New Music

It seems to have become fashionable for conductors to proclaim their support and advocacy for new music. A premiere can be exciting for players, audiences, and ensemble organizations. But, building new pieces into the repertoire of an ensemble requires more than throwing an exciting gala event. Older pieces have the benefit of hundreds and thousands of performances behind them so that only rarely does an orchestra approach the piece for the first time. With newer music, a conductor must in some sense teach the piece to the orchestra. As an avid educator, Jaemi enjoys this sometimes complicated and messy process. Jaemi is committed to that learning process, even when the result is not a news-making premiere, but rather a fifth or tenth performance of a piece with real merit that she believes an audience will enjoy. While the great masterworks of the western art music tradition are beloved with good reason, the art of music must keep moving forward in order to continue to wield its unique power of deep human expression. The work of bringing out the revolutionary nature in the music of Beethoven or Stravinsky is an exciting challenge for Jaemi, but she believes that aesthetic revolution must be an ongoing process and ignoring music that pushes boundaries is a grievous error.

New or recent music is too often and too easily walled off into a niche separate from “standard” repertoire, labeling those who perform it as specialists only. Jaemi jumps at any chance to work with a living composer or perform a piece that was written in the recent past. Her general love of technology and trying new things leads her to embrace opportunities to expand the symphonic sound palette with electronics, extended techniques, etc. But, that doesn’t mean she isn’t equally interested in or comfortable performing works by Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, and the other dead white men of the musical pantheon. Like most young musicians, Jaemi has grown up in a world where a dizzying array of music has always been easily available to her. She grew up equally enthralled by Brahms, Gilbert and Sullivan, Indigo Girls, Blood Sweat and Tears, sea chanties, and Neil Diamond. As a member of both bands and orchestras since age 9, she has had consistent experience with new music for most of her life, since band repertoire tends to be more rooted in the 20th century and open to contributions by living composers. Jaemi’s eclectic tastes help her to recognize that what diverse types of music have in common is more important than how they differ. Great music begins with the ability to speak to listeners in a very deep and emotional way, no matter the style or genre.