Ingram Marshall: Today’s Music Tomorrow

Ingram Marshall: Today’s Music Tomorrow

FRANK J. OTERI: So in terms of people coming to your music and discovering your music, I discovered your music on recordings. There are all these recordings on New Albion, two albums on Nonesuch, and an album on New World. There’s actually quite a lot of your music out there in the world. But not really that many opportunities to hear it live… So most people who learn about you are hearing you in their homes.


FRANK J. OTERI: Is that ideal?

INGRAM MARSHALL: It’s just reality right now. I’m very proud of my recordings. I think they represent my work; they’re not just incidental kind of documents. If you want to know my music you should listen to the recordings. Maybe some of them aren’t perfect, but I think what I’ve done in the realm of making recordings represents my music, my art. I would love to have more live performances of things, of course, who wouldn’t? But I think so far you know I’ve been able to put myself out into the musical world pretty effectively with recordings. By effective, I mean, aesthetically successful. There could be more. There are only six or seven. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, oh there’s one missing, 7. And they’re all in print.

FRANK J. OTERI: It’s amazing!

INGRAM MARSHALL: But I have to confess, I’m not prolific. I don’t write a lot of music and it takes me a long time to finish things and it used to worry me. I used to think “Oh, God, my career, it’s not gonna go anywhere unless I have four or five symphonies, you know, and more of this and more of that. But I always think of poets who maybe every five years publish a very slim volume of poetry. I was looking for a book of poems by J.D. McClatchey the other day. I was looking for him at the local bookstores and I found one but not the other. And I was thinking, “You know, this guy hasn’t published anything for five years. It had been five years between books and then he came out with two and then they’re thin and you look through them and see maybe 20 or 25 poems, but they’re really good. You know, this is stuff you can go back to again and again and I think of my work as a little like that, you know there’s a certain essence, there’s a certain concentrated quality to my work and that well, it’s the old thing quality versus quantity. I just try to focus on doing what I do well. It’s not a lot, but you get a lot more out of what I’ve done hopefully.

FRANK J. OTERI: Getting back to this notion of career, because you brought up the dreaded word “career.” I can think of very few composers out there who have two recordings coming out in such close proximity like this, you know, two recordings dedicated to your music. Dark Waters on New Albion and now Kingdom Come on Nonesuch, one month after the other. That’s unheard of. You know, not even John Adams or Steve Reich or Philip Glass can say this…

INGRAM MARSHALL: Yeah, but they’ve put out quite a bit…

FRANK J. OTERI: Oh, it’s true.

INGRAM MARSHALL: The New Albion record could’ve come out a year ago. For that matter, so could’ve the Nonesuch; it’s just a question of time. But you know, there’s another recording that’s just coming out, a guitar piece I wrote for a wonderful guitarist named Ben Verdery.

FRANK J. OTERI: Oh yeah, he’s great!

INGRAM MARSHALL: And it’s called “Sopa,” which is a Tibetan word. It means, patience. And it’s a pretty major work. It’s like 18 almost 20 minutes long. There are other pieces, of course, on his album. A wonderful piece by my friend Jack Vees. Something by Dan Asia and a bunch of things by Ben. So it’s not just all my music, but that’s coming out very soon too.

FRANK J. OTERI: But it’s a wonderful cluster because you know you get yourself out here in this world and, you know, it seems like now in the days of self-publishing and self-recording, everyone can have a disc out. But the mainstream media has no time for it. There are over 500 other CDs on their tables already. But here you have two albums on very high profile labels that get paid attention to because they’re both boutique labels. They don’t put out a lot of stuff and everything they put out is quality. And there’s been this accidental synchronicity and boom, they’re both out at the same time. And now you’re telling me there’s a third. I think the moment is right for you to become a household word!

INGRAM MARSHALL: There’s actually a fourth. This is a real oddball thing; I don’t know if you’ve heard about it. It’s already out. It’s not a CD, it’s a DVD. It’s called Immersion.

FRANK J. OTERI: Oh, yes! That’s right. We did a news story on that in NewMusicBox.

INGRAM MARSHALL: So, it’s a piece I wrote for Surround Sound. And that’s a real anthology of a lot of different composers.

FRANK J. OTERI: That’s a really exciting project.

INGRAM MARSHALL: So that’s out. That’s a nice piece. I’ve forgotten what I called it now, but anyhow, that doesn’t matter. But that’s out there too. And Icon that was only about a year ago or so that it came out. I’ve really enjoyed this sudden renaissance of getting my work out after almost four years, I think. It seems like a long time.

FRANK J. OTERI: But when Evensongs came out in 1997, I thought, “This is going to be a breakthrough album.” I know that Bradley Bambarger was raving about it in Billboard. And we were all hoping that your five-minute string quartet piece would be played all over the radio. We thought it would break you into the mass market. I don’t even know if that’s something you want.

INGRAM MARSHALL: I’m working on a piece for the mass market. I told you about before…It’s a mass!

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