Cynicism in Classical Music—has skepticism become the norm?
28 Oct 2012
Interchanging Idioms

People think there is a catch to TwtrSymphony

TwtrSymphony is an orchestra founded because I write orchestra music and need an orchestra to play it. The problem I face getting my music played by other orchestras is simple: Music Directors and Conductors are extremely busy. Even if they're willing to give my music a glance (and few of them are willing unless they already have a personal relationship with me), they often don't do more than listen to the first couple of minutes of music. If the music doesn't grab them by that point, they're done and my score goes no further. While some will accept midi realizations, again, these who do are by far the minority. Even those who accept midi realizations prefer live recordings. So, composers need live-orchestras to record their music if they have any hope of getting music played by a live orchestra — rather a catch-22.

I believe TwtrSymphony is the perfect solution to this conundrum. We perform 140 seconds (or 2 mins, 20 seconds) of music. Composers can select the best 140 seconds to show off a piece, have a live orchestra (TwtrSymphony) record it and really have something to give Music Directors and Conductors. We want to apply our techniques for other composers — to give them the opportunity to get a live recording of their music.

However, many composers I have spoken to aren't interested, they are skeptical, waiting for the catch. Has the classical music world become so cynical to think no one is going to offer help to up and coming composers?

Unfortunately, it's not just composers that are skeptical. A number of musicians I've spoken to about playing with TwtrSymphony are skeptical about the process. "What are we paid?" "Who profits from the sale of the music?" "How often will I be featured as a musicians?" are some of the questions I've been asked. While, right now no one is getting any money, we are tying to change that. Building an orchestra from the ground up–particularly one that is attempting such a radical change from the traditional form–takes time. We are looking at doing a Kickstarter in November/December for the primary purpose of getting money for the musicians. The pay won't be much, but it is a start. The current slate of musicians with TwtrSymphony are dedicated to the concept, not the money, and for that I am very grateful. Still, musicians work hard and deserve to be paid for their efforts.

In 2013, when TwtrSymphony becomes a non-profit organization—like the other orchestras in the US—the focus will be making sure the musicians have a fair portion of the pie. Because our musicians are based all over the world, becoming a union orchestra isn't even an option for us. So, the musicians will have to trust that TwtrSymphony has their best interests at heart. I hope to never abuse that trust, which is why the cynicism of many of the classical musicians I talk to concerns me.

The genesis of TwtrSymphony was a vanity project—a chance for me to get real orchestral recordings of some of my compositions. Over the past eight months it has become much more than that. I believe that TwtrSymphony can fill the void between new composers and the audience. It can create a mechanism whereby Music Directors and Conductors can discover new composers. It can provide a central place where the classical music audience can investigate the latest offerings of composers whose careers they wish to follow. It can serve to broaden the interest in new music and strengthen the commitment of standing orchestras towards unknown composers.

TwtrSymphony musicians share one basic trait—a dedication to the concept of playing new orchestra music—and getting it out to people who aren't your typical orchestra going audience. Our videos are extremely popular on YouTube (the first couple have over 1200 views each — that in less than 3 months). Over ninety-four hours of Our music has been listened to at 140 seconds at a time. We are reaching fans all over the world.

I feel very fortunate to be part of TwtrSymphony. While I started the Twitter account and, so far, have been the primary composer for the orchestra, I want it to be a resource for composers, musicians and Music Directors. TwtrSymphony is not just a cool concept, it can be a really useful tool to get new orchestra music out in the world. Hopefully, a symbol against the cynicism rampant in classical music today.

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