Contemporary music has been a passion of mine since attending graduate school at the Eastman School of Music. Shortly after graduation, I began an association with an ensemble in Rochester known as Gibbs & Main, which really highlighted to me why contemporary music isn’t only an academic pursuit, but an essential piece of our continually evolving humanity. During my year with Gibbs & Main, we recorded the CD Terra Nova, which exclusively featured world premieres of works by New York State composers. The production of this disc saw the melding of Latin American and classical styles, a tone poem based off of the classic Duke Ellington song Caravan, the continuation of a great song tradition by Carson Cooman, and the creation of something entirely new by Jud Greenstein. If we are to move forward in this increasingly complex and divisive world as human beings, it is essential that we continue to recognize the melding of cultures, and listen to one another. The need to listen, reach out, and commune is what makes contemporary music so essential to what it means to be human.
That’s why I’m proud to call myself a musician in the Albany Symphony Orchestra. In my (so far) lone year in the ensemble, Maestro David Alan Miller has consistently shown a commitment not only to the great traditions of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms, but also to the continuing tradition of American music – the tradition of listening, trying new things, and making everything that’s old, new again. The Albany Symphony’s announced recording project, exclusively featuring the works of living American composers, furthers that tradition.
According to Arkivmusic.com, there are three-hundred and twenty-three separately published recordings of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The investment in the recorded legacy of the classical tradition has been more than adequate. The biggest challenge facing contemporary music isn’t the world premiere – it’s the second listening, and beyond. Concert surveys show that repeat listenings increases an audience’s enjoyment of a given piece of music immensely. That’s why the Albany Symphony Orchestra only records the major works of living composers – so that someday, perhaps you will speak about attending one of the first performances of a great new work with the same reverence that someone once spoke about attending the world premiere of Brahms’ First Symphony. This year, the Albany Symphony Orchestra followed that calling to its first ever Grammy Award. Come be a part of the next one. When you invest in the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s recording project, you’re not investing in the past. You’re investing in the future, in exploration, and most importantly, in humanity.