Saturday, December 24, 2005

A "Shout-out" for New-ish music

On Feb. 1st of the new year, I'm supposed to have learned Pozzi Escot's new-ish Clarinet Concerto. Actually, as of that day, I'm supposed to perform the piece in Boston. I should have it learned and ready to go several weeks before that so I can rehearse the piece properly. Here's the thing: it's got a range from F#3 to about C#7. Yup, that's right, I'm threatening to bring out a mouse on stage and squeeze the poor bastard for those high notes. He'll have an easier time hitting those notes than I will. Several of these notes are extraordinarily -soft- as well. Guess that's what practice time is for. Oh, and the piece is about 5 minutes long...Not exactly a Sequenza-like undertaking.

Why is the piece new-ish and not new? Well, it's about a year old and was performed once. I took a look at the score and decided that it was a fantastic piece. It's short and beautiful and I should play it. Composers are almost always keen on people playing their music...Ms. Escot was no different.

The piece deserves to be played more than once. So often, we folks in the new music business give the first performance of the piece only to have the poor thing disappear afterwards. Why? I believe it's because we're frequently more occupied with our own importance as performers than the music. Imagine music performers are just as uppity and self-important as old music performers. Some people like to be known as that guy who's constantly giving premiers. That means that, as a performer, you're having to slog through a lot of really awful music. I like the warm fuzzies that come from promoting the growth of the repertoire, but I'm also tired of presenting awful music just because it's new. We're abusing the audience's trust by filling programs with second rate crap. Of course, this only encourages composers to produce new music on a time table rather than take their time to write a piece good enough for multiple performances.

So, performers: Dig through your library and pick out those pieces that deserve to be played again. Find those composers whose pieces you dug at a concert and get a copy. I've made it a point recently to ask composers for pieces that I either dug or heard from trusted sources that I'll dig. As a result, I've got a couple of .pdf files of pieces sitting in my email-box.

Oh yeah...Sometimes they'll just say "Why don't a write a piece for you?" Yeah...Why not?

Crap, now I've got to find a program for all of these deserving pieces. I knew I was in trouble the moment I started trying to think.


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