Yesterday, the good folks at NewMusicBox (the web magazine of the American Music Center) published a rather massive article of mine called “Composing a Life, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dollar.” It’s my plea to composers and the new music community (which is the world I come from) to get more actively involved in the conversations that affect the lives and careers of all artists. Along the way, I go into greater depth on the Pro-Am Revolution, turn a critical eye toward graduate music education, and consider the diversity problem in classical music’s shrinking audiences, sprinkling statistical nuggets and research findings throughout.
Here’s an excerpt:
What changed me the most [at business school] was the exposure to an endless panoply of other areas of human life beyond contemporary classical music. Sure, I learned about assets and liabilities and how to read a cash flow statement, but I also learned about the auction for 3G wireless ranges, competition between Target and Wal-Mart, why Turkey is an emerging power player in the Middle East, and how colleges and foundations manage their endowments. […]
In the course of this sudden immersion into what the rest of the world thinks about and does on a daily basis, I came to realize that my former existence had been focused like a laser on about 0.00001% of everything that matters. It was like the veil had been lifted on my life: the choices I faced when I voted in an election or needed to buy produce or searched for an apartment to rent or, yes, chose a graduate school had all been determined by somebody, or more often a collection of somebodies acting in somewhat predictable ways. It became clear to me that I was never going to have control over my own destiny unless I had the capacity to see and understand the external forces that were influencing my circumstances. And if that’s true for me, it’s true for you, too. So here are a couple of vignettes from my own journey into the belly of the capitalist beast, which I offer in the hopes of connecting my experiences (and perhaps some of yours) to the bigger picture. After all, we are just variations on a theme.
Read the rest over at NewMusicBox.