Introduction

Exposition of New Music 2015
10. – 14. june 2015

WALKING THROUGH MUSIC

Careful listening is more important than making sounds happen.
(Alvin Lucier)

Music is a living organism. It won’t do just to take it out of the cupboard every once in a while, dust it off, put in on the table and expect something to happen. Music expects our participation; it awaits its listener. It should be a free creation, an author’s voice through which abstract visions of greater and lesser truths materialized in sound structures are offered to us; a creation which begs to be listened to, not only heard. It is simple and complicated, depressing and joyful; it is omnipresent. Society constantly changes and so does its artistic image. Music allows us to reflect upon the changes and certainties, the greater and lesser truths, the banalities and traumas which confront us daily, and it does so not in a straightforward and easily accessible form, but in the highest form of abstraction peculiar solely to human culture. In short: where words stop, music begins…
But can the outcome of any compositional process be static, or is it only the record that is static? And can the graphical record, which is created before the actual sound structure, truly be the end of this compositional process, its capturing and conservation? And is music then a living organism, or merely a museum artefact that we occasionally pull out of a cupboard?
Looking at the matter from the perspective of a score, there is apparently no doubt that the writing down of music is a record of fleeting tones for future generations, striving for the most perfect capture possible of a sound structure so that it might be realised again. It is a record requiring authentic, informed interpretation, based on study and a seeming understanding of a fictional notion of the aural space of
a historic period. Yet precisely at that point the score, the graphical record, ceases to be merely a record made for future generations, and becomes rather a mnemonic device. A conventional system of signs replaces letters, words and sentences for us; it is a description, a story, a wordplay; it is a note for staging and direction; it is everything but the message itself. We have solid points of reference, but much that is important remains between the lines, unrecordable and apparently devoid of personal experience, lacking the presence of the composer and his corrections, and ultimately unavailable for interpretation. Even an audio recording can be misleading, and indeed a slavish imitation of “ideal” interpreters, the futile search for perfection in older recordings or concert performances, reduces the art of musical performance to
a “mere” reproduction. A graphical record might be old but music only sounds in the here and now. Sentimentality and nostalgia threaten to turn
a viable historic work into a museum relic. A simple idea suggests itself: a score might be an instruction manual, a set of directions. Contemporary music would then be bound up with its composer, but historical music has survived its composer and begs to be newly interpreted, perhaps inauthentically, with other ideals in mind. Many works await their ideal performers so that they might enter the contemporary world, but many will remain solely a record, a testimony to the age of their creation, destined for reading and interpretation in the domain of history and not of music. Considering that the reading and writing of music is much rarer than the reading of alphabetical characters, it occurs to us that for many music on paper provides a merely visual experience.
This year’s Exposition of New Music is ready for listeners who are seeking fleeting sounds, who wish to place confidence in free expression without pigeon-holing, who are capable of accepting silence and truly listening to what is made for them. Last but not least, the festival welcomes those who like to walk around…

Viktor Pantůček, programmer of the festival

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Under the auspices
of Daniel Herman,
Minister of Culture
of the Czech Republic
Petr Vokřál,
Mayor of Statutory
City of Brno

Martin Landa,
Mayor of Central Brno district