Music In Good Company

Music In Good Company

So how about that Cage centennial coming up next year? I’m pretty psyched. In January I’ll be teaching an enrichment class that will deal in part with Cage’s music prior to 1945, and in May a new piece of mine for large chamber ensemble will be sharing some program space with the man’s work (exactly which piece or pieces is yet to be determined).

When we were discussing programming for this show some weeks ago, I raised the possibility of Fourteen to round out a program including two very substantial student pieces. To be frank, my craven thinking was that Fourteen, an unbelievably gorgeous piece that I adore, might be a good choice because it’s unlikely to upstage me and my colleague; both of us will be offering very dense pieces in which texture carries affectively valent arguments (q.v. Now, of course, we’re considering a much more complex and ambitious programming strategy, and Fourteen may no longer be in the running.

The conversation got me thinking, though: Is it wrong to put together a program that will show one’s own work in the best light? It’s not like we considered a bad piece: It’s just a neutral, elegant piece that won’t compete against our white-knuckled ardor for the audience’s attention. In fact, if you really like neutrality and elegance, maybe Fourteen would upstage us. But it’s not a piece that’s going to beat us at our own game. Maybe this is just good programming, not passive-aggressive self-aggrandizement. Has anybody else out there resorted to such skulduggery?

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