Composing is generally a solitary activity. Perhaps that’s why composers will jump at the chance to meet up with other artists in their field and – pardon the pun – swap notes. Throughout history composers have huddled together over coffee, wine, beer (or more illicit substances) in salons, bars, backrooms and pubs to discuss their craft, where things are up to now and where they should be heading.
On June 25th in New York, innova recordings’ director Philip Blackburn and New Spectrum Foundation’s Glenn Cornett hosted one such meeting in the bohemian setting of New Spectrum’s brand new performance space, an old synagogue in Manhattan’s East Village. One by one an eclectic group of composers arrived and convivially assembled around wine and sushi. From established veterans through to young-guns barely out of school, the group represented the broadest of cross-sections of American contemporary music. One of the few common characteristics they shared: they were all artists with albums released on the innova label.
After a brief introductory whip-around Blackburn got down to business: how does innova support the artists it represents? With admirable dedication, it turns out. innova’s webpage is a social media marvel, a hub of interconnected twitter feeds, YouTube channels, Facebook updates, iTunes accounts and Amazon shopping carts. This combined with innova’s detailed information on the artists, a massive database of music magazines that intelligently targets reviewers, and an easily negotiated catalogue searchable by even the most esoteric of keywords means that the label is entirely capable of “marketing the unmarketable,” as described by innova artist Joel Chadabe.
The presentations continued with artist David Keberle. Although one of the most recent additions to the innova catalogue, Keberle is a long established artist and many of the works on his album are live performances rather than studio recordings. As such, Keberle’s presentation centered on the sophisticated editing techniques available to composers today, which enable them to edit out unwanted sounds as finicky as overzealous key clicks or a sneezing audience member. This however seemed to touch on something fundamental to the gathered composers: does editing out these sounds diminish the integrity of a live performance or improve it? Lively yet amiable discussion ensued, though the issue remained unresolved.
The night drew to a close with an intimate performance by Kitty Brazelton, who, accompanied by composer/guitarist Hui Cox, treated the group to a soulful performance of selections from her innova album, “Ecclesiastes”. Wine had been drunk, sushi had been eaten and new connections had been made. The assembled Innova composers were fare-welled by Blackburn and Corbett and one by one they disappeared into the rainy summer night.
Photo (left): Kitty Brazelton performs pieces from her album “Ecclesiastes”
Photo (above): Philip Blackburn greets the Innova artists
Contributed by Timothy Hansen >>