The 38th annual Festival of New Music is underway, with guest composer Thomas Wells giving a talk to our composition seminar yesterday. Wells is particularly interested in pedagogical and historical aspects of composition, and provided some fascinating history about his student days at the University of Texas, Austin.
I might be more interested in this than most, since I was also a student there, but I tend to see the development of institutions as being similar to composition. Both are combinations of planned decisions and serendipitous discovery. You try things out, you revise along the way. Sometimes you don’t move on to new material soon enough. Some institutions are monothematic; others diverse collages of style and idea that you can navigate.
Wells’s talk reminded of how much international exposure the university has provided to the community, and for how long. As a high school student Wells heard a talk by Karlheinz Stockhausen in 1963, and said that listening to Kontakt “blew my mind.” He studied with Stockhausen in 1968 and 1972.
I’ll be posting more about the festival during and afterwards, and posting pictures to my Flickr stream, as well as the Facebook event page.