Christina Fong

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(posted in response to Greg Stepanich's reply to RIP VAN ORCHESTRA)

The music I have chosen to record and perform is music I think has artistic value. Whether it is popular or not is of no concern to me. The music I was referring to in RIP VAN ORCHESTRA is music that is both new and popular, but still neglected by North American orchestras. This includes music of Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, Alan Hovhaness, Karlheinz Stockhausen, etc. However, having said this, I don't think this is the only new music which should be performed by orchestras ... rather, this music clearly debunks the academic hogwash that audiences don't like new music.

Not having heard your music, I cannot comment on audience response to it. Also, I am not entirely sure what you mean by "harsher music". About a decade ago, the Grand Rapids Symphony under the direction of Catherine Comet performed (and recorded) Donald Erb's Trombone Concerto with Ava Ordman. The audience went nuts. It was one of the longest and wildest standing ovations I have ever witnessed. Conventional thinking suggests this concert should have been a flop. Instead, it was wildly successful. Why so? First and most importantly, Erb's music, in this case, is fantastic! Second, the music director, soloist, and the orchestra were committed to this piece.

Today, you have orchestras "apologizing" for programming new music. The new music which is programmed is generally a short and unsubstantial piece. It is often preceded by a lecture, often lasting longer than the piece itself. The nature of a miniature piece, even by a great master, is not something which moves people in a meaningful way. At best, it is a sound-bite. To add insult to injury, these shorter pieces are usually not composed by great masters, so the experience is downgraded even further. There is bad music and one can only speculate why these pieces are programmed at all. This lack of dedication, commitment, sincerity and quality will, of course, generate a negative audience response.