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“Here though, the artifice of only having three minutes meant I had to talk to the next person no matter who they are.
That really helps.” In his own work, Charney said relationships are incredibly important.
In the often fragmented and specialized sphere of new music, relationships are everything. Musicians talk about ensembles they’re playing with and extended, avant-garde techniques they enjoy. But as Frederickson promised, just three minutes later participants are told time is up thanks to a piano in the corner playing a musical cue that sounds like it might signal an oncoming train in a 1920s silent film.
And these composers and performers are here to see if they might be able to make those connections through an exercise that might seem better suited for the singles’ bar than contemporary classical music. Composers pull out scores or give the musician earbuds to listen to a recording of a piece and then wait patiently as they study the musicians’ expressions for any hint of affirmation or displeasure. The musicians then move one chair to their left, and the process starts all over again.
But if you make a situation where you say, ‘Everyone is on the same playing field.
Nobody really knows anyone here, and your job is to talk.’ Then people are more open to these conversations,” Frederickson said.
As a composer himself, he sympathizes with composers or performers (who are often introverts) being asked to convey who they are artistically to a stranger in only three minutes. “A lot of times people will ask me, ‘What's your music like?
“It seems like people are eager to talk about themselves and talk about their work, but they just need that moment to do it in the right environment.
They need that push.” Historically composers have had a pretty good idea what instruments they were writing for even if they didn’t have a particular ensemble lined up to premiere their work.
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