I attended a concert at Manhattan School of Music last evening which showcased the faculty of the new music program there. It was an evening of excellent programming and performances. What struck me most as I sat there enjoying hearing many old friends was the typical feeling of "wow, we're all grown up now" but I also thought how lucky these young musicians are to have such fine examples to emulate. When I was in school you had to go a little farther away from school to hear this kind of music.
All of the music was handled with style and grace by the now yeoman members of the faculty for new music that Patti Monson surrounds her students with. The performance all had a sparkle to them in that they were played with a real care and love for the language they were speaking. Navigating through the scores of some very different composers as a listener was easier than I thought it would be from just looking at the score. The placement of pieces worked well together and gave the evening a nice shape.
I could get into the whole rant of cloistered music in the ivory tower etc. but MSM is doing a service to these kids by showing them the people who make sacrifices to follow the dream of playing the music they love. They are also offering these concerts for free which allows for the experimentation I want to keep my eye on.
Having your own new music ensemble is a business venture but it rarely supports its musicians on its own. Many of the performers also teach which can be one of the inevitabilities of a career in music but some are supplementing in other ways which is another reality to be exhibited. Some are playing on Broadway or have other jobs. In short, few of them are making music solely on their own terms. I hope that is something the students soak in as they get into the market themselves.
The music played was Wuorinen (Trombone Trio); Shapey (Movement of Varied Moments for Two); Tenney (Beast); Ades (Sonata da Caccia); Turnage (Two Baudelaire Songs); Lowenstern (Hum). There was also a special secret premiere of a new solo vocal work by Elliott Carter (also on Baudelaire) expertly sung by Lucy Shelton.