Archive for April, 2006

Recently, I attended a church service where the speaker offered this as a qualification for art: it has to stand the test of time. Indeed, this is fairly conventional wisdom, but I propose that it is time to challenge that wisdom.

We still have “Flight of the Bumblebee.” We still have that painting of Dogs Playing Poker. Years from now will we be able to find the Greatest Hits of country super-group Alabama? Probably. Art? Not to my mind, but it depends on whom you ask.

What about works written for the now? It seems reasonable to me that a work reflecting a current situation could have powerful meaning in a specific moment, for a specific crowd, in a specific place. Then the same work could be meaningless in a different context. To say a work must “stand the test of time” is really to say it must have mass appeal to be art.

Since when has art had that?

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My wife (and my first-call woodwind specialist), Christy Banks hosted a single reed symposium at Millersville University a few weeks ago. I had a couple of works performed, and some members of Lincoln, Nebraska’s New Music Agency came out to play. The crowd was the kind I most enjoy– between fifty and a hundred fairly curious listeners, some experienced in new music, others completely new to it. The pieces were played well and there was good conversation afterwards.

It made me realize that I have something in Nebraska and Alabama that I don’t have in Pennsylvania yet: Performers who champion my music. That will change soon enough, but for now I’ll be leaning a little harder on me, my wife, and my electronic music chops.

At least the projects are coming. I’m currently nursing the following: a commission with a choreographer as part of the Susquehanna Arts Trail, a commission for a trombone quartet’s performance at a convention, a meet-the-composer residency in Nebraska, and a performing tour from here to the southeast. That stuff doesn’t happen until 2007 though, so for now I’m doing a lot of meetings. Man, it takes a lot of meetings to get projects going.

And I do like the “meeting” part of it to an extent, but if anyone wants to be my Nadezhda von Meck, I’d totally say yes”¦

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