When was the last time you heard a new work by a living composer at a band or orchestra concert that you really enjoyed? Many of us have difficulty remembering the last time this happened. Occasionally this experience does take place, but these seem to not happen frequently.
The problem with a lot of contemporary music is that there is heavy pressure on emerging composers to write complex music. Composers sometimes achieve this goal, but often at the expense of losing their audience. Even some of the most respected and well-established publishers in today’s market are producing piles of music few people want to listen to and that rarely gets performed. It’s also no surprise that composers like Eric Whitacre and Philip Glass have become a breath of fresh air in today’s largely inaccessible concert music field.
I am not suggesting complex music cannot sound beautiful. Composers like Béla Bartók and Igor Stravinsky proved that complex music could still remain accessible to the audience. It’s also a fact that you rarely see new works programmed in orchestra concerts. Audiences continue to see Beethoven programmed over and over again because it is accessible music, and the orchestras know this. Many of today’s new composers often fail to keep their audience’s interest.
Composers today are pushed in universities to produce the most complex music possible and many of today’s college professors do not have to work to sell their music in a real world market. This is why there often is not more emphasis in college on making music accessible to the audience. If a composer could not rely on teaching income and had to survive only off of their own composition sales, we would see a very different trend in concert music. The fact is, most people want to hear music that moves them — music that leaves a strong impression. There will always be a strong demand for accessible music, and that is the kind of music I am to write.