contemporary classical music online
From an organisational perspective, contemporary classical music (hereafter New Music for brevity), is defined by high levels of institutional support and professionalisation. Web resources relating to New Music correspondingly form a pyramid scheme from the web pages of international organisations, through national music centres, music institutions and independent organisations, down to the websites of individual ensembles, composers and performers. In order to provide as comprehensive and pertinent a list as possible, I have included here key sites from the international to the independent local organisation levels through which you can access many thousands of other sites at the next step down. I hope to have included here a few resources at the national and state levels that have otherwise escaped the pyramid. Sound art and interdisciplinary encounters appear at the local level, rendering “contemporary classical music” a very useful fiction that, once examined in its local manifestations, blurs at the edges.
A second feature of New Music is a general respect for copyright. Combined with institutional organisation, the resulting online resources are often government or university-funded databases featuring lists of materials, composers and performers, not necessarily with digitised content. As such, someone looking to engage with this material is invited, after identifying a composer, ensemble or performer through one of these sources to chase up their individual website or social media to find out when and where a live concert is being given. For all the bureaucratisation, New Music tends to occur among local scenes, so I would like this portal to be not only a window onto online resources, but also a door into the local scenes themselves.
International Association of Music Information Centres
To start off with, possibly the most boringly designed classical music site ever created. But don’t be deceived! The International Association of Music Information Centres provides links to the national music centres of 35 countries, each of which contains profiles of composers, calendars of events, information on funding, job opportunities and sometimes even music criticism.
Another deceptively simple looking site that hosts a formidably comprehensive list of contemporary music-related links organised by continent and country. Not only does the site direct the reader towards the national music centres mentioned above, but also lists festivals, music publishers and sites relating to local copyright legislation. Some links appear to have been added a little haphazardly or to have died, but it appears otherwise well maintained. [Mac-users: it’s recommended to view this site with Firefox rather than Safari. Eds.]
Thomas Moore’s New Music Links
Maintained by American pianist and John Cage specialist Thomas Moore, this extensive catalogue picks up where Temp’óra leaves off, providing links to homepages of some 11,000 composers, performers and essayists.
national music centres
Australian Music Centre
The Australian Music Centre provides a comprehensive online archive of composer profiles and music samples, as well as pointing the reader towards hard copy resources and teaching materials. Beyond its vital roles as a repository for the history of classical music in Australia and a gateway for aspiring musicians, its online journal Resonate provides insightful articles on current musical projects. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed of upcoming events sorted by state.
Contemporary Music Portal
The databases of France’s peak cultural institutions provide some of the most comprehensive online catalogues of New Music resources in the world. The Contemporary Music Portal allows you to search 32 key databases at once, kind of like the National Library of Australia’s incredible Trove search engine but just for contemporary music. This site also contains an interactive lexicon of New Music terminology, institutions, ensembles and key figures.
American Music Center
The American Music Center is notable for the sheer volume of material available. Its online magazine NewMusicBox features lively opinion pieces and interviews with contemporary American composers.
Sound and Music
England’s contemporary classical/sound art organisation Sound and Music is worth a mention just because it looks so good. It also features informative podcasts and articles in its Ear Room online magazine.
New Music Network
The New Music Network’s site should be the first port of call for New Music concertgoers, featuring a vital list of events and links to the sites of members. The organisation convenes performances with Australia’s foremost contemporary classical organisations and ensembles, keeping the concert calendar bristling with innovative musical events.
Music Council of Australia's Music Forum
Largely concerned with music education, the online magazine Music Forum often includes opinion pieces, reviews and news about New Music in Australia.
Music Australia is an initiative of the National Library of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive to provide access to not only scores and recordings, but also ephemera and video material concerning music in Australia. Good for interested persons who want to see current musical practice in its historical context.
NMA (New Music Articles)
If you are interested in the intellectual history of New Music in Australia, Rainer Linz’s archive of the New Music Articles magazine is an important document of the period 1982–92.
New Music Up Late with Julian Day
Fortunately you don’t have to stay up late to hear Julian Day’s radio program dedicated to New Music, you can listen to it online whenever you like. Not that the 10:30pm–12:30pm Friday and Saturday time slots are all that late. Perhaps the show would better be called “a little past bed time with Julian Day” or “supper’s really gotten away from you with Julian Day.” Anyway, enjoy.
The Music Show
Before Alex Ross there was Andrew Ford, whose recently re-issued book Illegal Harmonies was my first portal into contemporary classical music. His 10am Saturday morning Music Show often features interviews and music by contemporary classical composers and performers from Australia and abroad.
RealTime has faithfully tracked New Music since the magazine's inception in 1994. Numerous articles and reviews about Australian and other New Musics are available on the website from 2001 to the present, including CD reviews in Earbash.
The following organisations and festivals represent composers in their respective states and sometimes further afield. See their websites for upcoming concerts.
The Firm (SA)
Soundstream Festival (SA)
Sounding Out Composers' Collective (QLD)
Chronology Arts (NSW)
Melbourne Composers’ League (VIC)
Tura New Music (WA)
Photo: Ensemble Offspring, Professor Bad Trip; photo Oliver Miller - see review RT104