Halas.am : HolonArtLabAudioService AM
Halas_Radio on 06/14/2009 at 01:41PM
The idea of producing shows for radio came up quite spontaneously, when my friend and colleague Dani Meir offered me a card-blanche to bring myself, and my tastes forward through slots in the newly founded Internet radio Halas, which he co-manages.
Previewing Halas for the first time, I recognized a podium that I could use in any way I felt appropriate, as it was completely non-commercial, publicly funded educational radio. More so, most shows produced by others for Halas shared my ideal for shedding light on the extremes of a specific musical genre or topic. Like all radio stations I enjoyed listening to in the past, Halas too managed to be a mouth for an under-represented, non-mainstream collective.
A composer myself, having passed through many “front-doors” of the music world, it had slowly dawned on me that trying to be new, extreme, and yet responsible for the musical art I hold so dear, is a task much opposed from within the music world, as it is outside its realms.
I think that in my short musical career I have received scorn for both my music and ideas from critics, teachers, colleagues, friends, foes, musicians and non-musicians alike. Needless to mention audiences!
What started as a naive quest for self-expression in my early teens, was hence slowly becoming a religious one: proving to the world that yes, there were people out there who enjoy a saw-wave finely shaped into a piece as much as they do a Mozart minuet. Furthermore, that experimental avant-garde is not to be perceived as a slap in the face to those who clearly don't like it, or all past music, but rather a solemn hymn to contemporary culture and hence immediately, to similar cultures of the past.
Accumulating reactions to my musical efforts, it became clear that those, to whom this genre of music was alien and indeed not understood, would never present themselves purely as such, but always as an opposition to such efforts, as if these represented anti-culture, anti-music or bad judgment on behalf of all taking part. Of course, the latter’s arguments always backed up by use of keywords such as audience-taste, the public vs. private domain or technique. Sometimes science is brought in as rhetoric aid and as if not sufficient, God is kept as a last resort. Taste is never an issue. There is always a right or wrong way to present music to any audience. And this includes all six billion of us, yes?
And how can I go in each of these frequent conversations, into my personal past as a young teenage musician, adoring Brhams, hating Stockhausen (which I still mostly do); one day realizing quite organically that Brhams, Mahler, Ravel and all their remakes still very prevalent in modern music, just don't stimulate me the way they used to? The many Thomas Ades’s who once took me on profound journeys into myself, now sounded like mere technical copycats. Hearing other such derivative music by contemporaries, who claimed always to write so in respect of their own tastes veering towards the past, made me feel ever removed from this same past music I used to love so. Ravel's "La Valse" suddenly sounded more farcical than intended; Brhams's 1st Piano concerto like a failed harmony exercise; Mahler's symphonies like an orchestration manual; Stravinksy’s "Symphony of Psalms", all so used and bastardized. My beloved music of the past, so modern for its time, constantly on the edge, was now pushed over that edge by composers claiming to love and understand it better than anyone else.
And hence, just before the latter dawned on me was probably the last time I naively enjoyed Romantic music. I still do appreciate it, but not all of it in the same way. Interestingly, it’s only Chopin’s music that makes me feel 15 again. Long story short: within a while I too became one of those experimenters treating music as if he were working in a lab. But before that, I found myself enjoying others' experiments. The further others went in their attempts, the better captivated I remained. Exhilaration that I only knew listening to pieces such as "Rhapsody in Blue" or "Poem of Ecstasy", suddenly reappeared whilst listening to "Coptic Light" or some good ol’ Ives' mess unto then, never fully understood by me. You can try and imagine my own surprise at the time!And unto this day, my own compositions I hold dearest are still the ones where I’ve attempted things, not altogether sure what their outcome will be. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they clearly didn’t, but I have already made certain I won’t leave this life not having tried.
Funnily enough, since my little switch, all I see when I leaf through a Beethoven symphony or even a Bach choral, are the experiments we today take for granted. I mean, can you imagine the first impact of a known hymn, suddenly wildly harmonized? If that’s not an experiment (that worked!), I don’t know what is?
And therefore, tired of pointless subjective arguments I decided to use the podium given me by Dani, Halas and the FMA as an opening for many people who might feel as I do. Instead of trying to convince the world that I knew best what contemporary music was all about (which I clearly don’t), I thought I might share what I could with those who have a true need for it. I was glad to find that there were more than a few of you out there.
This in a nutshell, is what An Hour and I are all about. If what I write above resonates in you, by all means contact me! We’re all in need of new friends and constant new stimulations.
Ophir Ilzetzki HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" email@example.com