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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LINES OF ENQUIRY | Indie-Classical, For All its Boundary-Shifting, Is Another Boys Club

By Curtis Perry on December 2, 2014

Let’s presume this ‘indie-classical’ moniker isn’t going away. We have a cast of certain regular suspects: Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, Richard Reed Parry, Max Richter, Hauschka, and Jonny Greenwood. I enjoy these folks’ work as much as anyone, but unfortunately they represent, in aggregate, a systemic issue that listeners ought to leave behind in the classical world. This isn’t anyone’s fault in particular. Dismantling a patriarchal system that took hundreds of years to build is simply going to take some time. It’s why we hear about “women composers” in the papers, but never hear about “men composers.” It’s why there is a lopsided gender ratio among members at the Canadian Music Centre. It’s why we don’t ask men how their gender and maleness informs their music. And this all needs to be reconsidered.

Let’s also consider the “indie” half of this moniker. Is a release on Deutsche Grammophon, for example, indie? It’s a decent spiritual sentiment, but many critics have rightly questioned the term as a public relations stunt. However, this kind of genre straddling comes from a very real place, not just as part of a career trajectory but also as an attitude and a way of thinking about music without boundaries. Part of that boundary shifting ought to necessarily involve a deeper discussion and consideration of gender.

Among the more famed of composers off the top of my head would include Sarah Kirkland Snider, who has been involved with yMusic and has collaborated with Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond). There’s also Missy Mazzoli, who has premiered a chamber opera in NYC’s storied venue The Kitchen and plays in Victoire, her electro-acoustic band dedicated to performing her own music (a choice in repertoire presumed to be the norm when talking about indie bands).

Then there’s a rich scene happening in Toronto, of course. Among these people, Monica Pearce stands out to me as one who works especially hard in many aspects of cultivating the scene, whether it’s with Toy Piano Composers, The Music Gallery, the Canadian Music Centre, or Musicworks. Pearce will be premiering her piece ‘vivid’ in a concert at Hawthorne Public School in Ottawa, on December 10th at 7pm. The piece is part of the University of Ottawa’s faculty of education’s “Making Music with Young Musicians” project. It heartens me, as a new hire on the board, to see concerted progress (pun intended) that takes into account locality, authorship, and balanced demographics in addition to pedagogical value. It’s a personal goal of mine to help find ways to make this repertoire more widely known, available, and most importantly put into practice.

I’m missing so many names – inevitably – and I make no claim that the names I’ve mentioned are the ‘best’. I encourage you to share more people and works that represent this broadened, more accurate notion of indie-classical music in the comments.

Curtis Perry

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Ludwig Van Toronto

ON THE RADAR | The Great Big Messiah List: A Guide For Holidays

By Hye Won Cecilia Lee on November 25, 2017

Yes, Toronto, December is just around the corner and it means Messiah time: cut, uncut, traditional, children’s, a new adaptation — you can take your pick!
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ON THE RADAR | How We Learned "The Cello Handshake" At RCM's Open House

By Robin Roger on November 27, 2017

Ludwig Van stops by RCM's open-house for a sample of music courses, instruments, lectures, and performances and more.
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ROUNDUP | 10 Canadian Composers Who Are Redefining Classical Music

By Hye Won Cecilia Lee on November 29, 2017

A survey of 10 Canadian composers, young and old, who are innovating the future of classical music.
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