This article is about the Women’s Music festival at Cal State Fullerton, but it made me think of some other issues as well.
At her performance, Pamela Z made one wonder all over why she is not better known to a broader audience. She is a mainstay on the new-music circuit; she arrived Friday having just finished touring Europe. Her performances use her sonorous voice and electronics.
How many performers or composers, male or female, that are “mainstay(s) on the new-music circuit” are at all well known to a broader audience? People are scared of stuff they don’t know, and that goes for music as well. A few weeks ago I overheard a Chicago Symphony usher practically have to talk a lady down from the edge because there was Hindemith on the program. Fortunately she survived the Hindemith, and the Brahms arrived as promised.
Next year, the festival has invited Meredith Monk, but the school’s vocal department, the panel announced, doesn’t want her giving workshops, lest she confuse the students. But it seems to me those few enthusiastic students who attended Pamela Z and Ethel weren’t confused at all. They knew a very good thing when they heard it.
So instead of exposing students to varied or extended techniques, they are “protecting” them from confusion. Do they have that little confidence in the intelligence of their students? How will anything new happen tomorrow, if the students of today are only exposed to the music of 2 centuries ago?