March 29, 2004 Vol. VIII, No. 13

CSUN music professors Daniel Kessner (left) and Liviu Marinescu will host April composers' conference. Not shown is music professor Dan Hosken, co-host.

Composers to Converge on Northridge in April

Event is Huge in World of U.S. Composers; Allows New Contemporary Classical Music to be Heard

In the world of contemporary classical music, Daniel Kessner, Liviu Marinescu and Dan Hosken are the men of the hour. The three award-winning Cal State Northridge composer/professors are the hardworking hosts of one of the genre's most important stages: the April 16–18 regional conference of the Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI).

If he were writing today, Mozart himself would be there, sheet music in hand, trying to get his work in front of the public. Patrons like those who sponsored 18th Century artists are rare in today's musical world, Kessner explained, as are orchestras to play the works of contemporary composers.

"In Mozart's day," Kessner said, "orchestras played the music of their own times. Today, fewer and fewer are playing contemporary works; they are playing the music of centuries past. Universities and music schools have taken up the slack and have become the center of contemporary music in the United States."

The works of composers from all across the country will be performed at the prestigious three-day series of Northridge recital hall concerts, last hosted by the university in the mid-1970s.

"There are a number of very different stylistic trends in music going on in the country today," he noted. "We tried to make room for all of the prominent styles, to assure a great deal of variety in the program."

The program promises some musical fireworks, Kessner said, including one composition whose live performer will use a computer interactive program. Electric acoustic works and ensemble pieces for voice and instruments also will be heard.

Composition titles range from the provocative "Stick Your Head in the Dryer" by UC Berkeley graduate student Hubert Ho and Hosken's "Wild Child" for flute and clarinet, to "Rash Excitement," a piece for solo saxophone by Kansas City composer William Lackey.

Cal State Northridge is a member of SCI's Region VII--including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Hawaii--but will feature works from composers nationwide, including a solo violin piece by William Toutant, dean of the College of Arts, Media, and Communication.

"When we put out a call for musical scores some months ago," said Kessner, "we received no fewer than 110!"

The difficult task of choosing which 30 pieces will be performed—before audiences filled with music aficionados, students and the composers themselves—fell to Marinescu, Hosken and Kessner.

The three reviewed all 110 compositions, selected those they considered the strongest and decided which could most realistically be performed at the recital hall concerts. "In some cases," Kessner explained, "composers play their own pieces or bring their own performers. The rest require that we find faculty and student performers."

@csun | March 29, 2004 issue
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