in: News & Features

September 21, 2017

Uniting the New-Music Community

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Orlando Cela and masked performer in Music in Motion

Juventas New Music’s BNMF (Boston New Music Festival), which takes place September 23rd through October 1st, introduces Boston’s thriving new-music scene to the public in a week of concerts, masterclasses, and networking. Through the event-filled week, audience members can engage directly with 21st-century composers and music. Join them for an exchange of ideas at the daylong symposium at MIT on Sunday, September 24th (more here).

I love new music. I love working with composers to develop a piece, iron out the kinks as we workshop and rehearse, and hear the creator’s voice in the inspiration and interpretation of a work. I love the ability to find out exactly what is most important to the composer and what is secondary, and to help composers realize their vision in the best possible performance of the music. I love working with musicians who are passionate about new music. All of these individuals thrive on a challenge, enjoy puzzling out something difficult and unusual, and are fearless in the face of revolutionary expectations and the extremes of musical and technical possibilities. These are musicians who always dig deep into the score and think thoroughly about the architecture, musicians who are so fierce about our art form that they are willing to go through immense challenges in order to ensure the present and future of classical music.

But I’ve sometimes encountered a giant rift among performers. Unfortunately, we are often fractured between conflicting stylistic and genre preferences. Each of us is so busy working through our small sliver of this field that we forget about the rest. New-opera people don’t know anything about contemporary chamber music, nontonalists hate on neoromantics, and no one knows quite what to do with collaborative works that cross genres.

Boston’s new-music scene is monumental. There are over 30 (!) professional organizations that have contemporary music as their mission. This is in addition to the academic departments and traditional classical organizations that regularly present new work. Yet even many of us who work in this field are unaware of the scope of this rich new-music culture. Groups of varying sizes, and opera and fusion organizations, barely interact, chamber groups operate in disjoint manner and rarely cross paths, and music departments are often islands unto themselves. This limited communication among new-music organizations has prevented us from embracing opportunities in expanding area exposure to contemporary music. It’s time to change this!

When Juventas New Music was formed, over 10 years ago, it was one of a small handful of new-music organizations in town. Today we are thrilled to join forces with fellow organizations and bring together the inaugural Boston New Music Festival. The festival features a large number of Boston groups and a daylong symposium with area new-music leaders. The performances range from a large-scale opera (the world premiere of Rev. 23 by composer Julian Wachner and librettist Cerise Jacobs) to chamber concerts (Juventas, Boston Music Viva, Boston New Music Initiative, OpenSound, Transient Canvas, Dirty Paloma, and Times Two), with featured artists that include world-class flutist Claire Chase and exceptional local soloists like Orlando Cela, Amy Advocat, Matt Sharrock, and Aliana de la Guardia.

We hope that the symposium in particular will serve as a catalyst for the exchange of ideas. I, for one, cannot wait to meet more of Boston’s composers and gain new programming thoughts and suggestions from creators and fellow leaders. I also hope that this event will start local ensembles on an avenue toward sharing resources, marketing and other, and building Boston’s overall new-music community, including audience. An additional goal is that the experience of exposure and conversation will open all of us up to new styles and possible collaborations.

Boston’s new-music scene is prospering at an exhilarating rate. It is time to join forces and take advantage of these exciting developments, placing Boston on the map as a leader in new work. Please join me for performances Sept 23rd-Oct 1st, and our daylong symposium at MIT on Sunday Sept 24th.

Juventas New Music with composer Scott Barton and his robotic instruments (Barton will be on of the symposium panelists on new music and technology)

Russian-born symphonic and opera conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya serves as Artistic Director of Juventas New Music Ensemble and Music Director of Commonwealth Lyric Theater, Music Director Chicago Opera Theater, and Artistic Director of the Refugee Orchestra Project.

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