Thursday, March 02, 2006
Heading back from the press announcement for the 2006 Lincoln Center Festival yesterday, I noticed that Steve Reich was sitting on the opposite end of the subway train from me. He had been at the announcement too, even though none of his music was scheduled for this summer. I've met Reich a number of times over the years and didn't want to be invasive—he seemed totally engrossed in his PalmPilot which is something I can totally relate to—so I didn't rush over to say hi. But it struck me as really odd that neither did anyone else. I've witnessed similar things with other top composers over the years from Babbitt to Corigliano so I shouldn't be surprised, but still...
Yes, I can already hear your voices now: "Wake up, Frank! This music is not known by the general public. And, besides, New York prides itself on being a place where you can remain anonymous no matter how famous you are."
And yet, it strikes me as more than a little peculiar and perhaps a little bit sad that even while traveling from the Lincoln Center (New York's alleged mecca for classical music) to Times Square (New York's alleged mecca period), no one noticed him at all. We're talking about one of the most important composers alive today here.
There was a lunatic riding in the same subway car as me earlier in the week who was ranting about what a horrible place the world is because folks are speaking Spanish and Chinese in New York City instead of English and now no one can understand each other. Personally, I've always thought the world would be a better place if we were all fluent in several languages. But I also think we'd be better off if people in this country were aware of who this country's top composers are. Maybe that's just because I'm a composer, but I feel the same way about our important visual artists and writers as well. Common ground in a society goes well beyond language. Thoughts?