Festival of Contemporary Music, San Francisco

Last night I got out to hear the second concert in the 6th Annual Festival of Contemporary Music hosted by the New Music Forum. That is quite a grand name, and of course the festival gave but a small sampling of contemporary music.

By coincidence, this was at the Community Music Center, the same location as the Edgetone New Music Summit. Although both ostensibly “new music,” this program had a much more traditional feel to it.

The second night focused on pieces for piano, electronics and wind ensemble, all instrumentation I have experience with (as opposed to my more limited experience with string ensembles). The programming seemed to have been done to balance the instrumentation, rather than the pieces themselves, with one piano, one digital media piece, and a piece for wind ensemble in each half.

The second half opened with a virtuosic and theatric performance by pianist Jerry Kuderna of Schematic Nocturne by Bruce Bennet, and probably the best performance of the evening. It was followed by Staring at the Sun, a piece for “stereo digital audio media” by Andrew Cole. It interesting how programs are finally catching up to the contemporary world and no longer calling such pieces “tape music.” I did recognize in Cole’s piece many examples of key clicks and other extended woodwind techniques, which made it fit better into the full program than just a piece for computer-generated sounds. The final piece, Woodwind Quintet by Martha Stoddard was a departure from the rest of the evening in that it was the only piece with multiple movements, and also had a more traditional feel, with traditional harmonies, Middle Eastern scales, and other elements that almost made it seem like the curators were saying “now that you have sat through all this new music, here is something simpler to enjoy.” But of course, I came specifically to hear “new music”, so I preferred the earlier pieces.

5 thoughts on “Festival of Contemporary Music, San Francisco

  1. My favourite is the gun-bass.
    I’m planning on building the same gun-bass using the image i’ve download. Does it have a design patent or something ?

  2. I love new music festivals, England is a great place to live for them but the San Francisco sounds great, would love to get in to some American new music as well as the UK scene.

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