Syracuse Post
Melinda Johnson
July 20, 2009

The news sounds like a broken record: No one is buying CDs. Au contraire. Those who appreciate contemporary classical music are spending their money on new recordings, released by several independent labels. And, the dedicated owners of these CD indies are inundated with submissions from composers and performers.

Music writer Joseph Dalton surveys the contemporary classical music scene in an online piece.

Neva Pilgrim, a co-founder of the Society for New Music, took time from her busy schedule assisting with Cazenovia Counterpoint to comment on the article. Here’s what she had to say:

Joseph Dalton is to be commended for his article on the recording industry, which was comprehensive and well researched. While big names may not be getting rich off CD sales, several up-and-coming composers and performers are making some money on CD sales and iTune downloads, at least among my friends.

CD companies are important, especially when they represent a constituency, whether it is stylistic or regional. That’s possibly one reason Bridge and Cedille are holding their own. Innova and BMOP present a wide variety of more experimental composers, music that expands boundaries. Innova in particular takes risks and the successes can be quite exciting. North/South Consonance fills another niche, as does Albany. It’s important to present a variety of styles, since not everyone has the same taste in music, new or otherwise.

As the producer of “Fresh Ink,” a new music program for WCNY-FM, I find that CDs are an efficient way to get the music on the radio, because one can listen anywhere in choosing music for these programs and the quality of sound is excellent. In addition, the liner notes are invaluable in providing context for both the music and composer, since many of these composers are relatively young and unknown. Having this information is an important tool for broadcasters wishing to expand the listening audience for all classical music, but especially for new music. And if new audiences aren’t constantly developed, classical music will become more ghettoized.

Undoubtedly, as Becky Starobin noted, the move is toward downloads, but quality of sound is a problem. And for all those who love music, quality of sound is crucial. The closer the sound is to a live concert, the better. After all, isn’t the ultimate listening experience to feel first-hand the vibrations of transcendent music in a good acoustic environment, no matter when that music was written?