Looks Like It's Time to Bring Fluxus Back

Normally I steer clear of student newspapers (for reasons that I think are obvious). However, occasionally an issue arises that’s too interesting to pass up.

An American classical music fest

(Bogdan Fedeles, The Tech (the MIT Paper)

[excerpted from a very long review]

MITWE demonstrates Ives


…[T]he MITWE [MIT Wind Ensemble-ed.] concert featured several full-ensemble openers and a collection of three works by Charles Ives.

I don’t know what a “full-ensemble opener” is, but I think I need one. It's freaking hard to get the lid off of those things!

The first piece in the program, Frank Ticheli’s “Postcard”…

…turned out to be excessively contemporary and aimless.


Figure 1: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

So. Two things, I guess.

First: No. That’s silly.

It’s mildly adventurous by (what are pretty conservative) concert band repertoire standards (which is not a knock on it at all).

It sort of sounds like Bernstein (Leonard, not Elmer).

Figure 2: This guy...

Figure 3: ...not this guy.

It has some chewy harmonies and playful rhythmic oddities (and lots of cymbal roll-accented arrival points). Five bucks says it has a key signature.

It’s only excessively contemporary in the way that, say, the Long Playing Record is a new-fangled contrivance.

Second, and more importantly (and more interestingly): What is an acceptable level of contemporary-ness?

No more than ten percent avant-garde content? (By weight or volume?)

Subtle hints of modernism on the finish?

Culturally enforced faux-bohemian bourgeois-friendly middlebrow PBS fodder?


Oh...sorry. I was, uh, thinking about something else for a second.

Because, I mean, one expects a little of that sort of thing from, you know, these artiste types, but syncopated clarinets...that's just uncalled for! Good heavens!

Figure 4: Nam June Paik being excessively contemporary in 1963.

Okay, so you didn't really like the Ticheli. Fair enough, fair enough.

Anything else about that?

Its main redeeming quality was its succinctness.

Yeah. Gonna go ahead and let that one go, since it's in the middle of a 2200 word review.

The performance sounded uncomfortable, but it successfully pushed through the overly-ambitious rhythmic profile of the piece.

Well, good then. As long as it pushed through the profile, everything’s going to be okay.


Figure 5: The happy burbling syncopated clarinets were a little too edgy.

Aah, got you!

April Fools!

That actually totally made sense.


Danny said...

Wouldn't the real meaning of "excessively contemporary" be "the composer hasn't finished writing it yet"?

Sator Arepo said...

That's more cogent than anything I came up with, Danny.