” Silver ? », Ethics and maintaining a creative life

Since 2015, New music gathering took an original approach to conferences by establishing a gathering of music creators. I remember hearing about the first NMG, which was held in San Francisco. I wanted to go but couldn’t, and immediately felt a deep sense of missing something. To follow the conference, I read a recap on NewMusicBox and I saw a picture of people sitting in two concentric circles. Supposedly, composers and performers were expected and encouraged introduce themselves and deliciously imagine new collaborative projects. “Is this the composer’s Speed ​​Dating?” ” I thought. “Dang, this is clever. “As I read more, I realized that I had also missed a performance by Claire Chase and an appearance by Terry Riley himself.


Therefore, I decided to attend every NMG, starting with the Baltimore conference in 2016. Over the years, NMG’s mosaic of round tables, spontaneous hangs [1], and therapy rooms dotted with inspiring musical performances created a charming and nourishing safe space without the too early introductions and stale pastries. In other words, this is not your typical conference. Instead, this performance-driven new music festival eliminates siled science panels and encourages educational presentations and discussions. Additionally, those who have attended NMG in the past are filled with warm affirmations of community and belonging. (This is atypical in academic conferences.)

Composers Talk About Their Cats: A Special Session at the New Music Gathering 2017. Theisen, Higdon, Layton, Jolley and Candey discuss the need for feline companionship in the creative process – Photo courtesy of Alan Theisen

This year, with co-presenters Forum of American Composers and New Music USA, New Music Gathering’s hybrid conference / festival will take place in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota August 12-14 and online August 12-18. I’m grateful for this hybrid platform as it expands the reach of the community and makes it viable for those who can’t attend in person this year (like me). The conference is free with registration for all participants.

Over the years, the NMG has highlighted and discussed relevant topics in the field of music creators. They explored the communities. They encouraged us to support each other. They wanted to make musical opportunities more accessible. But this year, they tackle the subject of “money?” (Yes, the question mark is intentionally left there.)

This theme may seem a bit off-brand, especially in the wake of the turmoil of the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the climate crisis. However, the NMG team has been thinking about this for some time. “Last year, when the nuts and bolts of sustaining a creative life were particularly difficult for so many people in our communities, we wanted to explicitly bring these concerns and mechanisms to the fore in our conversations and concerts,” said Lainie Fefferman, one of the co-organizers of NMG. “By making money?” The theme, we invite people to be open, vulnerable and generous with their experiences, questions, fears and advice on how to make music while respecting the rent.

Co-organizers of the New Music Gathering Angélica Negrón, Daniel Felsenfeld, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Lainie Fefferman and Jascha Narveson

Co-organizers of the New Music Gathering Angélica Negrón, Daniel Felsenfeld, Mary Kouyoumdjian, Lainie Fefferman and Jascha Narveson

But in accordance with their mission statement, the organizers reflect on the societal issues that bind us. This year’s keynote speaker is Garrett mcqueen, known for being a bassoonist, media producer and tireless advocate for the diversification of classical music. It further contextualizes this year’s theme: “For creators, money is often the means. For donors, money is also a means, but a means of what? I see it as the responsibility of today’s creators to reverse the power dynamic that sustains the philanthropic industrial complex.

NMG’s headliners follow the call to challenge power structures, blur musical boundaries and put on a good show.

Queen drea, a 2017 American Composers Forum Minnesota Emerging Composer Award recipient, is a singer, performance artist and soundscape whose pieces are often conceived under the auspices of improvisation settings. She has created work on depression in the black community, the loss of lives of black men in America, and an Afro-futuristic operetta. Black bellies about two sisters who lost their parents in the revolutionary war against white supremacy.

Reine drea - picture of david glasgow, dlg images

Reine Drea – Photo by David Glasgow, DLG Images

“I investigated some thoughts on Black Love and how it is strong enough to resist denial. Acknowledge how we came to this country and how our families were separated in the name of capitalism is the reason we are apart now Recognize the pain of this reality Recognize the beauty of this reality Recognize Black Love in its many forms and express that love through my art.

to summarize is a percussion quartet from a new generation of musicians dedicated to music reflecting the diverse society we live in today. Arlene Acevedo, Alexis Carter, Tiahna Sterling and Aline Vasquez, four musicians from Rahway, NJ, have been friends since elementary school. As recent alumni of Mantra Youth Percussion, they formed Recap through “music, friendship and the desire to share their stories”.

Recap - Photo courtesy of Mantra Percussion

Recap – Photo courtesy of Mantra Percussion

For the duo Turn jewelry into water, Haitian-born drummer, DJ, educator and electronic music artist Val Jeanty and India-born drummer, composer and educator Ravish Momin make music that comes out of the deep reservoir of their respective cultural experiences and goes against assumptions. dominant in world music.

Ravish writes: “The music I write for TJIW is a mixture of pre-arranged melodic elements and live improvisation. Using Ableton to write my parts allows me to create non-linear arrangements of songs, where sections can be called up at will. For our live participation, I’m usually hooked up to tempo mappings and generating / layering percussion parts, while Val, who isn’t tied to the same grid, is free to manipulate samples and add rhythms. This tension between being “on the grid” and being able to play freely gives TJIW its special sound, live improvised dance music that honors our ancestors. Val adds that they are “exploiting the esoteric creative realms.”

Turning Jewelry Into Water - Photo by Ed Marshall

Turning Jewelry Into Water – Photo by Ed Marshall

In addition to the headliners, the programming of participants in the NMG 2021 revolves around the theme “Money? While simultaneously addressing sub-themes such as race, diversity, sustainability and ethics. Some events include a performance of pain. acceptance. resistance. silver? by Morgan Schoonover, Clara (Da) Yang and Rachel Mangold; “Live coding as an anti-capitalist musical creation” by James Parker; “Always learn: what the pandemic can teach us” from Golden Hornet; “The LD Musician: How to Cope with Learning Disabilities in Music” by Evan Tucker; “The Radical Music Therapist: Music Therapy, Mutual Aid and Social Justice” by Dorian Wallace; and “Unpacking the Art / Money Binary” by Kirin McElwain, among others.

In the spirit of this collaborative meeting and the theme “Money? “, The organizers of NMG wish share their current and scalable budget spreadsheet for the festival. They hope to start the conversation and their conference by breaking down taboos around discussing money and encouraging more substantive and collaborative creative communities to do so, too.

New Music Gathering still provides a much needed collective space to help stimulate and uplift music creators to do what they do best – create contemporary art, challenge themselves, and grow as artists. In addition, they seek different perspectives and new interpretations, thus celebrating diverse ideas and processes. If you’re new to the gathering, take advantage! Sure, you’ll want to witness everything, but you’ll also meet new creatives who will catch up with you on the details. Your goal as a participant is to come together with others and be inspired.

[1] At the 2017 NMG in Bowling Green, Ohio, a few songwriter friends and I spontaneously talked about our cats, and Jennifer Higdon suggested I get a buddy for my orange tabby, Mr. Julius. I took his advice.

I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorial independent program of the American Composers Forum, funded by generous donor and institutional support. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF.

A gift to ACF helps support the work of ICIYL. To learn more about ACF, visit “At ACF” section or composateursforum.org.

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