Thoughts on Attending a New-Music Festival

I’ve attended new-music festivals both as participant and as spectator, and I talk to a lot of composers at them. The composer who isn’t included in the festival sits there thinking, “How did that composer get invited to perform? Who did you have to know to get on this festival? What’s this doing for his career? Why isn’t my music ever taken seriously enough?” The composer who’s on the festival sits there thinking, “I knew I wouldn’t get enough rehearsal. They put that composer in a hotel much closer to the performance space than the one they put me in, why does he rate? My piece is on at a rotten time, no one will hear it, everyone will be out to dinner. That person’s piece got more applause than mine because it’s so superficially trendy. The performance was terrible, no one really got an idea of how good my piece is.”

The latter composer tends to complain more loudly, but the difference between the two experiences is considerably smaller than the former imagines.

(Posted from the Pittsburgh airport after a nine-hour flight from Berlin – now that’s a serious blogger.)