Saturday, December 14, 2002


Bruno’s place

Bruno Bollaert has been running the excellent website since 1994. I discovered it only recently thanks to the good people at Servustats. The emphasis in a generally eclectic set of art music references is on contemporary through-composed tonal music (OK, ‘minimalist’, but I really don’t think that term does justice to the likes of Andreissen and Adams). It is a well organised and niftily designed log – aesthetically pleasing to the adventurous, helpfully off-putting to muzak lovers. Give december a visit and drop an encouraging note, if you are so inclined, to He has kindly name-checked NewFrontEars. Oh, and getting the twelfth month as your personal URL nearly nine years ago… how cool is that?

Freedom road?

What exactly qualifies as ‘new’ and ‘contemporary’? A quick web search tells you that whereas these were once ciphers for the daunting and demanding in modern musical arts, these days they can easily mean, respectively, the latest from Foo Fighters and a euphemism for AOR atrocities (as in ‘adult contemporary’, almost as pornographic as it sounds).

Back in October I enjoyed rant on the future of ‘classical’ and serious (as in ‘artistically purposeful’) musics. Of course this one runs and drones all over the web. And not just on music-alone sites. Check out the lively squeaks from in his not-a-blog, for example. He has some valid points to make. His ‘popular’ horizons seem rather limited, admittedly. His take on jazz (“jazz musicians usually limit themselves to a 3-7 minute time slot”) is quixotic. And his libertarian politics ranges from stimulating to worrying (this is a US site). But, hey, it’s the Season of Goodwill. The man writes really stimulating, argumentative copy. And we can surely all be grateful for the crucial reference on to…

Sequenza 21

Simply the best weekly of its kind Sequenza 21 (in its own words) aims “to promote contemporary classical music and its creators. Our approach is that of music lovers who are catholic and apolitical in our tastes. We embrace all serious modern music and aim to do so without favouring one school or type of music over another. If we have a bias, it is toward living, working composers because they are the dedicated people who don't get enough attention or opportunities to have their music heard or recorded.”

It also avers that “the concept of quality [is] the only criteria for what endures in the arts. We consider our mission to be to help create and enlarge the audience for contemporary classical music. We welcome all fellow travellers on this mission.”

Amen to that, and congratulations to Duane Grant and Jerry Bowles on a superb source for modern music lovers. Check out their composer links, essential library and excellent general resources. This, in my view, is one of *the* places to begin in the ‘contemporary classical’ scene.

Listology: BBC, Questia, Bundler and miscellany

In case the obvious has passed you by, the BBC has a pretty useful reviews site. The A-Z ranges from the serious to the jolly, and back again. Search under ‘classical’ and ‘popular’ if you can’t take the melange. Better still, just dive in. There’s room for readers’ comments, with varying degrees of literacy.

While I’m here, let me also mention: Questia, one of the largest libraries on the web (with significant contemporary music resources); the Twentieth and Nineteenth Century Music Webring; Rob Le Grand’s interesting music collection; the anonymous but informative 'David Bundler'; and a couple of direct offbeat music sources: Primal Records and Infinite Jazz.

Happy (ideas) shopping.

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