Soul of the Nation

CD pie diagram

The artist Boris Schatz once famously said that “art is the soul of a nation.” Working as a composer and presenter of new music in Washington, D.C., where our business is the nation, I tend to think of this phrase a lot.

Aperio: Indie-A-Go-Go

Aperio

Aperio curates concerts that one night might feature contemporary chamber music from the U.S. (like the one I attended last weekend) and focus on the music of Nicaragua the next. The change in focus from one region to the next over the course of a season helps Aperio track and understand trends on this side of the pond as distinct from concert series that include European repertoire.

Andrew Norman: Empowering Performance

Andrew Norman: Empowering Performance

For composer Andrew Norman, the process of composing feels like a tug-of-war between opposing forces. From start to finish, he is constantly questioning, and pushing back on his own ideas in his efforts to create meaningful musical experiences for performers and for audiences. He revels in the visceral experiences of music making, and thoughtfully challenges performers to bring their own ideas to the interpretation of his music.

What Would Grammys Look Like in a Genre-Less World?

Grammy

Though lip service (if not actual airtime) is given to a whole host of musical traditions from Tejano to bluegrass to opera, Album of the Year and Record of the Year (for a single) are still the most important Grammy awards and are inevitably given to commercial popular music, making all the other awards somehow feel like consolation prizes.

History Of The World

World Chart

My articles for NewMusicBox have addressed borrowed material, relevance, and the politics of cross-cultural influence. For the last article in this series, I’d like to zoom in and talk about how these issues played out in one of my own pieces.

A Master Communicator: Remembering H. Owen Reed (1910-2014)

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I believe Dr. Reed was capable of holding at least a 15-minute conversation with just about any English-speaking person, regardless of that individual’s background, education, occupation, etc., at the end of which the other person quite likely would be thinking: “What a nice guy he is!” But I also learned from him that there are times and contexts when it’s appropriate to discuss almost any topic, and other times and contexts when it is completely inappropriate to discuss almost anything.

New England’s Prospect: Three World Premieres in Wildly Disparate Styles

BMOP Intermission

Boston Modern Orchestra Project never seems to run out of juice. It fills a need. It mounts concerts that manage to be both one-stop shopping for the merely curious and essential for professionals. The “modern” in the name has always been as much stylistic as calendrical, but its concert at Jordan Hall on January 17 was aggressively new: three world premieres in wildly disparate styles.

“Sometimes” Music

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What I love about the concept of “sometimes music” is that it sidesteps the thorny, problematic, and anachronistic implication that some musical styles are more advanced than others. It allows its advocates to encourage others to tune in, rather than to engage in tedious, insulting dialogues about which kind of music is up or down.

Finding the Right Balance

Jennifer Charles in Angels Bone

The most exciting music being created today is not the product of a single compositional aesthetic or the work of just one segment of the population. But some of us are still recovering from a century of industry-imposed genres. When we do, it will potentially be a paradise for a truly new music.