Thursday, November 19, 2009

People often ask me if I am a composer. After that wonderful Shapey concert I realized that instrumentalists are not encouraged to think beyond the technical difficulties of their instruments or, if they are, it is in terms of theoretical analyses that cannot possibly "grab" an audience's attention.

Effective performers are those who inhabit the sensibility of the composer by musically living through all the references they can find in the composition to the experience of the living, breathing creative intelligence who wrote the piece. Snatches of popular music, of technical studies, of standard repertoire; references to other genres, even the use of single pitches in splendidly inventive ways (like Ursula Mamlok using the orchestra's tuning A as a joke in her oboe concerto, recently recorded by Heinz Holliger on Bridge)--all such devices grab our attention, catch us unawares, awaken us to new experience even of familiar music.

Such moments exist in all Western music; the performers job is to seek them out.