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Friday, December 26, 2008

Looking into the future

Ten reasons why I’m optimistic about music in 2009

1) We have a new Administration that I hope will be much more supportive of the arts.

2) There appears to be a renewed interest in Modernist music as exemplified this past year by wide-scale performances of works by Elliott Carter. Audiences have come around to appreciate this genre of music.

3) The commercial music industry has found a new model to apply, since revenue from CD sales and Internet downloads is declining quickly. The idea of presenting music live in concert has reemerged as a profitable venture. This will translate into more work for musicians of all sorts, including composers.

4) The current world-wide economic crisis will require a massive injection of government stimulus. This may potentially result in new and expanded Federal arts programs similar to what occurred with the WPA in the 1930’s.

5) As the number of people who are structurally unemployed increases, it will lead to more leisure time and a public desire to experience performances of new, innovative, and experimental music within their community. The arts in general will flourish as people seek a broad-based and affordable form of cultural entertainment.

6) With the change in American political leadership, negative feelings about the value of American culture on the international stage will be diminished. American composers will find renewed interest in their work internationally – including an increase in commissions and performances across the globe.

7) By “going green” it will be discovered that acoustic instruments are more energy efficient than electronic ones, and there will be a resurgence of musicians who perform exclusively on traditional instruments. String Quartets will replace DJs and programmed synthesizers as a way to conserve precious kilowatts and the environment.

8) Although composers may age physically, it is a profession that favors decades of experience and the accumulated wisdom of the long view of history. By consistently composing new pieces each year, my music will continue to make a statement and develop. The works that I plan compose in the coming year could potentially contribute to my personal artistic legacy.

9) 2009 may prove to be an inflection point in history, and if a cultural tsunami strikes, I feel well-positioned to take advantage of new opportunities and artistic challenges as they arise. My pencils are sharpened, and I’m ready to go.

10) It’s a new calendar year, which brings with it a fresh opportunity to submit my application to an assortment of composer-related foundations and organizations (e.g. Fromm at Foundation at Harvard, American Composers Orchestra, The Composer’s Conference at Wellesley, etc). I apply annually, and retain a glimmer of hope each year that it will yield a positive result. The new cycle of 2009 grant applications begins on January 1st.