This defense of contemporary music by visual artist Curt Barnes on Susan Scheid’s Prufrock’s Dilemma blog is so accurately stated that it jarred even me back into consciousness of things I tend to forget:
[A]s citizens of the 21st century, now, we need to acknowledge the truism that the art (read: music) of the past is to some degree artifact. Its force as art has been softened with age, and unconsciously or not we condescend to its conventions, its narrower world, to fully enjoy it. It coddles us with the safe haven of its familiar forms. Art, living art, has the capacity to be terrifying, disturbing, iconoclastic, risky, and if you find something of value by a living composer it can connect with you with unequalled vitality. If it lacks certifiable genius, it provides something else: it is formed of the rudiments of the here and now, it is yours as Beethoven is not, can never be.
The whole post is well worth not only reading, but saving for your students and friends who too easily dismiss new music.