What is the upshot of all this activity? Following a single composer’s thought process as it progresses over the space of 22 years gives these students unique insights into one individual’s artistic mission. Seems to me that they’ve been given a real opportunity to grasp the nature of artistic activity in a way that is clearly distinguished from the superficial handholding many students expect.
After the events of the last few days, these students are in a better position to understand and appreciate the next composer they meet, and the next one, and the one after that. Compare that to the questionable benefit of playing 10 minutes or so of fifteen different composers and identifying general stylistic trends – helpful in its way, but perhaps not as beneficial in the long run.
So much of our world demands that we learn to make snap judgments, marshalling a few salient details into alignment with a bigger picture. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s good to have academic institutions that push us deeper into thought, rather than faster through received opinion.
In the next few posts, I’m going to attempt to lay out how the MUSIC NOW residency worked, in the hope that other institutions may consider using something akin to this format as well. Hopefully I’ll hear from others about similar ventures. I can’t say it is a perfect approach in every way, but it has plenty to recommend it.
It certainly helped that the faculty and students of EMU are exceptionally collegial, curious and mutually supportive human beings.