Bates: New music and America’s unsung orchestras

Posted on: July 11, 2014

In a lengthy post at his blog on Thursday (7/10), composer Mason Bates writes, “Sshh. There’s a hidden story quietly exploding in classical music. It’s the surprising evolution and adventurousness of American orchestras.… You wouldn’t read this story in the pages of the leading newspapers and magazines, most of which are in New York…. American orchestras, particularly regional ones, should get more credit for being more dynamic and courageous than the critical establishment realizes… A more balanced view … would encompass the huge variety of orchestras, especially the unsung regional ones, where the heart of classical music beats.… [New] works must withstand the internal attention of an orchestra and the external attention of a couple thousand active listeners…. Symphonic music is about large spaces, it’s about deep listening, and yes, it’s about the grassroots network of wonderful orchestras around the country. Each one has unique qualities…. It’s a national story. And it deserves to be told.” The column also considers widely discussed statements in a recent newspaper article and blog post by composer Nico Muhly, as well as the changing ways composers are publishing their music and getting it performed.

Posted July 11, 2014

Pictured: Mason Bates and the YouTube Symphony perform a selection from his “B-Sides” for orchestra and electronica at Carnegie Hall, 2009.