Music For Writers: Q2 Music And Nadia Sirota On a Roll — ‘Meet The Composer’, Season 2

Nadia Sirota, Q2 Music, Meet The Composer
Nadia Sirota, Q2 Music, Meet The Composer

Accelerando Toward A Major Stretch Goal

As of this moment, only a very small subset of the world listens to it.

But if Nadia Sirota and her friends listening to her in 70 countries have anything to do with it, that will change and keep changing.

Nadia Sirota. Image: Samantha West
Nadia Sirota. Image: Samantha West

Sirota is talking about “contemporary classical music,” the most nearly accurate term we have for the sort of sound that’s the focus of our #MusicForWriters series of articles here at Thought Catalog.  She’s the host and guiding spirit — along with her faithful collaborator, producer Alex Overington — of Meet The Composer, an ambitious and important series of audio documentaries.

Now we’re getting excited for our secondary goal, which is $35,000. if we can get that, we can hire another producer to put together the bonus tracks.

Talking almost faster than she can bow her viola, Sirota is speaking, jubilantly, backstage at a concert hall in South Korea, in her concert blacks, musicians warming up around her. She’s hemmed in by an awful lot of percussion gear standing in place for the show. (We should hold a name-what-they’re-going-to-play contest.)

Sirota has recorded this video on tour because the Kickstarter campaign that began with a goal of $20,000 has scrambled past that mark and now (as of April 24) has $23,664 from 420 backers — and 12 decisive days to go. Sirota and her associates at New York Public Radio’s Q2 Music have opened a new goal of $35,000. If achieved, that mark will trigger an additional infusion of $10,000 from donor David Weller and will see new music — never before recorded — brought to world’s attention.

What Q2 Music is doing, an Internet-only service of Graham Parker’s WQXR in Manhattan, is highly significant because this is the most maker-ish factor in its admirable work.

Beyond #NowPlaying — This Is New Work

mtc-season-2Meet The Composer goes way past Q2 Music’s nonstop carriage and purveyance of this music (elegantly packaged and delivered) and generates utterly original explorations of the minds behind that music. In an hour-long Meet The Composer piece, you do that — you meet the personality quite close-up, you hear doubt, pride, confusion, certainty, ambition, fear: something intensely human comes to Sirota’s microphone with a depth far beyond the standard quick hit or fast profile.

Through no fault of its own — and, in fact, to its well-earned credit — Q2 Music is normally a superb Net-caster of music in an exceptionally mellifluous moment in history when, by some lucky aspect, we have an enormous brace of extremely potent composers working in many parts of the world. Q2 Music, under Alex Ambrose’s guiding hand, has capitalized on this happy fact and has, in about five-and-a half-years, made Q2 Music into a sonic switching station that takes in and beams back out the extraordinary output of these creative intelligences, night and day.

It’s a formidable functionality that I talked a bit about in my interview with the Royal String Quartet’s cellist Michal Pepol: the Net is able to connect and reveal composers and musicians to each other, worldwide, in a way never before possible. Q2 Music is enabling this as a locus of talent, interaction, collaboration.

And when Q2 Music takes to the Internet with its Meet The Composer series, it’s going beyond that baseline function of beaming the music worldwide — it’s actually making something of and about this music that we didn’t have.

The first season of Meet The Composer — completely free to you to hear — features:

Having been listened to more than 200,000 times, these seminal pieces now become the honored backlist to an all-new season of documentaries featuring:

  • Meredith Monk — easily one of the most acclaimed American auteurs of her generation, she is to music what Martha Graham was to modern dance
  • Nico Muhly — the fast, fast-rising orchestral, vocal, and operatic composer whose Two Boys has yet to be fully appreciated but whose following among Q2 Music fans is passionate
  • Kaija Saariaho — we wrote about her in Music For Writers here, a powerhouse of darkly moody, dramatic work
  • Ingram Marshall — with JLA, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and several others, among the real icons of the “new music” movement of the late twentieth and early 21st centuries
  • Anna Thorvaldsdottir — one of the astonishing Icelandic school of new and challenging voices unafraid of the hard surfaces of modern musical evocation

A ‘Voice Of Literature’

As you know if you follow our Music For Writers series, authors are among the most fortunate beneficiaries of this coincidence of musical talent and digital development. The contemporary classical idiom is as close to a “voice of literature” as we’re likely to get. Constructed in nervous systems that live and work in our own time, this music is crafted on the legacies of masters and the result is articulate, varied,  eloquent.

Nadia Sirota tapes a message about 'Meet the Composer' in South Korea prior to a performance. Image: Q2 Music
Nadia Sirota tapes a message about ‘Meet the Composer’ in South Korea prior to a performance. Image: Q2 Music

Sirota is a central figure in this context, both as a musician and as a commentator. To some of us who have seen and heard Sirota play in various ensembles around New York City and abroad, she’s an adventurous violist, a welcome name on any list of performers. To those who meet her first as a leading personality on Q2 Music, she’s pretty much the face of that 24-7 free stream of “living music, living composers,” as the station’s tagline has it.

She was with the service as it launched itself onto the ether in 2009 and at the time she helmed a long afternoon show each weekday that became the first destination-listening element of the young outfit’s programming. Able to talk about seemingly any and every aspect and icon of contemporary classical music (think of film scoring of the most extraordinary kind), Sirota introduced many listeners to some of the key composers she now is documenting in Q2 Music’s Meet The Composer series.

It’s an exciting time in a new listener-fueled stage of growth for Q2 Music, for Sirota, and for the composers and players who enable this unparalleled focus on an adjacent art so important to writers and other artists. This is a great moment to congratulate the team, wish them well on hitting that stretch goal, and cheering them as the “new music army” of support that so many fans have become. Bravo. TC mark

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