Composition

gottschalk arthurArthur Gottschalk, Rice University
CMS Board Member for Composition

The past year started out prosaically enough. In 2013, pursuant to a directive from the outgoing board president, I selected a student member to serve on both the Composition Advisory Board, and another to serve on the Publications Committee. I found terrific students that were capable of making real contributions to both areas, had them join The College Music Society, and then submitted their names to CMS. As of the end of the past year, my last year as Board Member for Composition, neither of them had ever been contacted by anyone at CMS other than myself, despite my having checked into the situation more than once. I did, however, and at my own expense, have the student serving on the Composition Advisory Board (Garrett Schumann) attend the 2013 National Conference, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he proved invaluable in his assistance with the concerts and was able to accomplish some extraordinary and valuable networking. We also took a wee bit of time from the program to visit and dine with the conference keynote speaker, Joan Tower, and with nearby composer and Pulitzer winner Yehudi Wyner, an excellent opportunity for a young composer that only a vibrant and ecumenical society such as CMS might provide.

Also pursuant to a directive from the previous and current board president, in 2013, I continued to make efforts in creating synergy with a professional organization outside CMS but within my field. To those ends, I had held meetings with the leadership, and membership, of the Society of Composers, Inc. From those meetings emerged the appointment of the ex-president of SCI to become a liaison to CMS. Plans were developed that would utilize the expertise and resources of SCI to help produce the composer concerts for the CMS national conferences, starting with the 2014 conference. Performers from SCI-affiliated colleges in the area were located by the new liaison, and a Call for Scores issued by CMS that reflected the resources made available through the new SCI relationship. Performers and equipment were provided to CMS at no cost; the SCI-affiliated institutions bore all travel and lodging expenses. This would not only save CMS much-needed money, but also place the burden of many of the heavier logistics outside the resources of CMS as well; the system would also greatly increase the level of performance available to CMS composers. Let it be noted, also, that an important part of the plan was to increase composer membership in CMS. This, however, was found to be unworkable by the CMS staff.

The national Composition Advisory Board (Edmund Cionek, Leslie Hogan, Malcolm Solomon, and Amy Dunker) and myself spent many hours over the Winter break evaluating the many scores that were submitted on behalf of the 2014 Call, and finally made our rankings and recommendations. These works were to be forwarded to the performance entities that had committed to the 2014 conference. Late in the process, however, the National Program Committee met, and to my surprise became heavily involved, changing the number of concerts allocated to the conference, and participating in the selection process as well. By the time division of responsibilities issues were settled, more or less, the performers who had committed to the conference, courtesy of SCI, had become a bit confused and unsettled. Nonetheless, due primarily to the hard work and generosity of Eric Honour (University of Central Missouri) and Thomas Wells (The Ohio State University), it is my understanding that the composer concerts were successful, as was the national conference as a whole. Due to deaths and illness in my family, I was unable to attend.

Lastly, during 2014, I was asked to be a part of a group of CMS Board Members who visited Havana, Cuba, in March, to gauge its viability as a possible site for an international conference, particularly in light of the CMS Latin American Initiatives program. We did so, and had a delightful time in a city where music making is of universal and paramount importance, and the level of music making is of the highest found in the world today.