Icebreaker IV: The American Future Jan 26, 2008

by KateR

As the opening to her program message, Elena Dubinets writes, "SCP is committed to supporting the composition and performance of music that elucidates and celebrates, shouts and protests, meditates and contemplates, music written by composers seeking a way to reflect articulately upon these complicated times." The Alex Ross curated program of "Icebreaker IV" certainly meditates and contemplates. There may have even been a hint of elucidation and celebration in the mix, but I doubt very much whether the composers or performers could have brought themselves to shout and protest if an army of bloodthirsty fiends descended upon them brandishing bayonets and hot irons. I was pleased to attend this showcase and would go to similar events in a heartbeat. It did strike me as being far too cautious in all respects, however. I listened to the bulk of Alex Ross's pre-concert talk and was impressed by what he had to say about intellectual vs. emotional aspects of music. Within the ensuing performances, it seemed to me that the blend the composers were trying to achieve had less to do with an intellectual/emotional balance than a balance between academic compositional style and the concept of emotion. Perhaps bold, raw emotion will someday break through the resolutely studied veneer of the works of these composers, but it was awfully shy about making an appearance last night. I have an obsession with sound and thrive off of a variety of musical genres. Classical music is not the only form of music I surround myself with, but it is one of the most important forms to me. Particularly I believe instrumental classical music, unfettered by the semantic specificity of spoken language, has the potential to sculpt the human heart and imagination in a unique and devastatingly powerful manner. My hope for the future of these American composers is that their academically exceptional compositional skills decide to rebel en masse, go out on the town, have a few too many drinks and wind up in an alley in the arms of a weathered derelict. - Kate Ratcliffe