When Nick Norton tells people he’s a composer, the conversation usually turns to the music itself. The one question that no one ever seems to ask, however, is “why?”
Paul Dresher has done work in at least three distinct musical streams with equal vigor and equally significant results. But whether he’s creating a fully notated piece of post-minimalist chamber music, a poly-stylistic score for an intense musical theater work, or an idiosyncratic experiment for one-of-a kind instruments of his own design, he’s always operating with the same basic assumptions about his audience.
The Board of Directors of the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University have announced the names of twelve composers selected to receive 2014 Fromm commissions.
Ah, Thanksgiving: a holiday as rich in calories as it is in cultural significance. What’s the proper soundtrack for a day that means so many different things? Why not canvas the work of Chicago composers for music that’s as complex as Turkey Day?
After today, I would never know if a student went on to accomplish something, continue his education, or even be released from prison. I realized as I distributed the scores that I had included my full name as the composer; I was supposed to protect my own privacy.
In open data sets, Suby Raman found a lot of really interesting stories to tell about the performing arts. Because he’s a composer, he knew what to look for in the data and what would matter to people. Because he’s a programmer, he knew how to handle the big data set itself.
If I write music that both satisfies and excites me, and is music that I want to hear, and I’m being honest about all of that, then I’m good. Anything beyond that is a lucky perk, and anything less than that can be worked on until it’s up to snuff in my musical worldview.
Composer, improviser, and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn came up playing country and western music, but her ear eventually led her down a decidedly more singular experimental path. “You’ve got be naked in your mind to be able to play and express yourself—you have to be naked and fearless and that’s not easy, especially the older you get.”
We tried to describe what different instruments looked like and we realized that what we needed was a live concert. There was great concern among the prison administration that the violin was a dangerous instrument. The strings could be turned into a weapon. Emails and phone calls went back and forth for months.
Listening to and trying to understand as much music as possible, even music that you don’t enjoy, is an incredibly important part of becoming a better and better musician. Knowing, experiencing, and learning from more than I knew, experienced, and learned from yesterday is a worthwhile goal.