Erberk Eryilmaz: Can Contemporary Music be Beautiful? 

Erberk Eryilmaz, left, performs with the Apollo Chamber Players [Photo credit: Lynn Lane]

Some people shutter when they think about contemporary classical music.  Some even consider it a form of punishment.  Not long ago, a joke was going around France about a new law that would make parking offenders think twice: in lieu of cash fines, errant parkers would be forced to listen to Pierre Boulez’ music for ten minutes.  The strangely dissonant classical music of the Second Viennese School – meaning the early 20th-century music of Schönberg, Berg and Webern – was lionized by Boulez and other post-War classical music reactionaries in a way that only the School’s founders could appreciate: the disciples publicly repudiated the School’s music as not radical enough.  Any music that allowed even a single repetition of a musical expression (such as repeated rhythms, melody-forming pitches or larger musical sections) would resemble classical music and lose all relevance to music modernity.  That radical view reflects the era in which it was formed: the 1950s and 1960s.  Huge infrastructure investment was being made all over the Western world and a break with the past was probably welcomed in a Europe decimated by two World Wars.  Moreover, the same citizens who would have stared in awe at those never-before-seen wonders of architecture and mobility were constantly inundated with news that it would all be instantly vaporized by a single nuclear missile.  Today, globalization and the positive life outlook of citizens has led world leaders to consider total war nonsensical (the global reaction to Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine – as well as the Kremlin’s choice to keep the conflict limited – being a case in point) because prosperous peace and cooperation are the names of the game.  Today’s contemporary classical music reflects those values most prominently in the instruments and musical vocabularies it incorporates, both of which are sourced from every corner of the globe.  No one knows that globalization of Western contemporary classical music better than the composer Erberk Eryilmaz.  Erberk is a contemporary Turkish composer who earned a doctorate in Western classical music from one of the West’s most elite conservatories.  His music mixes East and West, classical and contemporary, and calls for an orchestra that is as diverse and rich as the world itself.  Come welcome Erberk to our show and let’s ask him if beauty is an attribute of today’s music modernity.

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