Wednesday, June 13, 2007 | You see it all the time. At a concert where the programming combines traditional and new music, audiences listen to the masterpiece, then many bolt for the door before the new work is played.
Poor Beethoven. He would have never made it if audiences had behaved that way for his music. Ditto for Mozart. They were writing the new music of their time. Audiences expected it to be new, anticipated it, judged it.
Today’s concert programmers now place the new work between the war horses (which in themselves were new music at one time). Yet I look forward to opportunities for new music, even though I don’t always like what I hear. Whether they are reworking conventional musical forms or breaking ground with new ones, today’s composers retune my ears, open them up, clear out the wax of the centuries, so to speak.
The University of California San Diego has been a world leader in promoting new music. New music advocates reach well beyond the classroom, however, La Jolla Music Society and UCSD ArtPower’s public arts series program new music regularly, bringing in some of living “big guns” of the 21st century like composer Joan Tower (this year’s Summerfest) and the Arditti Quartet (earlier this year).
This week, the Athenaeum is launching its first ever new music festival — soundON. NOISE, San Diego’s new music ensemble, has presented contemporary music concerts for several years with the Athenaeum. Now, however, the two have collaborated for a four-day festival of works by young composers with music that is hot off the computer from scores printed at Kinko’s and sometimes bound with plastic rings.
What does this music sound like? How does it feel? Is it good? Worse — mediocre? Is it crazy? Impossible to listen to? How does this music feel? I’ll report some answers from the festival’s performances, workshops and parties over the next few days, from the opening concert tomorrow evening to the finale party on Saturday. You can drop in at the festival and our site any time. For a complete festival schedule, go here.