Critic: Why it’s vital to embrace new music

Posted on: November 8, 2016

“It’s heartening when musicians and writers who believe in contemporary music receive acknowledgment,” writes Anthony Tommasini in Sunday’s (11/6) New York Times. “Still, why does classical music, far more than any other performing art, need ‘champions’ for contemporary work? The implication is that new music is a specialty, some kind of cerebral sideline in danger of languishing but for the efforts of advocates.… Early in the 20th century, for complicated reasons, modernist composers and mainstream audiences slipped into different camps. The field is still coping with the effects of that divide. So, to some degree, special advocacy is necessary in ways that would seem curious in the other performing arts. When performers play any piece they’re excited by, from a Beethoven string quartet to an Andrew Norman piano concerto, they are championing it.… It’s no secret that ticket sales suffer when contemporary works are on the program. But … a new generation of performers and composers, especially some idealistic conductors who hold influential posts at major orchestras, are talking up the adventurousness of new music … simply presenting all the strange, wild new pieces that excite them and letting audiences see what they think.”

Posted November 8, 2016