WORMHOLE TO MEXICO
3 sneak previews of recordings that are in the works in collaboration with Festival International Camerata XXI (FICXXI):
Background: Sheer Pluck Guitar Orchestra & Ebb & Flow Arts, along with CUNY & Rice University
have built a wormhole to Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico and FICXXI. In Xalapa, composers Emil Awad and José Saldaña have created cultural mecca in the beautiful mountainious subtropical rain forest,in and around Xalapa, in the shadow of Pico de Orizaba.
The interactions through the wormhole are an artistic theater that is beyond blood and soil. Awad & Saldana are insulated from trends in the USA, and this creates a focus on a different time scale. Time and distance fosters a different constellation of values than what we see in the furious careerism and cults of personality that come & go in New York City. And there are sympathetic souls in the US-- Robert Pollock, who runs Ebb & Flow Arts in Maui, has performed in Xalapa twice, and helped produce the recording of Awad's Fouad, setting up a recording session in Haiku, Maui last August.
The works by Awad & Saldana are syncretistic. Fouad combines Awad's intimate knowledge of the guitar, particularly flamenco idioms, with his unique tonal language. Saldana began as a jazz guitarist. Each has a unique harmonic language, but bridges through flamenco & jazz to more public musics.
Robert Pollock's Metaphor bears some memories of his contact with & great respect for late Dutch composer Peter Schat. Metaphor is tone clock piece. Peter Schat parsed the 20th harmonic universe through his notion of the tone clock. The concept's power is seen in how it inspired Pollock and focused his approach to harmony. The tone clock is a kind of international musical coin here.
Naturally, concepts and techniques might bring composers together, but the music must speak beyond the composers and their bags of tricks. The non-composer is listening for je ne sais quoi--as when, in the midst of the Tanglwood bloodbath, Leon Fleisher asked what he's looking for, Ozawa replied, "tabasco sauce". Internationalism in music does not have to be overly esoteric. To the extent that it is esoteric and clubby, Ross & Taruskin's impatience with modernism is understandable.
Durable (Cultural) Goods
Reality TV, Beyoncé (love her to pieces) McDonald's--ephemera
The International Style was promoted after the war to redirect the energies of fascist nations *away from* blood & soil.
Alex Ross & Taruskin were concerned about the long term ills associated with Int'l Style, and I agree; nevertheless. I am terribly proud of my associations with Cold War music--
Babbitt's Soli e Duetinni was composed in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall came down.
As a composer I am working, along with an army of colleagues, on. 21st C syncretisms that remember and embrace 20th C. innovations, while being in significant ways, very 21st C. It is very exciting. I think of it as "post-Maximalism", and the most important feature of this music is that it can be accessible, it's certainly not proudly inaccessible, which was true of some of our Cold War heroes.
My latest effort:
Examining music over great distances (transatlantic, transpacific, transalpine, etc.) and over considerable time spans, a relatively more durable complex of values emerges--a more durable good, hopefully.
Rather than "cultural snow" (Murakami)--glaciers, preferably mountains.
I ask Ross & Taruskin, & Oestreich and others who have access to a bully pulpit to be a bit less dismissive of the Cold War music, and give some consideration to the post-maximalists who are working quietly, pretty much *anonymously* on transforming the dinosaur Cold War dynamics into elegantly soaring birds of flight.