I recently returned from one of the best experiences of my life. New Music on the Point was a two week festival in cabins on the side of Lake Dunmore, VT from June 1-14. I have attended several contemporary classical music festivals and this one should be the model for all others. There is no way to fully describe the simultaneous craziness and educational value of NMOP, but I am going to try.
I had private lessons with Juraj Kojs, Robert Morris, and Jim Mobberley, who each had unique perspectives on my work and on music in general. Amy Williams is the festival director and gives composition lessons, but I did not work with her. I have come away with some fantastic ideas after this festival after working privately with each of these composers. I also presented in masterclasses with Marcos Balter and Christopher Cerrone. Chris’ comments were helpful, especially for my vocal writing. Marcos’ master class was wild. This man can see into your soul when listening to your music. He had a full psychological profile for you in his mind by hearing your compositions. I don’t know how he does it. His ideas are fascinating and his personality is huge. These master classes occurred during the afternoon and mornings.
The performers at NMOP were unbelievable. Every one of them. I saw incredible performances that I will never forget. The JACK Quartet and members of American Modern Ensemble were resident performers and teachers. Members of both groups perform in and coach the pieces that composers write for the festival. The best thing about NMOP, in my opinion, is the lack of barrier between performers and composers. At other festivals that I have attended, there has been a clear separation between performers and composers. The composers show up, get one rehearsal with performers, hear their piece, and the performers are gone. At NMOP, both performers and composers were there for the full two weeks as students. We ate together, slept together (in bunks), and spent nights around the campfire together. Projects were formed, ideas were shared, and collaborations happened because performers and composers got to be together for two weeks in close quarters. This made for better performances and, even more important, more enjoyable and less tense experiences at concerts.
The nights got crazy in ways that you just need to experience personally. The first Saturday was dance party night. There was seemingly very little interest leading up to the party but it was live when it happened. The following Sunday was a day off with hikes planned. I hiked to a small mountain peak where I could see the entirety of Lake Dunmore with beautiful mountains in the background. We also found a stray dog in the woods, which was really sad to see, and we walked it to a nearby state park. So at least we got it some help. We called her Hildegarde.
I am truly excited to listen to music and compose after this festival. I was feeling a personal lull and tired of contemporary classical trends, but this festival has reinvigorated me. I highly encourage any and all composers and performers to apply for next year. Jenny Beck and Amy Williams do an incredible job running this festival. The website is here: http://newmusiconthepoint.com/