Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy December Birthdays!

Happy birthday to Julia Wolfe, Elliott Carter (wow... 103!!!!), and Jennifer Higdon!

Julia Wolfe: Tell Me Everything

Elliott Carter: A Mirror on Which to Dwell

Jennifer Higdon: Violin Concerto No. 1 (1st movement)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from Alphabet Soup!

Whatever you're celebrating, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season. We will be taking a brief blogging break and will be back in January. Even though this clip has nothing to do with the holidays, or new music, it's musical and fun (and sorry about having to watch an ad first... this is the best quality video we could find). Enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Introducing our New Music Ensembles list!

Several months ago (partly inspired by feelings documented in Natalie's recent post about the New York music scene bubble) we began a project of trying to create a comprehensive list of American new music ensembles by state. This was a much larger project than we thought it would be, mainly because we realized that there are actually tons of new music ensembles out there of all shapes and sizes: large, small, established, unestablished, run by composers, run by performers, etc. (yay!).

Here's where we'd like your help. We have dedicated a page of our blog to listing these new music ensembles, festivals, and concert series by state, or at least the ones of which we are currently aware. Please check it out here. This will be an ongoing project, much like our Frugal Composer page, and we would certainly appreciate any additions that you can think of. Our goal is to someday have a comprehensive list of American new music ensembles. For now, it's a reminder that there are great new music ensembles all over the country and the national new music scene continues to grow!

Please don't hesitate to send us any information you have. The page that's up right now is very much a work-in-progress, so check it out (again, here) and if you see things to add, please send us an email or leave a comment!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Art Versus Entertainment

In the new music world we hear lots of chatter about how things are constantly improving in terms of musical open-mindedness. Generally, I think this is true, which is a wonderfully positive thing. To take the oft-cited example, as students we usually don’t feel forced to write in a specific style the way many of our teachers once did. Unfortunately, though, academia is academia and the art-music world is the art-music world, which tends to mean that many prejudices still remain.

One of the most common elitist statements that I hear on a regular basis is an insistent delineation between “art” music and “entertainment” music. This distinction persists, despite the rampant amount of crossover music, the skill and artistry that may go into a Broadway show (not to mention the lack of craft that can sometimes be apparent in a new music piece…), etc. I guess what I’m trying to say is that good music is good music and just because something is labeled as falling more into the “entertainment” category shouldn’t preclude it from being called “art.” Likewise, music labeled as “art” can still be entertaining.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why New Music? A Performer Speaks

Please give a warm welcome to Alphabet Soup’s first guest blogger, saxophonist Jack Kinsey. Please see below for his bio!

Hello everyone. First off, I would like to thank Sarah and Natalie for inviting me to write for their blog. I am a performer, and have gotten to see new music from a different angle than their backgrounds as composers generally allow, so hopefully I will be able to add some new perspectives on new music, what it is, how it’s generated, etc.

For starters, I am going to ask a very simple question with a very complex answer: Why new music? Performers get asked this a lot (especially by their families. A few weeks ago my grandmother asked me when I was going to start playing music people like. Sorry Gram, don’t hold your breath on that one).