Is classical music stuck in a “Temple of the Familiar”?

Posted on: May 23, 2013

Monday (5/20) on, Frank J. Oteri comments on a concert by the New Jersey Symphony at NJPAC that paired the East Coast premiere of Steven Mackey’s piano concerto Stumble to Grace with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 “a piece of music that is performed almost every season by virtually every orchestra in the world. … Mackey’s piece and its performance deservedly received resounding applause, and the composer was on hand to take several bows. But after the Tchaikovsky, which was on the second half of the program, the audience was ecstatic. … In such an environment, a Temple for the Familiar if you will, new music—by its nature that which we have not before experienced—is doomed to failure, so the fact that Mackey’s piece, as stunning as it is, got any applause at all is a minor miracle. But what can we do to change that? … The new music community needs to make less of an emphasis on premieres and put more energy into making less familiar repertoire (e.g. recent compositions) more familiar by programming the music tons of times. A new piece should get programmed several times during the course of a season, not just one time or for a single consecutive run of performances.”

Posted May 23, 2013