New music, new realities

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Hannan, MF 2002, ' New music, new realities', RealTime, vol. 50, p. 4.

Publisher's version of article available at http://www.realtimearts.net/contents/50/all


A focus on the performance of “contemporary classical” or any other kind of current music is not something one generally associates with the major music schools in Australia, some of which still use the label “Conservatorium” to describe themselves. This term implies an agenda of conserving the repertoire of western classical music, principally of the 18th and 19th centuries. Noble as this aim is, the contemporary reality means new approaches to preparing music professionals are being sought across the sector. Professor Nicolette Fraillon, Director of the Canberra School of Music (and now the newly appointed Music Director and Chief Conductor of the Australian Ballet) notes that because “traditional performance jobs are still being reduced in terms of funding and the sizes of orchestras, (graduates) need to be really prepared and creative in a variety of ways in order to support themselves.” The traditional preparation of a classical music performer is a long and rigorous process. It requires considerably more dedication if you add the skills associated with a variety of contemporary music practices such as the ability to play complex rhythms, to use non-traditional techniques and music technology, to improvise and even to engage with movement and acting. Musical genres are constantly blurring and mutating so it is difficult to know what approach can be adopted to provide the best kind of grounding for the modern musician.

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