Super SONiC

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This week on The New Canon, we welcome back composer/clarinetist Derek Bermel and composer Kenji Bunch to talk about the American Composers Orchestra's SONiC: Sounds of a New Century Festival. Join the conversation in the window below or via Twitter with the hashtag #q2new. Want to get a head start? Leave your questions in the comments below and we'll address them at the top of the chat.

The period of 1900-1910 saw an enormous outpouring of compositions, including all of Berg's Jugendlieder, Stravinsky's The Firebird, Prokofiev's Sinfonietta in A major, Strauss's Salome, Schoenberg's Pelleas und Melisande, five Mahler symphonies, Sibelius's Valse Triste, Debussy's La Mer, Ives's The Unanswered Question and Ravel's Shéhérazade (and that's just the tip of the iceberg). One hundred years later and one-tenth of the way through the 21st Century, we're experiencing a similar outpouring of works.

Which is why I hate the term "contemporary classical." Because contemporary is a mercurial term designed to be applied fleetingly without ever sticking. Look at some of the names above and then try to go a week without hearing someone refer to Ives as "contemporary." 

Enter SONiC (Sounds of a New Century): A festival celebrating composers under 40 and offering dozens of works all written within the 21st Century. Now that's contemporary—for now, at least. This week, we'll chat with composer and SONiC co-curator Derek Bermel about the genesis of this city-wide takeover of honest-to-goodness living composers, along with one of those featured composers, Kenji Bunch, and ask them both: What will set this century apart from the last?