Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays from Alphabet Soup!

In the spirit of the holidays we wanted to share a few links with our readers:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Depressing but Interesting Read

To PhD or not PhD, that is the question. This is a topic that we will certainly address in much greater detail at some point, but right now I want to share an article from The Economist on the topic (spoiler alert: the author's answer to my question seems to be "not to PhD" because it's a waste of time).

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Commissions Continued...

Sarah and I have often discussed the topic of commissions, so I am glad that she’s started the topic here.  I, too, am incredibly grateful to all the performers I have worked with.  Commissions are tricky to navigate and hopefully discussing it will help us to figure out how to create a working relationship that positively benefits both parties.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How Not to Scare Away Performers

Here's a question for the composer readers out there: what do you do when someone asks you to write a piece for them?  If you're anything like me, you probably jump at the chance to compose a piece that someone is actually offering to perform before you've even written it. It eliminates all the hassle of begging performers to play for you, finding rehearsal space and coordinating all the rehearsals, etc.  And you assume you'll get a fabulous performance, because if someone asks you to write a piece for them, it seems likely that they'd be really interested in performing the piece well.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Re: Composer Elitism

Reading Sarah's Post about giving listeners something to hold onto reminds me that Marin Alsop of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra often gives the pieces she's conducting, from Beethoven to John Adams, a little preamble, sometimes even having the orchestra play excerpts of motives, melodies, gestures, and ideas that the audience can listen for. I don't know how to measure how effective this is, but she has been programming more new things and people seem (from clapping, attendance, etc.) to be interested. My dad, as a non-musician, really loves these intros and he is always disappointed when they don't happen. As a composer, these preambles certainly are helpful to me, as well. Alsop also offers concerts that are billed as more of an educational experience with her Off the Cuff series. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Composer Elitism

In her last post, Natalie asked: 
How do we, as economic and cultural outsiders, reengage ourselves with society, while writing the kind of music that we are inspired to write?
I think one thing we can do is try to start engaging individually with audiences before trying to tackle society as a whole.  Now don’t be offended… but I’m going to address the age-old argument about composer elitism.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Composer Versus Culture...

So here’s a question: is the composer outside of mainstream culture and “misunderstood” because of the failings of culture itself, or does the composer set out to separate herself from culture, either purposefully or inadvertently buying into the “misunderstood,” “starving artist” ethos?