Friday, October 26, 2007

Hat's Off New York

New York Magazine has been writing profiles of "serious" music composers with a slant toward the popular side of the musical coin. Two of the most recent ones are Sufjan Stevens crossing over from pop and Nico Muhly (a Philip Glass' protege) While some could quip about this it doesn't change that fact that they are covering serious-go-to-a-concert-hall-sit-still-and-listen-intently music.

And who wouldn't want to hear music by these guys working in this exciting time of anything goes music for classical forces. Musicians are uniquely qualified to play more and more types of music than ever before with all of them having grown up with just about whatever they wanted to hear at their fingertips. There is no lack of composers who do many different styles of "serious" music coming at it from both sides.

There seems to be less of a sense of emulation at work in the music of younger composers. There is a great sense of craft in the music of Nico Muhly who I must shamelessly plug as being one of John Schaefer's selections for his New Sounds Live series at Merkin Concert Hall. Having to arrange music for a pop star on the fly is no easy task and many people who have done this in the past rarely were taken seriously. Having worked for Bjork (among others) must have been a rather expansive experience as her musical ideas are no less august works of a serious nature.

I'm so happy to see that music is still well on the move toward the center. I still admit my love for the thorny, intricate works of those who do it well but that's a bit further around the bend for many listeners. Let's have singing, dancing, spoken word, multi-media art performances that actually refer to our human condition today. This is how we get the really great older stuff in front of the crowd and we know there's plenty of that. The composers that New York will (hopefully) continue to profile are excellent jump-off points for bringing in future fans of the new thing. We didn't all think that onions were the best thing to eat when younger and uninitiated. Let the initiations begin!

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