Friday, July 16, 2010

What Composers Talk About

I'll bet that if you ran a new-music series and gave composers the following choice - "We'll either give you a $500 honorarium, or you can have $100 and talk about yourself to the audience for 20 minutes" - almost all composers who aren't in dire financial straits would choose the latter option. When the subject is ourselves, we do not like to shut up. I was on a panel of composers last night preceding the Cutting Edge series concert at Symphony Space, and the desire to chatter on was palpable. William Bolcom was the grand old man of the group, and seemed accustomed to occupying a stage by himself; we all deferred to him and let him talk most. Two of the other composers had, in fact, been students of his. Composer Victoria Bond, who runs the series, has clearly been in the moderation business a long time. She cut off each composer as graciously as though he had come to the end of a prepared text.

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