Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
In Silver Spring, a cellist plays in duo with electric guitar, their music wrapped in an envelope of reverb and static from the computer processors onstage. In Baltimore, a saxophone and bass clarinet perform acoustic compositions by acclaimed 20th-century composers in tandem with new electronic pieces by younger ones, interspersed with a live contribution from a DJ. And in Washington, a composer who wants to form a new-music group turns, not to conservatories, but to Craigslist.
Classical music is thought of as a world of formal wear, red velvet seats and Mozart concertos. But young classical musicians here and elsewhere are increasingly exploring additional ways to express themselves. Once upon a time, young conservatory musicians wanted to grow up to play as soloists with major orchestras. Today, many of them are forming bands instead.
The ensembles of the new alt-classical world are poised somewhere within the Venn-diagram intersection of traditional classical music and contemporary culture. It's hard to define exactly what kind of music they play.
"It always seems to be so many adjectives," says Gina Biver, a Washington composer and founder of the Fuse Ensemble. "You just say contemporary art music or modern art music; that's close. We have scores written out. All our musicians are classically trained. We have cellos and contrabass, but I also play electric guitar."
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