But What Does It Sound Like?

Typical unhelpful new-music program note, American Uptown style: Gordon Trustfund-Protégé studied at Harvard, Curtis, and Columbia with Elliott Carter, Roger Sessions, Gunther Schuller, Iannis Xenakis, Mario Davidovsky, Charles Wuorinen, Luciano Berio, Richard Wernick, George Crumb, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Ned Rorem, and Milton Babbitt. His music has been played by the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Symphony, Los Angeles Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Seattle Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Nevada Symphony, Des Moines Symphony, … [Read more...]

Pass the Cake

Well, today’s the day - the one-year anniversary of my blog going public. When Doug McLennan asked me to do this, I promised myself to give it a big push for a year, and as this is my 187th entry (the software keeps track), I’ve averaged about a blog entry every other day. Whether I can continue at that rate I don’t know, and I’m not going to make any more promises. Of course, I also went to New York to work for the Village Voice in November of 1986 and told myself, “All right, I’ll keep this job for three years” - and I’m still there, sort of. … [Read more...]

The Ranks Swell

Patrick Grant Internet Radio is now live and online at Live365, playing the music of... well, of Patrick Grant. Very interesting New York composer, kind of an Indonesian-gamelan-influenced postminimalist, or that’s how I tend to think of him. … [Read more...]


While reading, I was listening to the American Mavericks' "smooth" station on internet radio. Then the music stopped, and didn't come back on. I looked at the playlist window and found that they were playing Cage's 4'33". So I stopped reading and listened to the hum of the refrigerator, the creaking of my recliner, the drip of the air conditioner. I reconnected to my environment. What a great thing Cage did for us! … [Read more...]

All Postclassical Radio, All the Time

I’m slow on the uptake when it comes to technology, but I’ve learned more about Iridian Radio, the station I enthused about a couple of days ago. It’s one of the independent digital stations at Live365.com, which offers you the opportunity, for a monthly fee (though it’s cheaper by the year), to set up a playlist and broadcast your own music selection. Iridian Radio is the audio domain of Robin Cox, a violinist, composer, and director of a new-music ensemble in Southern California. He includes his ensemble’s recordings on his intelligently … [Read more...]

Separate Worlds

Thinking about Anne’s article, referred to (not "referenced," which isn't a word) below: I guess what I took most from the Critics Conversation was that music critics and composers have come to live in much more disjunct worlds than I had realized. I sit around with the composers I know and talk about how the big thing today is that minimalism has opened up this new space which allows for new, less European formal ideas, and for exploration of all kinds of tempo complexity, much more audible and meaningful than the old kind - and they nod their … [Read more...]

Astutely Noted

My colleague Anne Midgette writes in the Times today about Arts Journal’s Critics Conversation we participated in. And she is kind and careful enough to state my views, and those of others, I thought, with accuracy and nuance. My favorite line: “the future of new music and the future of classical music may not be the same thing at all.” Bingo! … [Read more...]

Voice Address No Longer Current

I visited the Village Voice offices today for the first time since the spring, and found a lot of good stuff waiting for me. Perhaps this would be a good forum in which to inform musicians and organizations that I only visit my mailbox at the Voice about twice a year (I'm writing for them less than once a month these days). If you want to send me a press release or CD, e-mail me at kgann@earthlink.net, and I'll send you a current address. It's a shame seeing Federal Express packages five months old. … [Read more...]

Died and Went to FM Heaven

I'm listening to the radio station of my dreams. It's on the internet, and it's called Iridian Radio. I swear it sounds like they're going though my CD collection. They sent me the link this morning and I turned it on and immediately recognized Paul Dresher's Channels Passing. I left it on and was startled by my friend Eve Beglarian's voice suddenly coming through my computer in her piece Landscaping for Privacy. I heard Pamela Z before I tuned out, then came back tonight for David Lang's Cheating, Lying, Stealing and a chance to hear the Tin … [Read more...]

Plus ça change…

Old, conservative, self-indulgent rationale for ignoring new music, ca. 1954: ”I can’t stand the new music, it’s too dissonant and just not nearly as great as Romantic music.” New, hip, egalitarian rationale for ignoring new music, ca. 2004: ”I can’t stand the new music, it’s too consonant and just not nearly as great as pop music.” In the world of music criticism, this passes for... Progress! … [Read more...]

Completion of an Earlier Thought

When I was a student at Oberlin, my composition teacher Randolph Coleman used to say that from now on, composers would bloom a lot later than they used to, in their 50s or 60s. He felt that there were so many competing influences on a composer’s musical style that it would take a couple more decades to assimilate them and find your own voice than it used to when everyone grew up in a culture with one dominant kind of music. At the time, this sort of went over my head, and to the extent I grasped it, it was a depressing pronouncement for a … [Read more...]

Our Classical Bedtime Stories

I write a lot of program notes these days - my work as a classical music annotator is replacing my work as a critic, strangely enough. And in the vast repetitiveness of what people say about classical music, you realize that the lives of the Great Composers are myths, bedtime stories that we tell ourselves to stabilize a certain sanitized, comfortingly simple view of the world. Nadazhda von Meck's cutting off of patronage to Tchaikovsky in 1890 was one of the crushing blows of his life. Beethoven's letter to the "Immortal Beloved" brought about … [Read more...]