Interview with Paul Bowman, first part
Interview with Paul Bowman, second part
I have, sometimes, the feeling that in our times music’s history flows without a particular interest in its chronological course, in our discoteque before and after, past and future become interchangeable elements, shall this be a risk of a uniform vision for an interpreter and a composer? The risk of a musical "globalization"?
I have no idea what trends are prevalent in today’s new music scene. There was, according to musicologist Joseph Strauss, the illusion that serial music dominated the academic scene in the U.S. in the 1950’s and 1960’s. However, the majority of composers at that time were writing tonal music. So now with the infusion of rock and rap, I guess it’s anything goes. So how can one with authority discount this new style, except if you’re an established composer from an earlier time/style who can see the folly in it. But composers now have it really difficult to find a way to distinguish themselves and make a big name for themselves. It’s sort of like in Germany with the opera art form being dominated by “Regietheater” - directors taking enormous liberties with an opera story plot to fit their vision, which is often at odds with audiences.
Let’s talk about marketing. How much do you think it’s important for a modern musician? I mean: how much is crucial to be good promoters of themselves and their works in music today?
Though improvisers may have more performing opportunities in clubs and other “non traditional” concert spaces - and someone can make a career playing the electric guitar with this type of music - the new-music classical guitarist has to be creative in finding performing opportunities. The guitar societies unfortunately have a museum mind-set. So do the guitar festivals. And most other instrumentalist’s still don’t think the guitar is a serious enough instrument. So I rely on contacts with composers and institutions for my performing concerts. There are some managers/agents, but most of the real legwork is done by the artist.
What do you think about the discographic market crisis, with the transition to digital downloading in mp3 and all this new scenario?
It’s human nature to download things illegally, just like it is human nature to have university students plagiarize their papers and research - items they find on the web all because of the availability that the internet affords. This has unfortunately tainted research so that no real research happens. It used to be also that the waiting for a recording to come into a store would heighten ones expectations and one would value that recording more.
Please tell us five essential records, to have always with you .. the classic five discs for the desert island ...
“400 Years of Classical Guitar” by Arlirio Diaz; any of Segovia’s recordings from the 1920’s and 30’s; “Selling England by the Pound” by Genesis; “Tales from Topographic Oceans” by Yes; my 12 C.D. box set.
What are your five favorite scores?
Le Marteau sans Maître by Pierre Boulez, Piano Preludes by G. Ligeti; Kurz Schatten II by Brian Ferneyhough; Changes by Elliott Carter and Sequenza XI per chitarra sola by Luciano Berio.
With who would you like to play? What kind of music do you listen to usually?
I would like to play with the JACK String Quartet – I think these young guys are tremendous in what they are doing for New Music. I think as long as Boulez is conducting, it would be a great experience to work with Ensemble Intercontemporain, as well as collaborate with the composers at IRCAM. As far as what music I hear, it’s very difficult for me to just engage in “casual” listening. I enjoy the silence of nature from where I live! I also had one of the most profound experiences in silence while performing in the premiere concert of the new Conrad Prebys Concert Hall at U.C. San Diego. The acoustician was Dr. Cyril Harris.
Your next projects? When we will see you playing in Italy?
As I mentioned, I am performing with flutist Harvey Sollberger in February. After that, I will be working on a solo program of transcriptions. Specifically, there is an excellent transcription of Brahms’ Hungarian Folk Dances, as well as transcriptions of Janacek piano pieces. An interesting piece to look at is the fugue from Haydn’s Creation. I would like to learn all the music really well and record this program by the end of this year (2011). In the meantime, living here on many acres in the rural mountains of western North Carolina, I will be a gentleman farmer for at least a year or two – do my projects, as well as to write and defend my dissertation. I would love to have my box set published. There are separate pieces that are published on different labels. However, every one knows it is enormously difficult these days to publish a C.D. project. On my website, one can listen to some great pieces - (www.paul-classicalguitarist.com). As far as teaching, I would be happy to be a guitar professor nearby and not have to move from my pristine, idyllic location! As for Italy, Mr. Tallini mentioned about inviting me to perform at a guitar festival in Rome that he was organizing, but I never heard back from him. I would like to return to Italy, as the musical life is wondrous!
A last question …. the Blog is read by several students .. any good advices to give them?
Find your voice and follow through with your convictions.
This is really the last question .. which is more a reflection: Luigi Nono said "Other thoughts, other noises, other sounds, other ideas. When we listen to, we often try to find ourselves in others. To find our mechanisms, system, rationalism, in the other. And this is a quite conservative violence. "... Now .. does experimentation free ourselves from the burden of having to remember?
Thank you very much, Paul!