If the readership hasn’t already figured it out, I am a composer, hence my special interest in new music. If anyone wants to check out my creative life, I refer them to my website, uhaweb.hartford.edu/CARL. The composers with whom I studied are a diverse and rather “maverick” bunch: Jonathan Kramer (maybe even better known as a theorist and critical thinker, but also a very unusual blend of minimalism and modernism in his own music, who died a few years ago, much too young); George Rochberg (who almost single-handedly created American postmodernism); Ralph Shapey (a visionary in the line of Ruggles and Varèse, but very much his own man); and Iannis Xenakis (perhaps the 20th century’s Berlioz, as his music is so strange, wild, and ahead of its time). Each gave me something very special for my way of understanding and imagining music.
I have always enjoyed writing about music. I do it pretty well; it gives me pleasure, satisfies my curiosity, and helps shape my own thought. Since I teach a lot of younger composers at the Hartt School, University of Hartford, I think it also helps me to assess their music more perceptively in lessons. I also take it as a great opportunity to keep up to date with work in my field via the reviewing. No matter what I pursue personally as a composer, I revel in the rich tapestry of contemporary music. There are many different routes to deep aesthetic experience, and as a listener I revel in my ability to experience their multiplicity. I feel I’m only a more fully formed human as a result.
So I see my role as explicator and advocate for what gives me pleasure. No, I won’t pull punches if I really don’t like something, but frankly the great broom of history will take care of the dreck far more efficiently than I can. I suspect when I wear my critic’s hat, the best thing I can do is to call attention to what’s deserving—what might otherwise be passed over in the ceaseless rush of our lives.