Contemporary Classical music is a strange, strange beast: no one really seems to be sure what it is, what it looks like, what it sounds like, or where it hides when nobody’s looking. But I think the best way I can explain it is this: it is music that doesn’t quite fit any of the other categories (jazz, pop, rock, world music…) and is typically played on classical instruments.
What that means is that audiences, performers and concert supporters rarely know exactly what they’re signing up for when they ask “new music” composers (such as myself) to do anything. You could wind up with something really lovely – beautiful, tonal music reminiscent of Mozart; perhaps some rock inspired grooves for electric guitar and string quartet; or an angry, wailing, screeching duo inspired by alien voices for triangle and toy flute.
In any case, I was thrilled when PCM contacted me a few months ago to put together a program of contemporary music for their “Songs about Place” series. It seemed like such a perfect fit for contemporary music – many of my colleagues and friends writing music are local to Los Angeles, and so often we turn to extramusical sources for inspiration. I didn’t have to look hard to find some wonderful music that referred to specific places. An added perk of programming so many local composers was that we were able to have them in attendance, to talk about and introduce their own works.
We had a wonderful event. Fabulous performers (many of them faculty at PCM), a great, friendly and engaged audience, and a lovely atmosphere in which to listen to and share new music. It was an exciting and truly fun event to be a part of. I think Pasadena is really lucky to have a resource like PCM in our midst – my humblest thanks to the school for their support in bringing everyone together for this concert.