Tom Service introduces his new series on contemporary classical music, and explains how we need your help
The music of our time is the music of all time. I've just come up with that, but it's a pretty good motto for a new strand of what you'll be seeing on this blog for the next year. Next week, we launch a new series on contemporary classical music. Each week, I'll be giving a brief overview of the life, music, and online presence of the composers who matter the most to today's musical life, who have made the greatest difference to the last century's musical history - and, to be honest, the ones that mean the most to me, and, I hope, to you too!
Of course, a mere 52 weeks and 52 composers isn't enough time to reflect a cross-section of everything that's happening in contemporary music, but it is enough time to curate a new-music gallery that should open ears and minds to the music of today.
But before we start, some explanations. We've decided that to be eligible to make it into this new-music lineup, a composer has to be alive (er, obviously!), or born within the last 100 years. Do you disagree? Tell us in the comments section below. As for the definition of "new music", itself, don't get me started.
All right, do: most of the composers, but not all, will be those who write or have written for acoustic instruments and/or electronics; most, but not all, will compose or have composed scores; most, but not all, will be those you would probably (but not definitely) find somewhere in the contemporary classical or avant-garde sections of your local record store or online retailer; they will, however, all have the potential to change the doors of our musical perception and therefore shake up the world just a little bit.
That's both a definition of having your cake and eating it, and a pretty convincing knot of existential knicker-twisting: but it's proof, if proof be need be, as Chris Morris would say, of the essential diversity of the thing we call "new music".
But most importantly, this is a collaborative exercise, and we need your help. On Friday, in our Film&Music supplement, we're launching the series with a feature that dispels the five greatest myths about contemporary classical music. (What are they? Suggestions welcome below!) Also, tell us in the comment section which composers you'd like to see included in our survey, and, as the weeks progress, suggest links, key works, great performances, anecdotes - anything that will help build a picture of the composer we're discussing. You can also tweet us on @gdnclassical
And so to start us off next week: Elliot Carter, who will be the only composer who qualifies not on the born-in-the-last-100-years rule, but in the alive-today rule.
Welcome to the music of the future, today!
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