Yesterday I spoke on a panel about the state of contemporary music, hosted by a great new organization, Ear to Mind. Ear to Mind, led by Meg Wilhoite and Inhyun Kim, is a group devoted to the interface between contemporary music and the other arts, with an eye to which artworks will last into the future. The panel had a fantastic range of composers, and the discussion covered issues of a composer’s identity, what aspects of contemporary music mark it as especially ‘contemporary’, and what led the composers on to the panel to become musicians. I was surprised to hear how many composers, myself among them, had their formative musical experiences singing in choirs. That led to some interesting comments about the special place that the voice, and language itself, have in our music.
The panel was hosted by my old friend Lainie Fefferman at the Exapno new music community center. The space is usually committed to providing a quiet writing and rehearsal space to its members, but occasionally hosts some really fascinating events, including yesterday’s discussion. (Full disclosure: I’m on the newly-formed board of Exapno).