Recently I went to a concert of new classical works, presented by an organization that typically specializes in the 18th- and 19th-century European classics. The host of the evening discussed the context of the new works, presumably to win over the more reluctant of their series subscribers. His argument was along these lines: We can enjoy the great classic works of the past because they were heard in their time; people learned to love them when they were new, the works became well known, and they entered the standard repertoire. We need to program new works, regardless of if we like them or not, because this is how we create the classics of the future.

As much as I wish this were a sound argument, I think it is problematic. Read on ››

Some exciting news. I’ve received funding to develop a musical project that I have been planning for several years. It involves writing an evening-length piece for amplified instruments, to be performed in non-traditional venues such as nightclubs. This is a large-scale project that I will be working on over the remainder of the year. More information to be posted as the work progresses.

This is a discussion of the programming changes that CBC Radio adopted between 2007 and 2008. It looks at the unintended influence of the societal trend toward anti-intellectualism in the CBC’s programming decisions. I begin by examing the motives for the CBC’s changes, and why they might have adopted the attitudes that they did. I then explore the confusion between anti-elitism and anti-intellectualism, discuss the problems that these have caused for the CBC, and suggest an alternative approach.

I’ve updated the website with info on some upcoming performances.

Recently I read both Goethe’s and Marlowe’s Faust plays–the Faust legend has been a major influence on many generations of composers and authors. I found them exceedingly dull, except that the Marlowe made me think about changing English syntax in relation to the other germanic languages. And in the case of Goethe, I was curious about the psychology that would lead someone to torment over this story for one’s entire career.

What they made me realize though, is that ideas of the value and endurance of art are tied to our world views. Read on ››