Aside from several layers of conflict of interest involved -- Hartke does, after all, glean a few bucks from the Philharmonic in the banal process of making the nonverbal verbal -- he glides rather glibly over the fact that, sure, the cheers rang out in Zipper Hall that night, from a clearly partisan audience of USC classmates. The worst aspect of Hartke’s blatantly self-serving letter, in fact, is its subtext: the factionalism that instills deep divisions with-in the new-music scene. The USC crowd hangs together and yells its collective self hoarse at each other‘s accomplishments; so does the UCLA crowd; so does the CalArts crowd; they travel with their own cheering sections. (Last week’s EAR Unit concert came well-equipped with CalArts cheerleaders, but I looked in vain for faculty members from other schools, even though USC‘s Crockett was among the performers.) The Los Angeles area is one of the most active new-music venues in the country, and every event should ideally nourish and stimulate the entire community. Actions like Stephen Hartke’s preposterous letter can only slow the process.
And by the way, I make the necessity of making the nonverbal verbal my most rewarding challenge -- and not a bit banal.