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Your mom’s events are sprawling and uneven

from Friday, February10th of the year2012.

I’m in a rental-house in Santa Fe which I am not renting; it’s been very generously given to me, and therefore, I am in a constant state of amazed gratitude. This house is huge, and huge in a way that confounds the body. My normal ritual is to hold open the fridge door with my foot while pouring half and half into my coffee; this little gesture is physically impossible because all the requisite objects are 20 feet away from one another. In New York, if I forgot to plug my phone in, it’s a matter of wiggling my thorax towards the edge of the bed and making it happen; here, it’s the business of climbing four stairs and running across a giant formal bedroom.

I swear to god if one more person emails me this idiotic Justin Davidsdóttir non-contest thing I am gonna fly to wherever it is that you are at and eat your liver with capers and gherkins and shit. Can we be real for a minute? The entire premise of this operation — and, I would add, much of what Snuggles has been up to in the past few years — is reductionist & dangerous. Check it out: emphasis mine.

Getting a handle on what’s happening in contemporary classical music is harder than it seems. Composers inhabit an artistic habitat that’s both globalized and fragmented. Some become known only in tiny enclaves scattered all over the world; others have sizzling reputations that stop at the Gowanus Canal. New York has a vigorous new music concert scene — the Ecstatic Music Festival has just gotten under way at the Kaufman Center, and it runs until March 24 — but its events are often too sprawling and uneven, or else too tiny and uneven, for a clear picture to form. Small-label recordings have proliferated, but it can be easy to miss the lone six-minute gem tucked in among an hour of middling harp music.

Now, I’m not even going to link to it because I’m so mad, but essentially, it’s two problems here. The first is: what clear picture were you hoping for, honey? We’re still alive, us composers, and are working and living and breathing, and making a taxonomic “picture” is not our responsibility or goal. It’s not even technically yours, but that’s the second point — all of this is just JD’s socially awkward penance for having written a bunch of reductive things (to which I’m not linking) about young composers a few years ago not having enough to rebel against (?) and now he doesn’t know what’s “going on,” surprise surprise. All that ish popped up again last week when he wrote a snotbags thing about Philip and got all the new music trolls out of the woodwork on somebody else’s Facebook feed. So while the intentions might not be evil per se, he’s trying to do that thing where you pump cement into an anthill: yes, you see the complicated architecture of what’s going on, but you kill the ants. I’m totally over it and I beg all of you to please not participate. Nothing good will come of it. In fact, I’m already partially regretting blogging about it but I got One More Email about it and thought I would explode right here, in the Land of Enchantment. To make up for letting anger get the best of me, I am going to read more about domestic desert fathers and I urge you all to do the same. I like the Cellarer’s pages with scriptural analysis. Also their picassa page is intense.

ALSO what harp music is he talking about that sounds awesome. An hour of middling harp music sounds precisely like what I need at this time. I’ve been listening to that Adès violin concerto Concentric Paths and am freaking out with how beautiful and great and smart and twisted and wonderful it is. I have to go to the airport, and I took a bath before bed while listening to that Adès, and something weird happened and now my hair is laid like that amazing picture they took of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed right after his capture?

I had dinner last night with a friend from high school whom I haven’t seen in about thirteen years. There is a very specific emotion attendant to such a reunion and I’m not sure what it is. There’s the obvious melancholy of one having once been much younger and looking slightly less like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and all the shaded, now-dulled distant romance of high school plus the idea that adults are somehow more connected by shared experiences than would otherwise be expected? His life after college was incredibly scattered — making my own life seem linear and prescribed (in an almost Davidsonian way!) in comparison. We’re talking studying economics but working in emergency rescue management, rock-climbing and Native American health data? Talk about non-concentric paths.


  • “but its events are often too sprawling and uneven, or else too tiny and uneven”

    This event’s too big! This event’s too small! This event is juuuuust riiiiiight. Why doesn’t he just forget about the size and say the events are uneven? (In size? In quality? In variety of style? In instrumentation?)

    New music reportage has become rather annoying of late…

  • I’m still trying to recover from the ugliness of ‘gotten underway’…

  • I would really like to suggest that you check out Carles & Sofia. They are truly amazing and it’ll give you a break from the constant posting of the other subject..

    Carles Lama and Sofia Cabruja are two of the greatest pianists in the world.
    They have been Carles & Sofia – Piano Duo
    playing together for more than 25 years!
    This has let them become what some people describe as “Four Hands-One Feeling”.
    Founders of “Concerts4Good- Music on a Mission”, they bring a message to the world thru the music they play.

    “Concerts4Good – Music on a Mission”
    Carles and Sofia, two virtuoso pianists from Spain, have long been one of Europe’s most outstanding piano duos. Since 1987, the two musicians have filled concert halls, brought audiences to tears, and achieved critical acclaim for their moving repertoire. Now, they are dedicated to advancing classical music through concerts, festivals, television projects, lectures, and other events, while also promoting humanitarian needs and social issues at every turn. For this, Carles and Sofia were awarded an honorary distinction on behalf of UNICEF.

    Now, Carles and Sofia are continuing this combination of a love of music and a love for humanity through Concerts4Good: Music on a Mission. It’s your chance to be part of the Phenomena too! We are actively looking for Sponsors and bookings in your area. If you’d like to be part of the sensation… check it out, sign up for our newsletter, and pass this on.

  • Yasss! I love the Adés Violin Concerto. Strangely enough, it was actually one of the first modern violin concertos that I was exposed to during my early High School days. It scared the shit out of me, but now I just love it 2 death.

  • Well I will check the Ades out but I never have that big a fan of his stuff. Well crafted but strangely it sounds a little too much like another composer. So far listening to the Ades Violin Concerto and I will say it is one of the best things I have heard from him from what I know of his stuff – but man I already hear a bit of Ligeti, touches of Neilsen in the first 2 minutes – and man Ades loves his sequences! Anyway, thanks for the recommendation of the Ades.

  • Hi Nico, just heard you are coming to Sydney for the Vivid festival. Don’t know much detail except something about a new piece. Can’t wait to see you! Regards, Johnny.

  • That has been contested by some the author. He lacks rudimentary attainments in his field.