Jay C. Batzner is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida where he teaches theory, composition, and technology courses as well as coordinates the composition program. He holds degrees in composition and/or theory from the University of Missouri Kansas City, the University of Louisville, and the University of Kansas.

Jay's music is primarily focused around instrumental chamber works as well as electroacoustic composition. His music has been recorded on the Capstone, Vox Novus, and Beauport Classical labels and is published by Unsafe Bull Music.

Jay is a sci-fi geek, an amateur banjoist, a home brewer, and juggler.

As I have foreseen

Last night's popularity contest masquerading as a concert fell along party lines. Four pieces were played for flute, cello, and piano. The audience was to vote on the winner. Since the majority of the crowd was composers, it really depended on who brought the most friends.

The worst part was, the best piece - by far, got no recognition. Instead, a piece which played it safe and made no structural sense, but was kind of pretty, won. But, again, that was because the composer brought the biggest voting block. The MC of the evening tried to say that the distinction between a winning piece and a non-winning piece is a small one. He couldn't be more wrong. The distinction between winning and not winning is insurmountable. Who cares if you "almost" won? As someone who has never won a contest, and is getting almost zero recognition in the job hunt, I can safely say that winning contests DOES make a difference.

Enough about that. After intermission, a huge group got on stage and played In C. It was the first time I've heard the piece live. I was disappointed. I try not to speak ill of student performers. They, as individuals, played well. The whole group, though, missed the point of the piece. It was a bunch of individuals on stage playing through the melodic snippets. The end result was rather bland and flat. No passion. And without passion, you can't sell the piece. They didn't seem to be having any fun. Oh well. I'm glad they did it. They should do it again. And again. And again. And again.

Oh, and HUGE props go out to Jim Clanton. He was The Pulse. On xylophone. For 45 minutes. It was like watching a Zen master meditate in the middle of a football game.

The whole "overnotation" discussion is having some very disturbing results in student performers. In C doesn't have any dynamic or phrase markings and the majority of the players performed it that way. I think that we now HAVE to overnotate because our performers won't (or, what I truly fear, can't) interpret new music. I have to tell them what to do at every stage of the game because they won't figure out phrasings or dynamics or emotional content on their own. Many local performers see contemporary performance as a burden. Just tell them what they need to do to get through the piece. Interpretation and art should be saved for music that matters.

*sigh* Sorry about being on the dark side all week. I try to be positive. As much as I can. Sometimes, though, it falls apart. Next week will be better.