Why the audience is just as important as the music

Posted on: January 6, 2014

“Today I want to talk about a notion that is killing contemporary music,” writes Dan Visconti in Thursday’s (1/2) New Music Box. “It is an idea so ubiquitous that it has become difficult to escape: that the audience does not matter as much as ‘the music,’ and that considering the audience as an essential part of music composition is tantamount to pandering…. We’ve been so beat down with Justin Bieber and commercial radio, and also with handpicked ‘flavor-of-the-month’ composers and art movements, that many of us have come to equate music with a broad appeal—and the very desire to connect with audiences—as deserving of only suspicion and derision.… The paradox of contemporary music: music exists to be heard or not at all, yet it’s true that audiences for contemporary music are not as large as any of us would like them to be.… Reaching out to understand and consider others is the way that we truly come to understand ourselves; doing so does not make us weaker but stronger, and requires not abandoning our sense of self, but a kind of inner confidence that we can go beyond ourselves without fear of losing our identity. Don’t stop; go on and on and on until your own musical self becomes larger, kinder, more tolerant, and more whole.” In the forthcoming Winter issue of Symphony magazine, Visconti surveys programs for teenage composers.

Posted January 6, 2014