There is a divide between audiences and concert composers. Orchestras are suffering everywhere. That’s in part because it is a musical museum and also because, perhaps, composers take themselves a wee bit too seriously?
Let’s face it, music is not an essential to life like water, food, air and shelter. It is an extra. But it is those extras that we live for, the extras that make our lives special.
During the Second World War, Winston Churchill’s finance minister said Britain should cut arts funding to support the war effort. Churchill’s response: “Then what are we fighting for?”
In the decade since I graduated with my master’s degree in composition, my perception of my role as composer has gradually changed.
And now, you won’t see me writing numbered symphonies or concerti, or a 30 minute song cycle where people must sit still without clapping through uncomfortable silences as pages are turned. You won’t hear me talk about pitch systems or extended techniques to an audience at a pre-concert talk.
My aim is to write melodic, evocative music that is, fresh, unique, engaging and often fun to play and hear. Music that is an asset to the musicians who plays it and a joy (with a bit of challenge) to the audience who listens.
Because I believe the concert hall can be a place of wonder, excitement, emotion and awe. That concert music can be new. youthful and full of life. Not just a place for a good nap!
So that’s why I say that I will no longer refer to the music I write as “serious music” or “art music” and I will not refer to my pieces as “works”.
They are just pieces of music. No more, and certainly no less.