I have been involved in contemporary music for the last 26 years – first going back to school as a grown-up at the University of California–San Diego, and then beginning the Fresh Sound music series in 1997… 20th anniversary coming up. I went back to school after hearing Susan McClary give a talk at UCSD – I had a job I didn’t like, and after hearing her I thought, what the heck?
I got into the UCSD music department, where I finished my undergraduate degree, and then went on to the literature department for grad school. (There was no musicology division at UCSD yet.) It was great… because I was an “older” student, the professors allowed me to write on musical works in place of literature on the same subject – for instance, when assigned to write a paper on literature about the U.S. at war with an Asian country, I wrote about George Crumb’s Black Angels, a lament for the Vietnam War.
After grad school, my original concept was to bring to the San Diego community the music I’d learned about at UCSD, which at that time operated pretty much in its own university bubble. The first concert was with Steven Schick, professor of percussion there – now conducting and writing as well – and his grad student Vanessa Tomlinson. They will perform again on the 20th-anniversary concert.
Then, after I lived in New York for three years, my focus changed. I wanted to bring in music that San Diegans wouldn’t hear otherwise. And this continues. It’s been remarkable to me how this community of contemporary musicians and composers has expanded and enriched my life. I am still connected with UCSD, and go to many of the concerts there, and the Fresh Sound music series has brought me together with musicians around the world. It is wonderful to have this global community when we get together in New York, at concerts in Los Angeles, and here at home.
A few years ago, I held around 16 soirees at my home to discuss and play music. This began when I listened to the Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music, a fascinating 16-disc collection. The series continued with attendees presenting any kind of music they liked; the only requirement was to put it into historical context. The people who attended have remained friends and colleagues: hence, local community.