Brett Campbell is senior editor at Oregon ArtsWatch, a frequent contributor to SFCV and many other publications, and coauthor, with Bill Alves, of Lou Harrison: American Musical Maverick (Indiana University Press 2017).
Balancing the comfortable and familiar with the new and challenging — that’s the toughest task of any ambitious arts administrator. When Jennifer Bilfield took over as artistic and executive director of Stanford Lively Arts a year ago, she needed to maintain the existing audience for one of the West Coast’s premier arts programs, now almost 40 years old, while providing the kind of intellectually stimulating programming the Stanford University community craved.
For more than a decade, New Yorker classical-music critic Alex Ross has been showing readers why music composed in the last century — and last week — matters. Still safely under 40 and a fan of Radiohead, Bob Dylan, the Velvet Underground, and Björk, as well as Aaron Copland and John Adams, Ross has never succumbed to the institutional elitism, insularity, and conservatism that have pushed many potential listeners away.
Most people made up their minds about Philip Glass a long time ago. If you’ve heard his music at all, you’re probably either an enthusiastic fan (he’s one of the few composers with what’s been called, usually derisively, a cult following), a mild admirer of one or another period of his work, or a rabid detractor.
When he decided to commission a modern Mass from a quintet of contemporary composers, Joseph Jennings, director of the men's chorus Chanticleer, faced some of life's biggest questions. Jennings wanted the new Mass, ultimately titled And on Earth, Peace, to represent different views of faith and people's experiences with faith. "Many people who don't go to church have faith," he says. "I wanted us to work outside of the traditional denominational religious box."
It's common for people approaching middle age to suddenly pursue youth — a sports car, a new job, an affair, a face-lift. In 2003, when the world's most adventurous music ensemble, the Kronos Quartet, neared its 30th birthday, it, too, sought a dose of youthful energy, but in a much more constructive way.