marvel comic super heroes battle a graphic score.”
The American Composers Forum will present its 2014 Champion of New Music award to conductor Marin Alsop, retired ASCAP Vice President of Concert Music Frances Richard, and percussionist Steven Schick, at public ceremonies this spring in Baltimore, New York City, and Saint Paul.
The Piano Spheres concert series, a Los Angeles institution dedicated to expanding the repertoire for the instrument, was a risky proposition at first. But the LA new music community has changed in the past 20 years, and the series has evolved right along side it.
The likelihood of a female teenager volunteering for an improvised solo in front of her peers that includes the option of failure is certainly smaller than her male band mate stepping out to show off his unique personality.
The tricky part of advocating for the arts is that the really important parts are harder to put numbers on. This shouldn’t be surprising; the awesomest parts of art itself are the parts that are hardest to quantify.
Since Ashley’s work was by design extremely collaborative, we wanted to honor his memory on NewMusicBox by having his key collaborators—each of whom are important creators in their own right—share their personal stories about working with him over the decades.