Within the musical landscape, we believe that music training, particularly for conductors and composers, is inconsistent and ad-hoc. That students are not learning to be deep listeners, thinkers or musical participants. That our culture is too often overly focused on surface and style. That our musical “voice,” be it as composers, conductors or performers, is too often reduced simply to who or what an individual may sound like.
We embrace our unique heritage as American musicians and composers. At the same time, we do not judge any individual based on whom he/she studied with. We are certain that master musicians are produced only through close collaboration with a skillful and caring master teacher.
We acknowledge where we came from and where our music and philosophy are heading. That Western Music has its roots in Europe – specifically Germany and France. We identify Nadia Boulanger as a catalyst for the evolution of music into the twentieth century. Her work as a pedagogue formalized and demonstrated the power of a heightened awareness of musical elements to elevate our writing and our performance. This level of awareness is accessed by a specific method that we continue to evolve and refine.
Key to understanding our challenge is the question: Why is rigorous and comprehensive training not mandatory for composers, conductors and performers when it is standard in other fields? Just as a medical doctor must graduate through many levels of certifications, so should musicians demand of themselves equal responsibility in their training.
The twentieth century has proven that modernism for its own sake will not connect with audiences in an enduring way. Arnold Schoenberg, along with other modernists, predicted early in the twentieth century that “100 years from now they will understand modernism.” The predictions were wrong. There has been a return to the sense that some traditional connections are essential in order for new music to be viable today. Though the press and an ever-dwindling intelligentsia try still to maintain an a priori value of music based on novelty and “avant-gardism,” the majority of those who love music, be they performers, composers or concert-goers, are not taken with musical gimmick. They go for something that is eternal in a new way.
Therefore the challenge that informs all of our work is this question: How can we rejuvenate, revitalize and reconnect with contemporary classical music today?
From our American perspective, we acknowledge the challenges that stem from our national fascination with the new, the innovative and the unique. While these preoccupations are part of our identity and have contributed to the American aesthetic, they can hinder a young musician’s training.
Our philosophy is not culture-centric it is method-centric; meaning that we believe in the potential uniqueness of each musician’s voice. While our culture and circumstances will always permeate our work, we cannot segregate “schools of training” into cultural paradigms. Through a unique approach to contrapuntal principles, we observe the inherent function of sound across musical works and performances, formalize those functions and offer a method of analysis that forms the bedrock for musical decision-making. Whether that be conducting a Brahms symphony or writing your own music, this method transcends culture, aesthetic and time. It offers a set of eternal keys to the world of music.