Recent concerts

I’ve been meaning to add a post here about some interesting concerts I’ve attended. The only problem is I’m not really a music critic, and have absolutely zero desire to become one, so anything I write is likely to come off as golly-gee-whiz fanboy stuff. I’ll try to avoid that if I can.

To begin with, Indiana State University held it’s annual Contemporary Music Festival about a month ago (and here I am just writing about it now!). The guest composer was David Baker from Indiana University. (And I’ll take a moment to point out here that Indiana University and Indiana State University are not the same institution at all. You probably already knew that, but I’ve run into enough confusion on that point that I always feel like I need to clarify.)

The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra performed the final concert of the festival, and featured Baker’s Concertino for Cellular Phone and Orchestra. Seriously, a concerto for cell phone! OK, the whole thing was a silly gimmick, but it was fun. There was also audience participation; at points in the score, the audience was invited to activate the ring tone on their own cell phone. (I had mine with me, but I declined to participate because I still don’t know how to make it work beyond making and receiving calls. Really, that’s all I care about!) It was fun and silly, but I thought it was kind of unfortunate that this was the only orchestral work of Baker’s that was included on the festival, because it really isn’t representative of his work.

I thought of a great response in case anyone told me I should write a cell phone concerto. I kept waiting for someone to say it so I could use my reply. Sadly, no one did, so my reply must remain unuttered!

The ICO also played the third movement of my Second Symphony, which they commissioned from me back in 2001. I liked hearing it again, but I wish they had chosen to do the second movement instead, as I suggested, since it just seems to stand better on its own than the third.

Last week, I drove over to DePauw University to hear the Bang On A Can All-Stars. I’ve known about them for years but had never heard them before. I am now a big fan. I enjoy music that blurs boundaries as theirs does. Are they a rock band, or a Contemporary Music Ensemble, or both, or neither? I don’t really care what you call them, but I came away from the concert invigorated and confident in the future of art music (or concert music or whatever you want to call it). Groups like them, along with eighth blackbird, Kronos, and others, seem to be creating a new genre entirely, combining the sensibility of popular music with the seriousness of high art. Who knows where this will all lead? I can’t wait to find out.

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