Your First Chance To Stalk Me
12 Apr 2011
Inside the Classics

I just wanted to piggyback on Sam’s detailed post about my whereabouts this coming week. I think he hit all the high points, except that I’ll be staying in Saint Paul, so if you want to see what kind of Breakfast Sandwich I order, that’s the place to do it. Being from New York, I’m a serious believer in taking advantage of our bipedalism; I like to walk around a new city as much as possible when I visit, to “learn” it. So if you see me walking alone, somewhere in the Twin Cities, feel free to join me for a stroll and a chat.

Two things to say, here. First, I am so excited to hear the Minnesota Orchestra, live, for the first time this week! I’ve been thinking, as I start to write, about the “personality” of the orchestra. I tend to find that composers are the worst connoisseurs of performers; our ears naturally emphasizes the structure of the work we’re hearing, the notes and the rhythms and the architecture, more than the surface elements of the performance — at least consciously. That’s not to say that we don’t care about great performances, but that we’re hardwired to hear the piece more than the performance. Audiences, for the most part, hear pieces through performances, which is a very important thing for composers to remember, as we write.

But the orchestra is unlike anything else, and the way that an orchestra has a personality is unlike that way for any other musical ensemble. I’m going to do my best, this Thursday, to listen for the personality of the orchestra, to hear the collection of players as one big instrument, and to not think so hard about the pieces themselves (though I do like James MacMillan’s music, and am excited to hear his new concerto — I mean, um, to hear the orchestra perform his new concerto! There we go). Either way, it’s auspicious timing, as I’m really starting to get into this piece, to see what it’s about, and to make some big decisions. I’ll write more about that soon.

But everyone, also — you have to come to this String Theory Music Festival! Kate has done an unbelievable job of programming and it’s going to be one of these weekends-to-remember. The last time I felt like this was when a bunch of us flew out to Seattle for this insane festival that was co-curated by the critics Alex Ross and Kyle Gann, and a dozen or more composers were all poking our noses into the cracks and crevices of the city, seeing what was what. This one has a different vibe, of course, not just because the Twin Cities and Seattle are very different places, but also because it’s not just us composers, but also great performers from the classical and non-classical worlds. That’s exciting and it’s the Future and it’s going to be fun. So don’t just stalk me, stalk Nadia and Missy and Bill, and Owen and Nat and the JACK people and everyone else. It can be like Stalkfest 2011.

See you then!

<February 2020>

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