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The mission of the ACDA is to inspire excellence in choral music through education, performance, composition, and advocacy.

60x60 Project, Rob Voisey and Vox Novus

I have been working on finding people and projects that might be inerested in or of interest to our community.  I found Rob and his 60x60 project and asked him for more info.  This guy is an innovator and has a lot to say about promoting new music.  His projects could involve our members.  Here is his reply to my inquiry:
Hi Jack,
I started 60x60 in 2003 with the driving idea to promote the great wealth of music written by a diverse set of composers.   Specifically designed for electronic music and "Tape" concerts, I wanted to create a concert format which was interesting to audiences.  Long story short, I designed 60x60 to be 60 one-minute works by 60 different composers to be performed back to back for an entire hour.  The concert was synchronized to an analog clock so while the music was playing the audience can watch the clock as the listen to their place inside the minute and within the hour. 
60x60 encourages composers by giving them an opportunity to get heard by large numbers of audiences.   It is only one-minute of recorded music so it is relatively easy to create a piece for 60x60.  It can be a singular idea or a fully formed work.  It can be a signature piece of their aesthetic or it can be a compositional experiment.  Anything goes as long as it is recorded in stereo and is 60 seconds or less in length.  On average we receive about 700 submissions a year.  Because we have more than one 60x60 mix representing different regions or themes we present more than 60 composers.   We have promoted more than 2 thousand composers in over 30 countries.  Our acceptance rate for composer who submit is about 40%.  And on average a composer's work will get performed twice somewhere throughout the world and some works have received more than 40 performances.
60x60 is easy to present and can be done almost anywhere.  Since the project is so "cheap" to do it can be presented basically by almost anyone.  We try to reach out to any audience in any venue in any format.  Since the project is so unique, we tend to attract the curious audience.  One of our tag lines is: "if you don't like what is playing that minute, just wait... a different piece will be playing in less than that."  60x60 gives audiences the "permission" not to like everything they hear. Since it is in such short bursts where they know exactly what is going on, they listen! even if  it is something they don't like.   Most audiences tend to write notes about the pieces to ask questions later.  About 50% or more of the audience are non-academic or musicians as well. 
I think that it is easy to do the same type of projects.  Get an idea and roll with it.  Share your idea with as many people as possible.  I think coming up with ideas is easy, it is just getting it out there which is a bunch of hard work.  What you are doing with ChoralNet is great!  Get composers and musicians engaged to constructively put forth new music is fantastic.
Of course you can be involved with 60x60!  We are about to put out a new call for works for our 11th season.   So there is a lot of different things to be involved with.  The easiest is just to promote the call and get as many composers to participate.  Once the call is finished, participate in the many activates and support the performances.   It is the simplest best way to help the project.  Of course there is much more that you can be a part.  There is always presenting one of the 60x60 mixes.  Presenting 60x60 is easy all you need is a venue with stereo playback and an analog clock.  At the time of the concert hit play when the second hand reaches the top of the hour.  A great way to show a local audience a sample of what is happening in the world of new music.  If you want to get more involved you can help create your own 60x60 mix or do a multimedia collaboration.  This starts to get more involved, but the effort is always worth the results.   We have done a voice mix in the past which might be something you are interested in.
With all of this said, keep in mind there are some other projects at Vox Novus which might interest you too.  60x60 is a champion for electronic music as Fifteen-Minutes-of-Fame is a champion for chamber music.
Let me know what you think.
and then there is Composer's Voice which Greg Bartholomew can attest to:
Plus a few other things. :)
Let's collaborate together Jack!  I love what you are doing!  It takes a community to grow and you guys are definitely doing it.
Talk to you soon,
Replies (8): Threaded | Chronological
on April 8, 2014 2:41am
This sounds interesting, especially if there is a way for choral composers to get involved– with choral music.
I am uncertain, though, about the term 'new music'. Could you help me out please? The term 'New Music' is used in some academic and avant-garde circles to denote innovative, avant-garde music. But it is used in many other circles (such as ChoralNet generally) to mean music that has been recently written.
In which sense is it being used in 60 x 60, and in the other forums that are mentioned? Reference to examples of 60x60 and other 'similar' music would certainly help define this.
Thanks and good luck!
on April 8, 2014 4:10am
Since the composers in this community come from all over the world, I wonder if it would be possible to do something like this as a YouTube project. Have 60 (or 40 or 100) composers of choral music write music to be compiled in a video that has been edited so that each work immediately follows the last. These could be 1 minute pieces that are recorded by ensembles in the composer's geographic area or by one ensemble willing to learn all the pieces. Or it could be excepts from various works as a showcase for the community. The real challenge would be to draw conductors to that video and encourage them to listen through the entire project.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on April 8, 2014 4:51am
It's a very interesting idea, but I wonder whether conductors would be willing to watch these hour-long compilations all the way through, in the hope of finding something of interest to them. Then there is the whole question that Donald raises of what is meant by 'new music'.  
However, I hope that something may come out of this innovative approach to sharing our music. I'll be interested in what others think!
on April 8, 2014 5:34am
Your first point is of the most concern. To the second - if we make it our own we would not need to have it restricted to just avant-garde. So, maybe a nothing ventured approach would be good.
on April 8, 2014 5:35am
Hi all,
I have to say that I don't think this is a particularly healthy approach to concert production or to the creation and appreciation of art in general.  Our listeners are already routinely bombarded with minute-length (or shorter) soundbites in daily life; most of us already move through life in an incredibly hasty and shallow way as it is.  This notion of listening to sixty 60-second works would seem, in my opinion, to abet the ADHD-like way people already experience so much of life and the world; I feel strongly that it shouldn't be a serious part of the way people approach art, too.  60x60 does listeners a disservice by forcing them to have a necessarily shallow listening experience -- I'm willing to bet that even the most erudite listener would come away from such a concert unable to recall most of the music afterwards.  Give me two high-quality 30-minute works (or three good 20-minute works, or even ten good 6-minute works) anyday over an hour-long barrage of miniatures.  Even in the hands of the masters, whose handling of extremely compact forms is highly instructive -- I think of Schubert's myriad waltzes and other small dances for the piano, for instance -- when heard end to end for a long period of time, the form can lose its potency.
Joseph Gregorio
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on April 8, 2014 7:04am
One minute video excerpts of even existing works on the Showcase or of our composers works would be really cool.   Maybe it is because I have ADD, but I could see this as a mini showcase sampler.
 I fully understand why this works for avant-garde music. The option to just wait one minute and maybe you will like what you get next reminds me of Variety music from the late 19th century.   It can appeal to a wider, less refined audience or the more learned.  
Our target audience would be conductors, not a concert audience.  Our goal would be to hook them with excerpts.  It would be great to see 60 different choirs, what they wear, how they stand etc.  YouTube and/or audio collage would be great in my opinion.
on April 8, 2014 8:19am
Ah - I see.  This makes much more sense as an online project; it would at least give listeners the option of digesting 60 clips bit by bit instead of all at once.  
To be clear, it's not the miniature form itself I have problems with; it was the thought of throwing many miniatures at a listener in rapid succession.  All the great composers of the past have innumerable miniature pieces in their catalogs; I would go so far as to say that it's only by writing lots of small forms that one learns how to bridge the long time spans involved in such large forms as concerti, symphonies, operas, and the like.  So it isn't the form itself that bothers me; it's the idea of force-feeding a listener appetizer after appetizer with no entrée in site and with no break (and, as I said above, what I feel that does to the experiences of art and of life).  Online, at least, a listener could control the size and timing of the portions.  :)
Applauded by an audience of 2
on April 8, 2014 5:33pm
I see your point Joseph but I don't think the project is replacing people going to hear longer forms, rather bringing new ideas to new audiences.  The more people are exposed to modern harmony the more they will be accepting.  I remember making myself listen to some WAY-OUT there harmonies in a symphonic concert on public television the summer of my senior year of high school.  I thought if I was going to be a music teacher I better know a thing or two about modern classical music.  I could not stand how discordant the piece was.  It was Appalacian Spring by Aaron Copland LOL.  The mere exposure effect can make people more accepting (Thanks NPR).  
I don't want to be seen as pushing this idea.  I just saw this as an innovative new idea and give Rob Voisey a lot of credit for coming up with a way John Q Public can experience atonality and enjoy it.  As for us taking and running with it, like so many ideas, I am hoping this may lead to other innovative or derivative ideas for promotion and presentation.  
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