Archive for the “American Music Center” Category

Updated : 9/6/12 with added thoughts from Laura Kaminsky.

Every so often we have a conversation that changes us for the better. Sometimes, we have this type of conversation with our mothers, our fathers, our close friends and allies, our colleagues, or with an artist. Last weekend I had a profound conversation with the latter, an artist named Laura Kaminsky.

Laura Kaminsky, composer, is also the artistic director of Symphony Space, the renowned performance venue in New York City. She has received commissions, fellowships, and awards as both a composer and presenter from over twenty organizations including the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and the Aaron Copland Fund. Ms. Kaminsky also plays a large role in the operation of many musical and arts organizations including Chamber Music America, and, in the past, New Music USA (formerly the American Music Center), and as a member of the Artistic Advisory Council of the New York Foundation for the Arts, among others. Laura Kaminsky is an important and influential voice in the arts world today. Having the chance to speak with her by phone, I first asked her about her musical upbringing.

Laura Kaminsky (LK): I grew up in New York City, and was surrounded by musicians, painters, writers, and actors. As a very young child I thought I was going to be a painter when I grew up. But I started taking those typical piano lessons at about age ten or eleven, and quickly decided that practicing wasn’t nearly as much fun as making up my own music. This led me to start trying to figure out how to write down that which I made up. So, I was composing at a very young age, untrained, just writing the things that occupied my imagination. Still, I just thought of it as a fun thing to do. [Around this time] I began tormenting my younger sisters because I used to create family musical evenings that I insisted they participate in. We would perform these programs on the weekend for our parents. I think this is probably where I got my passion for producing.

When I was about 13, it was that time in New York when, if you were a public school kid, you could test and audition to go to a special high school. I wanted to go to [LaGuardia High School of] Music and Art, and originally I thought I was going to audition with an art portfolio. As I got closer to the day of the testing, however, I realized I was more passionate about my time spent in music, and requested that I switch my art audition to a music audition. I got in not because I was a particularly good pianist or clarinetist (that was my second instrument) but I think because I presented music that I wrote, and performed one of my own compositions. My four years at M&A were profound and formative; many of my friends today still date from that time, and many are living active lives in the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Yesterday, Alex Ross wrote a short essay on The Rest is Noise about next season’s offerings at the New York Philharmonic. After discussing several highlights, including Stockhausen’s Gruppen at the Park Avenue Armory, the NYPO’s first presentation of a piece by Philip Glass (!), and a new work by John Corigliano, he pointed out some curious omissions.

Ross wrote,”The Contact! series will elicit new works from Alexandre Lunsqui, Yann Robin, and Michael Jarrell. The series has no American music this year, nor is there any music by women in the entire season.”

Like Ross, I’m very excited by some of the other programs the NY Phil has in store for audiences, but I can’t help but wish that both Contact! and the season in general were more diverse.

Let’s help them out: a list of American women composers that should appear on Contact! and subscription concerts at the NY Phil.

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…take a brief survey and tell them how they’re doing.  If you’re a current or lapsed member of the American Music Center or the American Composers Forum, they are hosting a joint online survey to better understand how their programs are serving you and how you view these organizations’ roles in meeting your needs in the continually changing new music field. The survey lasts about 10 minutes and is active through May 28, 2010. Run on over and give them your feedback.  The survey is here.

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do i hear $50?Like to own a piece of potential history? Or maybe just somebody to lug your bags around? Grab some fare or flair, from fluff to full, all to be had at the American Music Center’s 70th anniversary online auction fundraiser. Proceeds will support the Center’s ongoing programs, which have been working to build a national community of artists, organizations, and audiences creating, performing, and enjoying new American music for a good chunk of the last century.

The list of auction items is eclectic, to say the least. I’m not really seeing the musical value in a gift certificate for some beef, or tickets to a comedy club (except maybe to feed that starving artist, and give them a few ideas for that next absurdist chamber opera)…  But there are quite a few truly special treats to be had: how about tickets to the New York City Opera complete with backstage tour? A private salon concert by the wonderful violinist Jennifer Koh? Commission your dream piece from Steven Stucky or Robert Xavier Rodriguez? Get some personal consulting on your composerly career from market-savvy composer Alex Shapiro? Vocal coaching with Paul Sperry? And my personal favorite — name your own David Rakowski piano étude!

The material’s even better for you autograph hounds: not only signed sketches and manuscripts from the likes of Stucky, Bernard Rands, Augusta Read Thomas, Tobias Picker, there’s the conductor’s score of  Three Occasions by Elliott Carter, signed by the grand old man himself! For the ‘multiples’ collector, there are special “Pulitzer Prize Packages” — each of which includes both a signed CD and signed score of their prize-winning composition — from Bernard Rands, David Lang, John Corigliano, and Melinda Wagner. All this and more, more more!

The bidding opens Thursday Nov. 5th and runs through Nov. 20th. Some seriously good stuff, some seriously useful stuff, some seriously silly stuff — no matter, it all goes to benefit the efforts of the most fundamental and over-arching organization in the U.S., for the advocacy of New Music and the people who make and play it.

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