Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sometimes Opening the Inbox is a Good Thing Indeed

Yesterday's email had two good pieces of news: two totally unexpected commissions presenting very different challenges. The first is for an excellent chamber ensemble, flute, clarinet, guitar and percussion, with musicians I trust to do almost anything and do it well. It includes at least one orchestration challenge (for me, the guitar) but I do have a blessedly long time to write the piece. The other is for a large recorder orchestra, perhaps forty players, with instruments ranging from sopranino down to sub-contrabass. Yep, I had to sleep on that one before accepting it, but it does have some interesting potentials and problems (i.e. not making it sound like organ registration or calliopes or, well, a recorder orchestra) and moreover offers a chance to connect to musicians outside of the narrow new music world.

In Pynchon's Against the Day, the phrase "access and agency" jumped out at me; he uses it to describe the opportunities and adventures available to a group of young visitors to the Chicago Fair of 1893 with its admixture of the real and the imaginary. When I'm about to compose a piece, I know that I'm actually ready when I have assembled my own little fairground, with enough exhibits of interest and uncertainty to afford a similar access and agency. So two commissions like these, offering said access and agency, and not without a bit of musical risk, are a very welcome thing, indeed.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

Congrats. They both sound like fun ensembles to write for, and writing for a definite set of musicians (or writing a play for a specific set of actors) has led to some great art.

And boy, "Against the Day" just keeps deepening for me since finishing the thing last year. Being surrounded by Tibetan protestors in San Francisco may have something to do with it.