New music, also known as contemporary classical music, describes a wide range of styles as well as unexpected bridges between musical genres.
It’s a big territory, but for neophyte new-music listeners, Vayo offers “a few suggestions, all involving living American composers,” to get started in your explorations.
“Approach a new piece as you would an interesting person you’ve just met,” he advises. “Give it your attention and enjoy the new things you learn and the contact between one human spirit and another.”
• Tehillim by Steve Reich, “one of the most profound and joyous” religious pieces of recent decades, says Vayo.
• The symphonies of Glenn Branca. These are not for the New York Philharmonic or IWU Civic Orchestra’s instruments but rather for massed electric guitars (up to 100) and drums. “Walls of sound shot through with brilliant luminosity,” Vayo says.
• Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening pieces. In her music and Deep Listening workshops, “Oliveros helps attune musicians and listeners to subtle changes in long-breathed sounds, using music as a tool for meditation and holistic health,” says Vayo.
• Utah composer (and sometime mayor) Phillip Kent Bimstein (pictured above). He has innovated a form that Vayo calls musical documentary, mixing taped interviews with recorded and live music, with charming and hilarious results. Vayo recommends Casino, Garland Hirschi’s Cows and, for Cardinals fans, The Bushy Wushy Rag.
• The music of Peter Garland. Says Vayo, “He spent many years living among Native Americans in the United States and Mexico and it shows in his compositions, both musically and aesthetically. Garland’s is music of quiet beauty, humility and dignity.” Vayo suggests starting with Sones de Flor.
• The multimedia creations of Meredith Monk (right). “Her innovations in vocal technique alone are enough to assure Monk a place in music history, but she has combined these with original choreography, film and instrumental music. Her primal, ritualistic, yet childlike creations are like nobody else’s.”