Friday, September 3, 2010

Avant-Garde in the Library?

The last couple of times I’ve been to the public library, I’ve noticed that there are meetings and art shows in the adjoining side rooms. It occurred to me that it might be possible to give a concert in there too, as long as the music is not loud enough to disturb the patrons in the main part of the building. I asked about it. The librarian mentioned that it might be possible, as long as the concert was free and open to anyone. She gave me a form to fill out.

Performing in such a concert would not be for commercial purposes anyway, but for the promotion of one or more genres of music. I’m reminded of the Shakespeare in the Park series of plays – those were begun (so I’ve heard) because actors in theater groups were tired of the boring “classical” old-fogy image that Shakespeare had, and they wanted to shed that baggage. Avant-garde music could be another example – but with a difference. It doesn’t have a boring “classical” old-fogy image to shake off. It doesn’t have any image at all. To a lot of people, it simply doesn’t exist.

Case in point: after hearing some excerpts from the StormSound Cycle at a concert I did with Stuart Dempster, Mary Kantor, Neal Meyer, and Dean Moore a couple of years ago, someone described my music as “very different”. I’ve heard the same comment about Takemitsu, Phill Niblock, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. But different from what? To me, my music is rather ordinary, and I wish I could be as inventive as those other three that I just mentioned. It only sounded “different” because it was unfamiliar. To someone who’s never had sushi, an ebi-roll is certainly “different”.

So I play at open mikes, and I’ll see if I can do some concerts at the libraries. I’ve already got a couple of others interested. I’ll keep anyone reading this posted on what the library staff decides about doing the concerts, and when and where they will be. In the meantime, I’m going to a Seattle Composers’ Salon concert this evening, and I’ll ask some there if they’d like to join in (I’ll review that concert on this blog too…).

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