I Aggregate Myself

Snips and smatterings of my mind, two months now of reviews at the New York Classical Review, augmented at Sequenza21, having me feeling ambivalence and not a little angst about the business of classical music, the cycles of recordings, tours, concerts, debuts. I explore it some in my latest Diary of a Mad Composer, but there’s a much deeper, unsettled feeling I can’t quite discern and describe just yet.

The idea of sitting down and playing music that’s old in front of an audience is to revivify it physical with breath and muscle and mind and heart. It’s also to say something about it that makes the experience relevant. I believe that classical music is alive, not a set of objects in a museum, but that means there must be that sense of relevance in performance. And by relevance I mean that I want to hear that the musicians think that there are important things in the music other than “this will make my playing look good,” “or this is something that I need to play for my career.” Two months of concerts — ancient, old, modern, contemporary and brand new music — has been a mixed experience.


I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.