Last July, Nathan Brock, a composer, audio engineer and executive director of San Diego New Music, passed away at age 35 from sudden cardiac arrest.
Despite Brock’s relatively short tenure at SDNM, his passing sent shock waves through San Diego’s tight-knit contemporary music community. His work as a composer of technically demanding but lyrical music and as an advocate for the music he loved made him stand out as much as his propensity for wearing brightly patterned waistcoats and distinctive hats.
Guitarist Colin McAllister, who served as SDNM executive director from 2001 to 2009, recalled getting to know Brock at UCSD, where both earned their doctoral degrees. “He was a composer. I was a performer. He made it known to me early on that he liked writing for the guitar, so it was obvious that we’d collaborate.”
What started as a composer-performer relationship developed into a shared vision for championing new composers and contemporary music under the umbrella of SDNM, which is dedicated to presenting challenging, conceptually rigorous music from the past century performed by leading interpreters of new music.
At SDNM, Brock found like-minded individuals, like composer and pianist Christopher Adler, a frequent performer on SDNM concerts and professor of music at the University of San Diego. Adler was so impressed with Brock’s professionalism and musicality that he hired him to teach theory and digtal audio composition at USD.