In my career as a composer – and yes, the word “career” is less than ideal – I’ve come into contact with a wide range of new music communities. One of the challenges in my career has been the fact that I haven’t settled comfortably into any of them; instead, I’ve drifted through and around them.
Every community provides its citizens with a sense of belonging, as well as a system of mutual support. Composers embedded in a close-knit community reap the benefits of membership: performances, grants, commissions, promotion, camaraderie. Some communities are more exclusive than others, but 100% inclusivity is seldom possible. When I interact with an unfamiliar community, I usually get a cordial response, but the lines of separation, though never visible, are always tangible.
New music communities inevitably see themselves as benevolent entities, and often see one another as fenced-in properties, greedily protecting greener resources from outsiders. It’s a perfectly understandable point of view, one that has been noted countless times before. Human nature, that occasionally transcendable force, inhibits us from properly valuing what we have. I’m no exception, I’m sure.