I saw this letter in the Arts section of the Globe yesterday and found it so pertinent to our discussions re: "new" music (as well as our discussions on our perceptions and definitions behind "art"), that I'm posting it for your viewing pleasure (and possible amusement).
Sorry if it appears a little long copied here, but it's just a few reasonable paragraphs and worth the read.
Hope you find it as entertaining as I did. The bolding is mine for emphasis.
BTW, the letter is in response to attending a classical concert, which, IMO, makes his commentary even more amusing.
New Music? No, thanks.
"I experienced an epiphany attending the Boston Symphony on Saturday, March 16 (“A delicately constructed cello concerto debuts at BSO,” Metro, March 16, Jeremy Eichler). I may never forget the anger I felt during the cello concerto commissioned and premiered by the BSO. If I hadn’t been trapped in mid-row, I would have left the auditorium.
If contemporary music like this is so popular and highly regarded, why doesn’t the BSO schedule a two-hour concert of this music? Answer: They would lose money.
Instead the work is slipped under the cover of Mozart and Saint-Saens. I am insulted that I’m forced to listen to “what’s good for me” like medicine I have to take for my health. I read the program notes (and the Boston Globe review) only to be reminded of catalogs for some contemporary art shows. At least there, one is free to move on to another room. The BSO should provide a half-hour presentation on a new piece before each concert. (And a post-concert discussion where the audience can ask questions?)
The piece itself was a half-hour. At times the noise from every imaginable percussion instrument was breathtaking. I heard and felt a ringing not unlike feedback from a mike.
Many times I thought the piece had ended, but no. When it did end there was silence, not from awe but of fear that one might applaud at the wrong time.
The applause was respectable, but how much was the audience congratulating themselves for having lived through it?
Only two patrons in my row applauded.
As for my epiphany? I have learned not to attend a concert where a newly commissioned piece is being performed. I honestly admit that it is my loss not to appreciate the music.
The composer has had a successful career and is highly regarded by soloists and conductors all over the world. But having listened to classical music starting on 78s while standing in a playpen, I wonder how many people would appreciate it. If this music is worth playing, my suggestion is to schedule it during Pops on the Esplanade so a larger audience can experience it. How about the Fourth during the fireworks?"
Any comments or thoughts?