With just a few clicks I was able to find a video of Brian Sacawa, Curator of the Contemporary Museum’s Mobtown Modern and Saxophonist, giving his Ignite Baltimore 5 presentation entitled “Hybridity: Remaking the (New) Musical Horizon in Baltimore.” I had the opportunity to start working with Brian at the end of Mobtown Modern‘s last season and the beginning of this season with LigetiFest. Sacawa is consistently showing Baltimoreans that contemporary music is interesting, thought-provoking, diverse in style, and fun. Here is Sacawa’s introduction from Ignite’s website:
New-music (or alt-classical, anyone?) is in the midst of a zeitgeist. There is an undeniable energy and vitality to much of the music being created. And although there are different streams within this movement, there seems to be a common overarching goal to create a new musical culture. This new hybrid combines modern composition with sound worlds drawn from a wide range of genres — from pop to rock to hip-hop and beyond — as well as aspects of the cultures that surround those forms of expression. Some attempts to realize this new culture, such as juxtaposing a new-music ensemble and an indie-rock outfit on the same bill with no clear purpose, do absolutely nothing of musical value (except maybe make the new-music kids in the audience feel a bit cooler and the indie-rock kids in the audience feel a bit smarter), while others get much closer to the mark. The most successful experiments have been those that combine genres unselfconsciously while highlighting the similarities between musical cultures and forgoing the gimmicks that this sort of synthesis lends itself to much too easily.
The majority of the credit for this movement has been bestowed on the scene in NYC, which might lead an ambitious new-music composer or performer to think that in order to be a part of the vanguard and really “make it” they need to be in New York themselves. That’s been the traditional benchmark of success. And if you can’t make it there, well, why the hell would you even want to try to make it anywhere else since you’ve failed already?
I think it’s time that we turn the page on this antiquated idea that to be a successful and important artist it’s imperative that NYC plays a significant role on your CV. It’s an old idea that has in many ways been rendered moot in the age of interconnectivity and constant contact. Without taking anything away from the contributions that have come from the NYC scene, I think Baltimore is uniquely positioned and equipped to create a more definitive and lasting version of this brave new sonic world.
How reassuring is it to hear someone say that you do not need to starve in New York City to make it? This “brave new sonic world” is anywhere you can make it. It takes a group of dedicated musicians that know how to spread the word and are not afraid of something they have not done before. I like what Sacawa says in the video, “Baltimore can be, should be, and is a place for musical innovation.”
Again, for your viewing pleasure, here is the youtube video:
- Mobtown Modern’s 2010-2011 Season Starts Next Week (avantmusicnews.com)
- New article at NewMusicBox.org (netnewmusic.net)
- New Music at Festival, but Familiar Players (nytimes.com)