Gann Performances

I'm late mentioning this, but pianist Blair McMillan is performing some of my Private Dances this afternoon at Ensemble Green is performing my chamber piece New World Coming at the Renaissance Arts Academy (1880 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles) at 8 PM. Also on the program are works by Marc Lowenstein, Peter Knell, and Lou Harrison's Grand Duo for Violin and Percussion. Even more exciting, James Bagwell will conduct the … [Read more...]

Artistic Differences

One of the unexpected kicks of being at the Atlantic Center for the Arts is being here with artists from other disciplines and observing professional differences of behavior. My composers and I are here with poets, who are working with Marie Ponsot, and architects, working with Steve Badanes. The poets are mostly middle-aged women, and, as they themselves were the first to point out, all arrived wearing scarves, even the men - not thick, cold-weather scarves, but tasteful, decorative, muted-color, poetic scarves. The male architects are big, … [Read more...]

Unintended Consequences

Now that I'm out of my spider hole for a few weeks, I'm learning that the internet is killing my small-talk skills. If I launch into a story, "I ran into Bob Ashley the other day...," the answer is a quick, "Oh yeah, we read that on your blog." Last time I tell you guys anything interesting. … [Read more...]

Aesthetics Under the Palm Trees

I'm basking in the February sunlight of Florida's east coast as I write this, enjoying a free morning at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Joining me here as Associate Composers (a term that makes me uncomfortable as conjuring up the "associates" at Wal-Mart, though then I start wondering what it means to be an associate professor) are Michael Maguire, Carolyn Mallonée, Teresa Hron, Andrea La Rose, Maria Panayotova-Martin, Scott Unrein, Matt McBane, and Jim Altieri. It's a convivial and musically excellent group, and listening to each other's … [Read more...]

Waxing Octatonic

The Dessof Choir is performing my piece My father moved through dooms of love at Merkin Hall in New York on March 10. (Also on the program are works by James Bassi, Elliott Carter, my good friend William Duckworth, and Phillip Rhodes.) Preparatory to that, choir member (and fellow Oberlin grad) Jeff Lunden did an interview with me about the piece, which is up score page (click on "Choral"). The choir, under my good friend and Bard colleague James Bagwell, did a beautiful job at rehearsal last week, and I'm very excited about this premiere - in … [Read more...]

So Click, Already

On most issues on which I am not intransigently stubborn, I tend to be astonishingly suggestible. Someone told me this week that the essence of good web site design was that people should not have to scroll down - that, instead, information should be heirarchically arranged on nested pages, because people would rather click than scroll. OK. So I completely revamped … [Read more...]

The Postclassical Catch-22, Caught in the Act

Canadian composer and guitarist Tim Brady told me about the European music entrepreneur who came up after one of his concerts and said, "I love listening to your music, it makes me feel so happy." Later the entrepreneur organized a music festival, and explained to Tim why he didn't include him: "After all, this is a serious music festival." … [Read more...]

So Long, Suckers

Jazziz gives its critics' top ten jazz album lists in the current January/February issue, and look who made Sam Prestianni's list, down there between Mingus and Jason Moran: Ornette Coleman: Sound Grammar (Phrase Text/Sound Grammar?) Gato Libre: Strange Village (Muzak) Ralph Towner: Time Line (ECM) Kayhan Kalhor / Erdal Erzincan: The Wind (ECM) Max Nagl: Quartier du Faisan (hatOLOGY) Liberty Ellman: Ophiuchus Butterfly (Pi) Dominic Duval String Quartet: Mountain Air (CIMP) Charles Mingus: At UCLA 1965 (Mingus Music) Kyle Gann: Nude Rolling … [Read more...]

Keynote Address for the Canadian New Music Network

From Hits to Niches When I was asked to come up for this conference on "New Music and the Media," I tried for weeks to think what new music and the media could possibly have to do with each other aside from both being eight letter phrases in which the second word begins with M. But then I talked to Tim Brady, who made me realize that my thinking had been very pre-9/11, as they say, and that I had been limiting the media to what we now universally refer to as the MSM, or the "mainstream media," which of course doesn't cover new music to any … [Read more...]

Surreptitiously in the Mirror

Gratifyingly overheard in the dining room of the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg, where I've come to give the keynote address for the Winnipeg Symphony's Canadian New Music Network conference: "Kyle Gann's a good choice. He's in touch with the younger generation, and doesn't just talk about the same old famous composers." UPDATE: I should maybe point out that the object of advertising this wasn't just to make you think I'm cool, but to suggest that a lot of people are tired of talking about "the same old famous composers." … [Read more...]

Setting the Stage

I've just finished the second keynote address I've ever written, and I think it's the most difficult genre of writing I've run across. It's easy to show up for a panel and present your personal point of view, needle some people, be a provocateur. It's easy to do some research and write a purely objective encyclopedia article or lightly-spun program note. But a keynote address can be neither personal nor merely factual. It has to anticipate and express the collective concerns without taking sides, frame any possible argument among your audience … [Read more...]

Close, but No Cigar

I was fearful that the Atlantic Center for the Arts, where I am headed in a couple of weeks, and of which so many artists hold fond memories, might have been in the path of the tornado that ripped through Florida last week. I kept imagining the composer's cottage blown into the Atlantic. But I have been reassured that it missed them by a few blocks. I land in Daytona Beach airport during the Daytona 500 and leave during Canadian colleges' spring break, and it sounds like I will meet chaos enough. … [Read more...]