A N N A   C L Y N E

Composer + Curator

New York City


Photography by Phil Knott

Photography by Phil Knott

I. We seek wisdom and guidance from others in challenging times. A common challenge for artists is writer's block. As a composer, when you are commissioned to write a new work, you are presented with three parameters – duration, instrumentation and a deadline. Sometimes the deadline is fast approaching, but inspiration hasn’t materialized. At such times, we can turn to our mentors, or to scores of the great composers from centuries past – to learn from their wisdom. And so a thread is passed between generations – a lineage of sorts. A personal example of this occurred last year when I was writing a new large-scale work, for which I attempted many different openings – all different, but none of them were sticking. During this time, I was fortunate to meet a composer whom I respect greatly. I was still experiencing writer’s block, and the pressure of a looming deadline, and so I reached out for some advice regarding writer’s block. His letter, in response, was full of wisdom – “Again and again you have to want to learn to walk again. Like a child. Step by step. And you always have to start with yourself...it is the right road, it is the beautiful road, it is life.” Having reflected on his true and poetic words, I returned to the piece with a new perspective and it unraveled naturally and relatively quickly. I met the deadline and I’m thankful for his wisdom during the process.

II. I am passionate about collaborating with artists from other fields – be they visual artists, filmmakers, or choreographers. I find inspiration in both their work and in the dialogue that unfolds in a collaborative artistic relationship. Through collaboration, I am able to develop ideas with another, and to see my own work through a new lens.

III. Now is an incredibly exciting time to be creating music - different genres of music have been smashed open as artists explore new approaches to their craft, and as ensembles are more creative with programming, and risk-taking with younger composers. Technology has also had a massive impact on the creation of today’s music, whether it be through the internet, working with notation and sound-editing software or the creation of new instruments. At the touch of a button, you can hear music from anywhere in the world. Technology drives the presentation of, and our exposure to music within an internet-driven platform for interaction.

IV. Organizations that are exploring new directions are reinvigorating the more traditional classical music world. The American Composers Orchestra is encouraging composers to let their imaginations run wild with the Playing it UNsafe program that invites composers to submit ideas for new innovative works. This was an opportunity that I was fortunate to have in 2008 when I proposed and composed a double laptop concerto for live visuals, live electronics and orchestra in collaboration with a visualist and an electronic musician. Adventurous programming, and not being afraid to program contemporary fresh work is also vital. A wonderful example is the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, which is dedicated to contemporary symphonic music by living composers.

V. We need to talk more about keeping a fluid dialogue between those driving the business and the artists themselves. Artists should know their rights, opportunities and most importantly, how they can share their work with a wider audience.

VI. I am for creating more opportunities for young and emerging artists to meet and receive advice from those in the business – from publishers to presenters. This should be an integral part to any music education – from community colleges to conservatoires.