Excerpted for Commercial Appeal

But only slightly excerpted.

The good news: "New Classical Music" is alive and kicking in places one associates perhaps more with other kinds of culture. In this case, Memphis.

The bad news: They seem to be not quite sure what it is, or what to do with it.

All in all, it's a good thing, yes? Yes.

Let's try not to reinforce any stereotypes while we're at it. Yes? No?


Luna Nova Ensemble focuses on new music, Mark Jordan, Memphis Commercial Appeal

Perhaps the name of the newspaper should have been fair warning?

Everyone knows the "three Bs" of classical music -- Bach, Beethoven and Brahms -- as well as Mozart and maybe a few others.

I don't know. I can't think of any other composers. Well, maybe a few... And if everyone knows them, is it necessary to explicate them?

But what about Stolz, Brandon and Patterson?

I assume these are featured composers on the concert in question, and not a quiz. That's cool; I'm all for exposure for hyper-obscure composers.

Even fans of classical music might be surprised to learn that not all classical music is so classic, that there are artists still producing original works for orchestra and chamber ensembles today.


Even fans of classical music might be surprised to learn that not all classical music is so classic,...

I don't know what that means. Some of it is bad? obscure? contemporary? Let's go with contemporary...

...that there are artists still producing original works for orchestra and chamber ensembles today.

Even "fans" of classical music might be surprised to learn...that there are...living composers? Really?

The mission of Memphis' Luna Nova New Music Ensemble is to seek out and present such pieces for modern audiences.

Okay. Good. I favor such endeavors...

The group will kick off its fourth concert season Tuesday with a free show at the Hernando Public Library.

I thought libraries were supposed to be quiet.

The animal-themed program...


...will feature performances from clarinetist Nobuko Igarashi, horn player Robert Patterson and bassoonist Jennifer Rhodes, all members of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.


They will perform "Mozart's Dream" by Christopher Bailey, "Three Haiku for Clarinet and Bassoon" by Nolan Stolz, "Chansons de la Nature pour la Clarinette" by Jenni Brandon and Patterson's "the Cat Menagerie."

You can tell the last piece is particularly avant-garde because the composer is too cool to capitalize the "the" in the title.

Or the copy editor is dead. One or the other.

"People hear new music and think, 'Oh, that must be awful, but actually our audiences really like our music because there's a lot of music being written today that's listenable," said Patterson,...

First: the implication is that there is--obviously--a lot of music being written today that is not listenable, whatever that means.

Second: The "people" think really long run-on sentences that don't make a lot of sense. Or: the copy editor is dead.

Third: Way to reinforce the "new music is awful" meme. Good work!

...said Patterson, who debuted his seven-part piece last spring at a benefit for the House of Mews feline rescue in Memphis. "My piece is about these six cats that I owned, and it's very funny. At least I think its funny."

Usually I see lots of "it's" that don't need the apostrophe thrown about; here, in a stunning reversal--much like listenable new music--the apostrophe is missing from the contraction. But not in the previous sentence, in parallel construction.


For Patterson, a Ph.D. in composition...

It's good to see living composers, eh? (Too bad about the editors, though.) I guess you can make a living as a contemp...

...who works days as a computer programmer...


...groups like Luna Nova are a vital resource, not just as a creative outlet for him but as a jolt in the arm of the classical world.

A resource...for a jolt?

Figure 1: How do I get it in my arm?

"It's the way to save the art form," he said. "I'm very much a populist composer. It doesn't mean I think we have to pander ... but I think we can find other ways to reach audiences."

Other ways than...what? Other ways like...what?

What? Jolt?

Also, I like that we "don't have to pander" as long as we make sure the music is accessible, or "populist." I wish "populist" meant what it used to mean.

Figure 2: Mary E. Lease (1853-1933): The means of production must belong to the worker, and so forth.

Patterson is a 15-year veteran of the MSO whose works have been performed in South Africa, Norway and Spain.

While interesting, this sentence does not, in my estimation, merit its own paragraph.

"One of the most played contemporary composers in the country is John Adams. I happened to randomly meet his neighbor one time, and she told me he was constantly complaining to her that no one would do his music. So all composers feel like their music should be played more than it is.

First: This quotation never ends, as the quotation marks are never closed. Which is philosophically fascinating. And bad copy.

Second: This anecdote (of sample size = 1) shows that John Adams speaks for all composers according to this one time when someone met his alleged neighbor. This, therefore, is a fact worthy of inclusion in a "news paper."

Igarashi, the MSO's bass clarinetist, said the group allows her to branch out as a player.

Another interesting supporting fact; another questionable stand-alone sentence-paragraph. But that's trivial...

Tuesday's concert is part of the Hernando library's Cultural Arts Series funded by the Elizabeth Entrikin Cooke fund.

Erm. See above.

"I like having things that are not the usual fare," said head librarian Heather Lawson, who manages the series.

Me, too. I also like not reinforcing the imaginary assumption that people hate new music.

"One of the great thing about this particular concert is you learn to appreciate the individual instruments and the beauty of those instruments that a lot of times tend to get lost in the orchestra."

This interesting sentiment (by a non-musician) would be a great angle to pursue, perhaps, to generate interest in the concert series. Alternately, it could be left dangling at the end of the article.

I sincerely hope the concert series is successful. I also sincerely hope the copy editor is found and resuscitated.


Gustav said...

That Mary E. Lease looks she's a sport. I bet she's from Scarsdale.

Empiricus said...

1. My neighbor--hold on to your heart strings--is writing a song for his wife on the occasion of their anniversary. But he's having a little trouble putting it together. So naturally, knowing that I'm a musician, he asked me for some help, to which I responded: "Is your dominant seventh supposed to be ironic or pastiche?"

2. Cats ARE funny. And listenable! The Cat Menagerie

AnthonyS said...

Wait, the cat piece is about his six cats, but its (see what I did there?) in seven parts? What is the seventh part about? Some kind of meta-feline musical commentary?

Sator Arepo said...

Gustav: I still don't get it.

Anthonys: It's probably a rounding error--significant digits and all that.

Gustav said...

I bet AnthonyS could finish the joke. He's a real "goer", he said to him knowingly.

Sator Arepo said...

Nudge nudge, wink wink? Is that what we're on about here?

Gustav said...

Say no more. Say no more.