The Deanery – by Jason Roberts
I know that lots of historians have speculated about where music is headed: we can see looking backwards how the chant of the middle ages turned into renaissance polyphony, and how this gave way to the baroque and then the galant style. And then we can trace how composers gradually extended their harmonic language through the romantic period until we ended up with twelve-tone serialism. It does seem, as some of the historians say, that composers today just imitate music of one period or another, and this seems a little unfortunate. Where will music go next?
How did composers in the past come up with new compositional styles? It seems that it was often by combining ideas from the music that they heard around them: folk music was an inspiration to the composers of the early classical period and also very important
to those in the late nineteenth century. Asian music inspired lots of early twentieth-century Europeans, and more recently all kinds of non-musical sounds have been fashioned into some kind of music by adventurous composers.
Although I think a lot of today’s popular music is horrible, maybe something about it will prove to be a seed for the music of the future. And perhaps we, as organists, are well placed to be on the forefront of new music. While much “art” music is composed without much regard for the average uneducated listener, as organists we often encounter these people week after week when we work at religious institutions. In churches and syna- gogues all over the place there are very talented musicians struggling to reconcile the kind of music that they think is valuable with what their congregations are wanting.
I wonder if, rather than being the death of religious art-music, this conflict could actually bring about something new and worthy. After all, art music has been popular in the past. Why not in the future?
Before I end, I want to mention one practical item. I trust that many of you have been to our new website at www.hartfordago.org. One of its best features is the concert calendar, which we share with several other AGO chapters in our region. You may view the concert offerings in Worcester or Springfield, and they may view ours. But… we have to list our concerts in order for others to see them! Train yourself to put your concerts on the regional calendar. Its free and so easy that even I can do it! Under “Programs and Events” choose “Submit Regional Calendar Event.” This is a great advertising tool. Let’s use it!