As you may know, composer Lou Harrison was one of the founders of the Cabrillo Music Festival. Just now, I happened to be listening to his Piano Concerto, as played by Keith Jarrett. Then I just read this by composer Corey Dargel:
It's intriguing to hear Alsop speak about the necessity of providing experiential education for young conductors. I wish she had an equally wide-ranging vision for the music she programs at Cabrillo. Young composers like Mason Bates and Kevin Puts, and idiosyncratic established composers like Philip Glass and Lou Harrison, have appeared on Cabrillo's programs, but there is a remarkable lack of truly adventurous programming, especially in recent years. Alsop is in a position to change that, and she has the charisma to do so effectively.
He goes on to offer some concrete suggestions on how to accomplish this.
As a former Cabrillo festival subscriber who used to thoroughly enjoy the experience, I have to think through why I stopped going. Certainly, for a time in the nineties I lost interest in contemporary music but that has come roaring back this decade. It's also clearly inconvenient to drive "over the hill" to Santa Cruz so much although once there, the experience was always good even if the facilities weren't top-notch. It's also possible I've truly lost my taste for orchestral music. I'll know about that one better after my plan to listen this month to as much Bruckner as I can. Finally, I'm awash in recorded music and the means to listen to it wherever I am. While live performance may be closer to the "truth," it does compete for my attention with all those new tracks I'm eager to explore.
Despite all that, I do have to wonder if somehow, for me anyway, that the sense of musical adventure Cabrillo represented has been lost. I read the Ojai Music Festival brochure and it sounds truly exciting ("Percussion music! Ligeti's metronomes! Pierre-Laurent Aimard! Pierre-Laurent Aimard playing Ives!"; I read the Cabrillo brochure and it only sounds interesting, not compelling, even if it does have more contemporary music.
To be fair, here's the counter-argument from the Cabrillo website:
We can, however, assure you of a happening when five world premieres, one U.S. premiere, six west coast premieres and ten composers-in-residence come together with you, our audiences, July 30 through August 12. You can expect music that reflects the world around us––complete with emotion, intellect, angst and unbridled joy! Don’t miss a beat!
On Harrison's Piano Concerto: Given the invitation to write a concerto for the noted jazz and classical composer Keith Jarrett (who, like Harrison, has crossed musical boundaries throughout his career), Harrison suggested a work in which the piano would be "mistuned" to an earlier, pre-compromise system. "[This] Concerto," writes Harrison, "is an exploration of the many beauties of...this astonishing tuning."