Composers frequently bemoan the fact that conservatories are slow to acknowledge innovation. We should try to get over that. They are conservatories, not exploratories. Asking a conservatory to produce new music is like asking a library to write books. Given their mission – to train musicians to perform increasing amounts of music at the highest level possible – it’s amazing how up to date they can be.

So what can conservatories do for us? They can produce musicians in the future who will be equipped to perform our music when we are no longer around. I’m not saying they definitely will, but that’s their mission, that’s what they are designed to do. We have to accept the fact that they move incredibly slowly, but their mission is so daunting, that shouldn’t be so much of a surprise.

It’s easy to look hungrily at institutions that produce vast quantities of musicians every year – seems like such a lost opportunity when you have trouble finding anyone to perform your latest magnum opus. But if we support the mission of these conservatories, gently prodding them in the right direction rather than wishing they would be something other than what they are, they should eventually catch up to us.

If we’re worth catching up to.

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