Kaleidoscope in Sound

CLASSICAL MUSIC

by Austin Baer

KALEIDOSCOPE IN SOUND

composer writing in our time is very fortunate. There are so many ways of writing music available to us, styles that have been developed and polished by our teachers’ generation. Our challenge as composers is not to find a system, form a school, and find a lot of followers, the way Schoenberg did when he invented 12-tone music. The challenge in this time is to take advantage of many styles. What is important is the message. What do you want to say? How clearly is it carried through? If you describe different stories, you’d use different styles,”So says the ChineseAmerican composer Bright Sheng. whose jagged memorial to the Cultural Revolution. H un {Lacerations): In Memoriam 1966-1976. has been haunting symphony audiences throughout America and beyond. Other colors from his palette w ill figure on several programs of Wet Ink 1993. the San Francisco Symphony’s eight-concert festival of new music, for which Sheng is also serving as artistic director (April 9 to 30). True to his eclectic convictions, Sheng has also scheduled works new to San Francisco from all over the Pacific Rim, Australia to Canada. Mexico to Malaysia, plus a few entries from other parts of the globe. A single program may showcase a half-dozen composers. “Variety,” says Sheng, “is very important— within concerts and between concerts.” Might the works still have something in common? “Good pieces.” says Sheng. “are self-confident pieces.”

Bright Sheng

COVER IMAGE: TRIihUi CLEF fit. 1932-19.15. JOSEF ALBERS 11888-197ft I. COURTESY OF Till; JOSEF Al.BERS FOUNDATION. PHOTO: TIM NIGELS WANDER.