An edited version of this article was first published by the Columbus Dispatch under the title "Don’t miss contemporary art-music scene in Columbus"
on Saturday January 9, 2016 at 5:00 AM. Below is the originally submitted, unedited, article.
Columbus New Music Resolution
by Michael Rene Torres
Columbus Ohio Discovery Ensemble
Why should Columbusites make a contemporary music New Year’s Resolution? Because it’s time for us to focus on the “here and now!” Culturally, we’re conditioned to look toward places like New York City, Paris, and Los Angeles to know what’s fresh in art and fashion. There’s nothing wrong with that, except that we often overlook the creative things and creative people in our own communities. We forget that art happens everywhere and that artists are contributing, hard-working members of our local communities. That’s such a great aspect about our city; Columbus has an outstanding art scene and a fantastic sense of support for our local artists. Specifically, Columbus’ contemporary art music scene has really blossomed in the past seven years.
We’re fortunate in Columbus to have organizations like the Johnstone Fund for New Music which has sponsored almost every major contemporary music event in the city for the past seven years (many of which have been free)! We’re fortunate to have large professional ensembles like the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra (and so many others) that are committed to presenting new music by living composers on their concerts every season. We’re fortunate to have emerging chamber music initiatives like the Columbus Ohio Discovery Ensemble, the VIVO Music Festival, and the Columbus // NYC New Music Exchange that are bringing fresh new sounds to venues throughout the city. We’re fortunate to have universities like OSU, Capital, and Otterbein that are at the forefront of programing and teaching new music. We’re fortunate to have tons of outstanding local performers and composers who not only believe in the substance and relevance of contemporary art music, but who are working hard right now in our community to bring this music to us (that’s right, there are composers who are alive and writing music in our city!).
But why should we in Columbus spend our time going to hear contemporary classical music live? The music is weird; we don’t understand it; we’re afraid we won’t like it; blah; blah; blah… Our cultural “fear of the unknown” leads us to avoid things that we may not understand. It feels safe to stay within our habits and to consume the same experiences that we already know we like. We dismiss experiences that might challenge us, even before we try them. New art OFTEN challenges us and that’s because art is intrinsically human. In other words, art represents and resembles us in profoundly personal ways and since humans are complicated, strange, insecure, neurotic creatures, so is our art. The art music of our time really exemplifies what it means to be a modern human in a crazy world. We should embrace it! Besides, understanding the music is not a prerequisite to enjoying it. Let your imagination develop a personal understanding of the art. Your experience while listening will be completely unique and you’ll be exploring new areas of wonder and excitement. Contemporary art music is alive and thriving in Columbus and 2016 will offer many opportunities to experience it. Don’t be afraid. Make a New Year’s Resolution to take a chance, hear new sounds, and discover new music! You won’t regret it!