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February 2013
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Don’t Miss This Party

Pianist, Conductor and Curator Marino Formenti

Composer Marcos Balter

Listen to Ensemble dal Niente Conductor Michael Lewanski:

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According to composer Marcos Balter:

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Last week, WFMT presented “The Party,” based on a six-hour contemporary music concert presented by Chicago’s award-winning Ensemble Dal Niente with Italian pianist, conductor and curator Marino
Formenti.

The presenters filled the Logan Square Auditorium with sofas, comfy chairs and lots of mood lighting. Participants were encouraged to listen to the music how they wanted; be it sitting, standing, walking around or lying down. It was a fun experiment in concertizing and listening. Besides the food pairings and lighting, however, what was just as unusual about this concert was the fact that the audience could interact with many of the composers (no, they’re not dead). The composers touched on a couple of themes:

1) Don’t come with any expectations

2) Give yourself permission not to like something

Brazilian-born Chicago composer Marcos Balter urges people to listen to new music without any preconceptions. Conductor Michael Lewanski suggested there’s “no wrong reaction to a piece of music.” He urges audience members to engage with composers and musicians, and to be honest with performers.

2005 Pulitzer Prize winning composer Steven Stucky excels at convincing skeptical audiences that listening to new music can be deeply satisfying and enriching. In a keynote address to Florida State University’s New Music Festival, he offered similar advice: “give yourself permission to dislike what you hear.”

But Steven Stucky’s advice comes with one caveat:

“…please — don’t explain your dislike by claiming that ‘it isn’t music.’ History is strewn with rash talk about what is and isn’t music: even Beethoven was regularly declared an antimusical lunatic by critics hearing his radical new symphonies for the first time. The boundaries of music have been expanding for centuries, and, inexorably, they will continue to widen. But since Mahler, Bartók, and Shostakovich have already become accessible (at least to our beloved 4% market share), perhaps someday soon the composers whose music we are about to hear will be too. We owe it to ourselves to hope for – no, to work for that day.”

Read all of Steven Stucky’s address, called “Listening to Contemporary Music.”

Listen to the broadcast:
The Party

Play

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