Friday, September 06, 2013

Iron Composer

Fellow music blogger David Wolfson will be one of the five composers participating in the Iron Composer competition that is being held at Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland. There's a concert this evening at 8:00 Cleveland time where the spoils of the competition will be performed and judged. Fortunately for those of us who do not live in Cleveland, the concert will be streamed through the WCLV 104.9 website.

It will be interesting to hear what the five composers who are given five hours to write a piece from scratch featuring a "secret ingredient" come up with.


Anonymous said...

I've tried to iron composers, but the creases just won't come out.

How interesting that the assemblage of competitors and judges are by and large of academia incarnate. This suggests gathering proof that academia is just the new aristocracy supporting new music's many Salieris.

David Wolfson said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Elaine. It was a fascinating process to be part of. And I'm never going to complain about a deadline again!

Elaine Fine said...

You should have heard the commentary, Anonymous! David's piece, which was excellent, caused them to spontaneously put in into a "tradition." I actually think that the faculty at BW uses it as a teaching tool for their students, and the radio station uses it as part of their fundraising drive.

Anonymous said...

Did read Wolfson's view. I've been to a ton of improvisations -- from classical organ recitals to jazz concerts -- where a "surprise" theme was offered. So the "tradition" is a lot older than this, isn't it? But "teaching tool for their students" falls right in line with my assertion that "academia is just the new aristocracy supporting new music's many Salieris." Not all music is equivalent, and I hope there is a new Mozart out there who won't be coaxed into becoming a Salieri or even an Iron Chef with its "new flavors." We have so many new flavors that I am unsure what "new" means after a century of "new." Antique music boxes are new. Silence is new. Rocks and pebbles are new. Hmm. BY the way, your old "Ash Grove" is lovely and new, though definitely not new. And it wouldn't be a fit for the Iron Composer, would it? BW could use more you and less five-hour competitions. So an oldie thinks.

Elaine Fine said...

The only problem with your theory is that academia, musical and humanitarian otherwise, does not have the money or the clout it once had. I'm glad you liked "The Ash Grove," and I agree that what I do would not be regarded as "new" by the gatekeepers in musical academia (at least not by the composition people), but it is possible to be new and original by reaching into the vast possibilities of music itself and not relying on superficial accessories, that can be donned and doffed to make one's presence acceptable in any given time or place. I would certainly be laughed off any sort of Iron Composer competition (and have been dismissed by many a "new music" adjudicator and academia participant), but I have to do what I do, because it's what comes out. I would never been accepted as a serious composing musician in the 17th, 18th, or 19th centuries unless I had money, a title, or personal connections, and even then, if history is an example, my position in society would have prevented me from doing actual work or performing, particularly if I were married to a man of "position." There are exceptions, I know, but it's more likely I would have not been one of them.

So, because of the limits posed on my gender in the past, I feel entitled to write any kind of music I like using any "antiquated" kind of harmonic material I choose. And the possibilities of tonal music are so vast, I doubt that I will ever exhaust them. The challenges are also really great. Besides, I really do only do this for my health.

Anonymous said...

"The only problem with your theory is that academia, musical and humanitarian otherwise, does not have the money or the clout it once had."

An interesting point, and thinking on it, one should then conclude that the pop/rap world with its enormous funds and with its attracting even academic study/advocacy is the future of music.

What is certain is that many other kinds of modern aristocrats have lost interest in supporting classical music, of kind you compose and I listen to and perform.

Indeed, I suspect we are living in an age of "new" classical music simply withering away. A new Mozart would probably have no chance at an Iron Composer competition as at a university as seeking support from the new elite of this world. So it seems, rather generally.