Wednesday, November 15, 2006

In response

One of the best things that has happened since this page started is that a series of younger composers have shared their work with me. As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing better than opening your email in the morning and, out-of-the-blue, finding a new score to read through and learning the name of a new colleague. It's an authentic sign of intelligent life in the universe, and (Ives knows) these are all-too-rare.

Some of the composers have asked me for comments or criticism, and I've done my best to take that request seriously. While I'll admit to be flattered by being asked for my opinion, and (misanthrope that I am) enjoy the sense of community and continuity that this implies, I think that it usually suggests something even more about the character of these young musicians, and that is that maybe they like and value music more than they like the apparatus that has grown around it. After all, I have little concrete to offer them in terms of their professional lives: I have no institutional connections, don't teach, don't sit on juries or grant committees, don't write reviews, and don't produce concerts or recordings. All I can offer is a word or two about their music, and the fact that they're willing to enter into an open dialogue about their music is something to be optimistic about.

If I have any model in doing this, I think that it may be the artist Robert Irwin, who, at one point, gave up his studio, and began to describe his work as being "in response". In response to individuals and situations. Or to John Cage, who made a point of keeping his phone number listed in the directory and answering the phone himself. My mailbox is open, and I look forward to whatever comes next.

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