Contemporary Classical, Academic, New Music?

What sort of music do you write? This is probably the first question that a composer of contemporary classical or in fact any composer hears today. The difference between a composer of x and a musician that performs any genre of popular music is that the latter’s niche is often clearly defined. Because that’s how they get an audience. Composers, probably because of their solipsism, have not thought about this for centuries, so today we have this dilemma. So what sort of music do you write?

If you say you’re a classical composer, one suddenly thinks of Mozart, Beethoven, and assumes you must write sonatas, menuets, and symphonies. If you say you’re a contemporary classical composer, one questions how you can be both classical and contemporary – isn’t that an oxymoron? Once you say you write contemporary music, you suddenly end up in this strange world of ‘adult contemporary’ which sounds like a genre of erotic novels, with formats like ‘hot adult contemporary’ and ‘soft adult contemporary’. Do we, as composers, really want to share the word with that?

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An End of Publicly Funded Art is an End of the Arts?

In light of a looming end of publicly funded art, it is important for artists and curators to think more seriously about legitimate alternatives to public funding. Public funding of the arts in the UK came into existence in 1948 with John Maynard Keynes’ establishment of the Arts Council, there was no policy driven or comprehensive public funding of the arts (or anything else, pretty much) before that. Now we can ask a question, were there no arts before? I am quite sure any person can answer this with a definite ‘no’, and in fact we can still say that the greatest art in history probably came before 1948.

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