Sounds Heard: Michael Ching—A Midsummer Night’s Dream

MidsummerNightsDream

Michael Ching’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is resolutely tonal, frequently extremely tuneful, and sometimes borders on pop. Yet it is radical and totally unexpected. There are no instruments in the orchestra, every sound is made by voices. It sounds nothing like what you might imagine an opera based on Shakespeare would sound like. And yet it totally works.

“Which of these Aaron Jay Kernises am I?”

kernis-poster

An orchestra sensation at age 23. Published by 30. Then a Pulitzer Prize and a Grawemeyer. Now a biography. What’s left after someone writes up the story of your life? Aaron Jay Kernis just keeps on going, continuing to balance composing, teaching, and raising a family.

Location, Location

US Map

While localities and regions may be less important in terms of a specific shared sound or group of influences (although that’s still a possibility, too), I’d contend they remain essential as accumulations of a “critical mass” of resources and opportunities to collaborate.

Style Points

Assorted spices on wooden background

Looking around, listening around, culture is as stylistically non-hegemonic as I’ve ever experienced. But parallel to that is a kind of greater semiotic compartmentalization: the vast majority of cultural artifacts I encounter keenly announce their stylistic allegiance early and often.

Dying From Exposure

Desert walk

What is not problematic on an individual level can become catastrophic on a larger level, and I worry that we are rapidly ruling out pretty much every scenario that would allow a typical musician to make a living.

What Are We Afraid Of?

mask

It’s important to put your best face forward professionally. We’re all hustling for gigs, and it doesn’t make sense to do anything but make yourself look as appealing as possible. But perhaps there is another layer to it.

The Media and the Message

bullhorn

Knowing the specifics about each media outlet in your area can help you to target your communications more effectively. And there’s no real reason one has to choose between traditional and social media; a comprehensive communications plan should include both.

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