View From the East: Music in a Time of War

Greg Sandow In the wake of our disaster, I want to ask why music moves us so much. “Music is the nutrition of the soul,” I heard Zarin Mehta say about a week after the events as he introduced a memorial performance of the Brahms Requiem by the New York Philharmonic. “Music is the soul […]

Stars, Stripes, Batons and Circuits: American Music For Orchestra and Electronics

Elliott SchwartzPhoto courtesy Ohio State Universi The launch of the American Symphony Orchestra’s “Orchestra Tech” Initiative this October seems an appropriate occasion to survey the history of American music for orchestra and electronics. Before beginning, however, we need to define our terms and set boundaries. Specifically, three words–“American,” “electronic” and “orchestra”–can be, and have been, […]

The New Sound Machines


Whether it is the bleeping, crunchy, ethereal sounds created using computers, traditional instruments being stretched to create exciting new harmonics, or simply the ability to hear music from distant parts of the world, contemporary composers and listeners alike have made extensive use of these new sound “machines” to expand our aural capacity.

Bringing the Orchestra into the 21st Century

Frank J. OteriPhoto by Melissa Richard For years, I’ve entertained a fetish for being in spaces that took me away from the present day: walking through ancient ruins like Macchu Picchu in Peru or Volubilis in Morocco, sleeping in Colonial B&Bs in the Northeast or Antebellum homes in the Deep South, or even drinking in […]

Can orchestral music and electronic sound comfortably coexist?

Laurie Spiegel“The few times I’ve tried to combine the two media, I have not personally found any aesthetic benefits…” Alvin Lucier“Often the sounds of one seem to grow out of the other, causing a confusion of identities which creates intense listening moments for the audience…” Joshua Cohen“This process of compositional inquiry and the integrity implicit […]

Orchestra Tech: Introducing Technology into the Orchestra

Ray Kurzweil, Gil Rose, and Tod Machover Ray Kurzweil, Gil Rose, and Tod Machover September 24, 2001 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA Moderated and Videotaped by Frank J. Oteri Transcribed by Amanda MacBlane What is an Orchestra? Why Introduce Technology into the Orchestra? Convincing Audiences and Administrators The Repertoire and the Venue Standardization and […]

What Makes Your Music “American”?

What is “American” classical music? For one thing, I suppose you had to be born in America to write it? Well, what if you were born in another country, moved here and became an American? O.K., let’s say you were born in the U.S. What makes your music distinctly “American”? Perhaps, the lines are so […]

The World Trade Center Tragedy and New Music

In these completely surreal and horrific times, I count myself among the lucky who have not lost any family, friends or colleagues in the horrible tragedies that occurred at New York City’s World Trade Center, at the Pentagon in Washington DC, and 80 miles outside Pittsburgh. Thankfully, the same is true for all of us […]

Both Ends Across the Middle

Whatever the reason, the music that speaks most directly to me has always been older and newer. And it’s always seemed to me that new music and early music are a lot alike.

California Symphony Taps Stacey Street

Stacy Street assumes the role of executive director of the California Symphony The California Symphony has appointed Stacey Street, currently the interim executive director of the Bay Area’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, as the new executive director. She assumes the post after Labor Day. Street comes to the position with a number of successes behind her […]