Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Getting settled in
We are really spoiled here: great people, great place, great music, great food.
The last few days have been full of our scheduled musical activities. Performers have been putting in many hours rehearsing the new pieces by the participant composers. Each work is prepared in a series of five rehearsals, each of which lasts an hour and a half. Composers have been holding music sharing sessions each morning, giving each composer thirty minutes to play recordings and talk about their music. This allows us to get to know each other’s work, and it generates lots of conversation. Some of us have even been sharing our scores with each other. These presentations often bring up issues that many of us face in composing our music; for instance, the integration of classical and nonclassical styles, the notation of rhythmically complex music, the meanings of dynamic markings, and the creation of effective musical structures. It’s nice to spend time with lots of other composers and know that we’re not alone! And the level of musicianship is astronomical at the festival this year. At each session, and at the rehearsals I have visited (including the ones for my own piece), I have been continually blown away!
On Tuesday night, guest composer Stephen Hartke gave a presentation on his music, playing a wide variety of his works and discussing each of them. He spoke about the idea of informed intuition, meaning that you gather knowledge about music that allows your intuitive decisions to be shaped by good examples. It was inspiring to see how this concept appears in his works, which draw on a wide variety of influences, yet sound unique and spontaneous. His works manage to evoke everything from ancient ruins to creaking bedsprings, plus the music is beautiful and fascinating on a purely sonic level. It’s a tremendous privilege to have Dr. Hartke in our company this week.
The food has been continually delicious. We’re also enjoying our gorgeous surroundings, with views of the lake, mountains, and hillsides. The gardens in the back yard are full of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. This incredibly luxurious, relaxing environment is very conducive to good conversations and exchanges of ideas. We’re learning so much about music just through getting to know each other. Our participants come from many of the world’s outstanding musical institutions and communities, so we each have unique experience to share. I’m continually impressed with the wisdom, knowledge, talent, and humor of the people we have here.