Hello? Contemporary Music? Are you There?

Since moving to Cincinnati, I’ve experienced some beautiful, amazing, and emotionally moving music. Many of those experiences coming from beautiful concerts by the Cincinnati Symphony – a group of amazing musicians who, you can obviously see, love their jobs.

Or, the Classical Revolution at the Northside Tavern – where one can enjoy a refreshing beverage – or two or maybe 4 – and listen to both standard and non-standard classical music. It feeds ones love of drinking and chamber music, like a two for one deal. And rarely have I seen the Tavern not crowded, elbow to elbow, during these events.

But, I feel like the one thing I’ve been missing, since my move here, is a strong presence of contemporary music. Experimental music, atonal, chance, you know what I’m talking about. Ever since leaving NY and being exposed to contemporary music, studying it, loving it, breathing it – I feel like I’ve been left out to dry – my soul is yearning for some Ligeti – Chamber Concerto (Watch this video, it’s A-mazing).

I’m determined to put together a group of CCM musicians with the same desires and goals – to seek out new works and compositions – perform them and re-enlighten our ears, which have become so jaded by the redundant practicing of the Beethoven 6 excerpts. Roberto Sierra, Steven Mackey, Steven Stucky, Elliot Carter – these should be household names. And as musicians, we should know these ensembles and they should be a part of our daily listening diet: Strike, Eighth Blackbird, Ensmeble InterContemporain – just to name a few. I want to bring some new light and sounds to this place, taint the drinking water so to speak.


Mmm…Carter would be hot right now.

I’m not certain how this “particular” project will pan out. I’m hoping to get in touch with a few composers and ensembles to see who I can persuade into coming out and giving a master class. This music is really the wave of the future – we should be learning and immersing ourselves in this kind of music just as much as one would study Beethoven. Think of how your study of Shulamit Ran’s “A Monologue For Clarinet,” could help your performance of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. Maybe – because you analyze the Ran, and study its irregular phrases and extended technique, that when you come back to the Mozart, you can more readily identify his phrasings and his annoying arpeggiated passages are way easier than they were before doing the Ran.

When you have to make music out of atonal notes scattered across the page, it makes you a better player. I’d compare it to, maybe, reading a sentence like: WE:J L:>LS :LKFJIE KJEF WE, and forming a cohesive statement. But, when you really look at it – it reads, “I love you, more than you’ll ever know.” (and, I mean, I could say that, I just mashed to keyboard down – I’m too lazy to think of something clever right now). It makes being a classical musician – far easier – freer.
Okay – stepping off soap box to practice…Beethoven 6.
Happy music making friends.
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