Would you call yourself a maverick? Skip La Plante

Skip La PlantePhoto by Leora Codor If there is a tradition of non-conformity, then is someone a conformist who personally maintains the non-conformist tradition? There was a serious question as I graduated from college. Could I continue to be as I was (already a polished non-conformist as well as a skilled musician who didn’t fit […]

Would you call yourself a maverick? Judith Sainte Croix

Judith Sainte CroixPhoto by Jacqui Reher Music communicates mysteriously in its ability to speak to the soul of living things, not just the human being, but animals and plants as well. It addresses our experiences that are universal and non-verbal. The I Ching has a quote I like, something about music dissolving the obscure tensions […]

Another View: Who Owns It?

Daniel Felsenfeld I want to tell you a story about my new favorite composer. A few months ago a mass was performed by an amateur choral society. Commissioned for the occasion from a local composer/conductor Tristan Foison, the piece was given to the group gratis—they would have to pay no performance rights for this first […]

View from the West: Sacred Music Anyone?

Dean SuzukiPhoto by Ryan Suzuki In recent years, there has been a tiny revival of sacred music, though not necessarily liturgical music. Yet composers today, for the most part, continue to ignore a genre of music that has a long-standing and rich heritage in Western culture. Clearly, we are living in a post-Christian culture that […]

View From the East: How To Be Real

Greg Sandow New music concerts are often informal, especially if we compare them to more normal—or, if you like, stuffier, more ritualized, even constipated—mainstream classical events. This especially interests me because I teach a graduate course at Juilliard, called “Classical Music in an Age of Pop,” a course about the future of the field, which […]

Back to Nature: Tracing the History of an American Classical Tradition

A significant number of the seminal American composers have staked their artistic claims on some constructed paradigm of “naturalness”: Cage’s randomness, Oliveros’s breathing, Reich’s natural processes, Partch’s natural scale, Branca’s rock vernacular stripped down to its basic strum. Most natural of all: banging on the piano keyboard, so beloved of Ives, Cowell, Varèse, Young, Garland.

One of a Kind


The 40 recordings that we received this month spotlight many musicians who have truly crafted their art with a unique approach to music making.

Land of the Free

Frank J. OteriPhoto by Melissa Richard In the past six months, the concept of patriotism has been a dominant theme in conversations all over this country and around the world. Ironically, creative originality is rarely among the enumerations of what it means to be an American. From my vantage point, that seems to be what […]

Would you call yourself a maverick?

Judith Sainte Croix“The impulse to create and the structure and substance of the music, then, are all intrinsically connected. How one gesture follows another, or how pitches are selected, all originates from one place within…” Skip La Plante“It seems kind of weird that a society that teaches maxims like “know thyself!” finds it strange when […]

Leo Ornstein: The Last of the Original 20th Century Mavericks

Leo OrnsteinPhoto Courtesy OHAM Leo and Pauline Ornstein speak with Vivian PerlisFrom the Archives of OHAM (Oral History, American Music) at Yale UniversitySierra Mobile Park, Texas November 19 and 20, 1977 The Elusiveness of Inspiration Today’s Compositional Tower of Babel The Independent Life of Musical Compositions On Serialism, Experimentalism and the Study of Composition On […]