New Music 2016 is partly a New Year’s resolution, and partly an experiment to see what can be discovered in the course of a year. In my daily life as a new music performer I encounter new works regularly, and usually give around 30 or 40 premieres every year. There are many aspects of the learning process of these works that go undocumented, and often my own response to the music can change over time as I become more familiar with the works. I’ll be writing blog posts about some of the works and the challenges they present as I explore them, as well as posting links to new music I encounter via my Twitter and Facebook pages. The blog writing is inspired by my students at the Open College of the Arts, who write listening logs during their courses to document their musical discoveries. These logs are often fascinating, and I love seeing how exploring a wide range of repertoire helps my students to develop their own musical voices in their creative practice.
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However, my project goes beyond merely exploring newly composed works. There is a vast wealth of repertoire out there that is not played all that often, or that misses out on being fashionable for various reasons, and of course, we cannot even hope to play everything in our instrument’s repertoire. For this reason, my project encompasses music from any era which is new to me.
One of my teachers once told me that if you discovered something new, even if someone else had already discovered it, it was no less of a discovery in terms of your own individual growth. This is an important lesson for all of us, as it can sometimes be daunting to explore things that take us out of our comfort zone, feeling like we perhaps should have more knowledge in a particular area than we do, or that there’s a ‘correct response’ to new material that we should somehow already know about.
This seems particularly true in the realm of music, where it is impossible to know every single piece ever written. As musicians, we grow and learn all the time, by hearing something for the first time and then working towards gaining a better understanding of the music and the composer’s approach.
I’m excited about what music I might get to know in 2016, and I invite you to join me; write your own blog posts, and share repertoire discoveries you’ve made through listening, going to concerts, playing or performing using the #NewMusic2016 hashtag. Let’s see what amazing musical treasurers we can unearth together this year!