This has been a rather painful week. For the second time this year, a surgeon had to cut into my right eye. Knowing so many composer who were deaf or blind or suffered headaches, or tried to cut back the drink or worse, just went mad because of alcohol and/or syphilis, I think I humbly must thank the Muses that they still let me fill these blank pages more or less intact.
Being partially deprived of sight, it indeed sharpened a bit my senses. And my sense of going through a moderately bad patch concerning some upcoming projects. For the fourth time in a row, a fully composed project has to be postponed for which already a fine line up of contributors (stage director, film maker, singers and musicians) was contacted -all people who enthusiastically responded when we proposed the project-
After the disaster of the censure by the chief director of the opera ‘Cambio madre por moto’ Rosa Montero and I concocted for ‘el Opera Real de Madrid (divorce is apparently still anathema in Catholic Spain when one is a living composer), the absence of a lead singer for the ‘carbon fixation’ project, the postponing of the first performance of Sonata 1B in Athena, now vzw hardscore received a njet of the Gensche Festspiele to present this summer the first performances of ‘Double takes’… This begins really to hurt. A bit. We refuse to let us hurt more than a bit.
I promised myself never to use this blog as kind of weeping corner, nor shan’t I complain, moan nor bitch. As Machteld Timmermans, the equally hit stage director of two of the aforementioned projects told me yesterday: these events offer a window for the mind to reconsider the landscape in which we project our endeavors.
And of course, not everything is lost. In two weeks, the cello concerto ‘Tumbleweeds Concerto’ will be played by Symphony Orchestra Flanders, conducted by Jan Latham-Koenig. Even three times: in Brussels, Bruges and Ghent -a really fine line up, with the dedicatee and commissioner of the piece, Ghent born Tom Landschoot, currently living and teaching in Phoenix Arizona, as the main protagonist.
He arrives from the States on 15th February and both he and I are looking forward to give this challenging new work a nice first hearing. I hope to talk a bit more about our collaboration in a future blog post. Closer to the performance a short film introducing this rather this uncommon concerto will be posted on the site of the orchestra…
Meanwhile I’m thinking hard how to proceed. A couple of new pieces are scheduled. Ben Haemhouts of Cascophil asked me to collaborate wiith the poet and performer Maud Vanhauwaert. The festival Voorwaarts Maart nears (3 March in the Bijloke), this time curated by three ex-students of mine. And then of course the new sonata project proposed by Roland Peelman.
Most of all I’m musing about how classical music written today, might engender a kind of longing which one definitely for other musical genres. I have nothing against the contemplational character of average classical concert attendance. Deep listening is too one of the greatest pleasure in my life, allow me to to say ‘educated’ listening, because I’m always going to a concert with a mind well primed for the event. And Indeed one doesn’t move one’s body and arms like one cannot NOT do in front of the DJ on a late, very late Thursday night 🙂
Why has lost classical music when new are pieces programmed the longing or mere curiosity of a large chunk audience? Why don’t we see as much younger people than in other similar events like dance or theatre? The price of a ticket certainly plays a role. Or is contemporary music, often steeped in modernism or just the contrary, an overtly contrived nod to past passions or sentiments, really for too many people so out of the Zeitgeist. The almost total absence of the ‘classical composer’ in the mainstream media might suggest this. Though at the same time, and this I experience every year at the entrance examinations for the composition course at the School of Arts Ghent, never before so many young mind show eagerness for what happened the last 1000 years in music….
But is there not a way to make a classical concert as much an adventure as it is -and often rightfully- perceived in, to name only one example, DJ steered events? Fame is more than ever it seems the only indicator of greatness… One single glance at the history of art shows this is a big misconception.
I don’t want to be a bore. Nor a pessimist. I presume I’m not. So I shut up and will try nothing less than revolutionize music my next piece for Australia 🙂 I will not be seeking popularity. I’ll only try to genuinely thrill those who do the effort to attend the up coming concerts hosted by our little organization. Not brandishing a closed fist, though a well trained hand with the nimble fingers of a pianist 🙂