Sunday, March 4, 2012

Have the "Mavericks" Left Our Shores?

I have to say that I am generally sympathetic with the misgivings that Joshua Kosman voiced in the Sunday Datebook section of today’s San Francisco Chronicle.  The title of his article is “Maverick idea for Symphony festival - new players;”  and the basis thesis (in my own words) is that there is a disconcerting been-there-done-that feel to the San Francisco Symphony American Mavericks festival that is about to begin.  However, if the lion’s share of this festival amounts to revisiting music performed at past festivals, were should we be looking?

As I thought about this, I realized that some of the most striking new music I have experienced does not come from American composers.  Put another way, the “Maverick action,” so to speak, is in Europe and Asia, rather than in the United States.  We got a warning signal that this might be the case when Sofia Gubaidulina was composer-in-residence with the Symphony;  and no one has shaken the tree quite the way she did during her residency.  So, could it be that, if we want to find “mavericks” these days, we need to look to post-Communist Eastern Europe, Finland, Japan, and possibly even China?  If so, then what does that say about the talents of future American composers?

No comments: