Archive for September, 2008

I’m surprised I haven’t seen any comments on S21 about John Adams’s recent article in New Yorker (August 25, “Getting in Tune”). I thought it was a fun read. I especially enjoyed his description of the San Francisco avant garde scene in the 70s, which sounded like a specific take on concurrent scenes taking place throughout the country.

Adams is twelve years older than I am. I feel a special debt of gratitude toward him, and others his age, who decided to take their notes and rhythms personally at a time when many were content to choose such things through mathematical procedures or acts of random blindness. They made things that much easier for others to come.

I was a student then, deciding much the same thing, with both greater and lesser consequences. Greater consequences, because students can get squashed pretty quickly for going against the grain. Lesser consequences, because Adams had already begun to make a name for himself by doing the things he would turn his back on – he was risking whatever professional capital he may have accrued to that point.

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Our composition students have a nifty year ahead of them. In addition to all the usual performance avenues, we have three faculty concerts this year in which the performers have requested the opportunity to premiere a student work.
  • First up is the Philidor Percussion Group, which has asked for a piece to premiere here in January, with a subsequent performance at nearby UNCG.
  • Also in January, tenor Glenn Siebert and mezzo Janine Hawley are performing a concert of works having to do with the seasons. They’ve asked our students to submit songs about autumn.
  • For February, cellist Brooks Whitehouse has requested a piece for cello and children’s chorus — a striking combination – I think he is planning three performances in all.
  • Besides our faculty programs, the Winston-Salem Symphony is having its second annual competition for our students to write a piece for them to premiere in March.
  • Then, of course, we have our annual 21st-Century Residency: the Prism Saxophone Quartet will come and, among other activities, have a recording session of student works.

Although our school year doesn’t start for another couple of weeks, I’ve alerted all of our students of these opportunities, and I’m encouraging them to get to work. Deadlines are looming!

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