"So what are you up to next month?" ....pause. blink. "I uhhh..." pause. blink.
Honestly, I hadn't thought much about next month. As March Music Moderne draws to a close, I finally have a moment to look back at what fun I had leading the charge with Classical Revolution PDX.
The fun started at the MMM Preview Party (which seems like eons ago) where I was ready to sink my teeth into the discussion about new music. After shamelessly rolling my eyes and cackling during a performance of John Cage's 4'33" I prodded my audience to consider the notion that music written in 1952 is no longer "new".
“Can we just stop talking about John Cage?” pleaded Classical Revolution PDX founder Mattie Kaiser. The violist was part of a mostly (with one exception) distinguished panel of performers, writers and composers discussing new music at March Music Moderne’s kickoff event. Kaiser, like me, wanted to talk about new music, and Cage’s most famous/notorious creation, the silent 4’33” was, she pointed out, sixty years old. Kaiser has a point...
My point of view intrigued fellow panelist James Bash, and the following week he featured me in Oregon Music News.
Last week at the March Music Moderne panel, I sat next to Mattie Kaiser, who ardently advocated for compositions that have been written in the past dozen years. Kaiser has been one of the most active players in Portland’s new music scene ever since she founded Classical Revolution PDX, but I didn’t know much about her. So I met her at Caffé D’arte in NE Portland to find out more...
--- I also was able to have a nice conversation with Robert McBride over at AllClassical FM - which I think he owed me, after gagging me when I started to go off about John Cage again...
On March 18th CRPDX held our second annual "Composed String Quartet Competition" (I dare you to rename it, please, somebody rename it.)
Another string quartet concert last week gazed even farther into the future. Like the Kronos and Parker shows, Classical Revolution PDX’s string quartet competition was part of March Music Moderne, but unlike them, it featured music grown right here in Oregon. Ten local composers submitted their work to a panel of judges — a pundit (moi), a player (FearNoMusic leader and violinist Paloma Griffin), and a professor (Portland State University composition faculty member and composer Bonnie Miksch) — who selected works by Daniel Hansen, Brandon Woody, and Paul Safar for honors; Hansen’s winning work will receive a professional recording by CRPDX’s string quartet, who, along with the dtq quartet, learned five new works and devoted eight hours of rehearsal to them. I enjoyed all of them.
Now in its second year, the admirable project (like similar but better funded efforts by FNM and Third Angle coming up this spring) represents a great gift to Oregon’s music community from CRPDX, whose founder, Mattie Kaiser, followed through on her complaint that MMM was too devoted to dead 20th century composers by investing considerable time and effort to seeding new works. I hope our other music institutions will take note of these projects, and similar ones by Portland Vocal Consort, Cascadia Composers and others and will start adding local sounds to their imported fare.
And last night with Graham Reynolds and the Blue Cranes... well, last night was fun. I was disappointed that I still had a fever and the dizzies, which is most of the reason I could only blink when asked questions about the future, but it was such a delight to see that I don't just talk the talk. I bust my butt to put together quality, fun, inventive classical programming. And it's not about what's new, old, cool, hip, art, pop... it's about what's good. As the guy at the gas station told me once, "good music is good music".
(more pictures, videos and reviews from 3/30 with Graham Reynolds coming soon!)