What is your reaction, when there is "new music" or a "world premiere" on the program for a symphony orchestra, chamber or recital program?
Over the weekend I took part in a program that involved a new violin concerto, "Orchard in Fog" by Adam Schoenberg, played by Anne Akiko Meyers, who had commissioned the piece. The reaction among both the musicians and the audience was quite positive, and the piece received immediate standing ovations at both performances.
A warm reception for a new work certainly is not a given. In fact, it's more like a surprise, when it happens. I heard comments like, "I usually can't stand new music, but I'm enjoying this one!" Even "I dread it when there is a new piece on the program, but this one is growing on me."
Why is the default attitude "brace yourself, it's one of those 'modern pieces'...." ? Is it just a natural reaction to something new? Or is it a product of the 20th century, when composers -- and the academic institutions that trained them -- perhaps got a little carried away, "challenging audiences"? Are some composers now swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction, returning to a kind of expression that is more widely relatable?
This season the Los Angeles Philharmonic commissioned 100 new works for its 100th anniversary season, which has meant that nearly every concert has featured the premiere of a new work. Did audiences flock to concerts to hear the new works? Did they come in spite of them? Did they come in larger or lesser numbers? I don't know the answer.
What is your reaction, when you see that a new work is on the program? Are you excited to hear it or play it? Or do you brace yourself for something unpleasant? Is your feeling somewhere in the middle, keeping an open mind, but a little bit on guard? Please participate in the vote, and then in the comments, share your thoughts on why you feel the way you do. How have your experiences with new music shaped your feelings about it? What is your best experience with new music? Your worst? Do you enjoy experimental and atonal music? What makes for a "good" new composition, in terms of the balance of innovation and familiarity?
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