Today we announced our St. Louis Season. It’s an initiative we developed because we noticed how much new music and art is happening in the midwest after being the resident ensemble at the Mizzou New Music Summer Festival since 2010. It’s a no-brainer, of course, that creative energy flows everywhere.
What is remarkable, though, is how that energy is channeled in uneven ways in the American music scene: prestigious venues, influential critics, etc. are located on the east and west coasts, reflecting the cultural infrastructure of contemporary music. Not surprisingly, communities have formed around the concentration of artistic resources in New York and Los Angeles—less so in the heart of the country—and the wealth of creative work that has emerged from these communities is proof that culture develops and thrives at the intersection of artistry and geography.
The challenge that faces an ensemble with a national scope like Alarm Will Sound, therefore, is to broaden the definition of the “American music scene,” not only artistically, but geographically too. We take that challenge to be the creation of an infrastructure for contemporary music in the midwest. As we enter our thirteenth season, Alarm Will Sound is poised to lead and participate in the development of a new-music community that concentrates and amplifies the creative energy that flows in places like St. Louis, Memphis, Indianapolis, Detroit and Chicago, as much as it does in New York and Los Angeles.
The essential first step is to become a focal point within the community. An ongoing series of innovative performances in St. Louis will be the heart of Alarm Will Sound’s initiative. Over time, we will become integrated in the community through strategic partnerships with presenters in St. Louis; through collaborations with local composers and artists; and through educational programs that address the needs of the next generation of composers and performers.
As Alarm Will Sound becomes rooted in St. Louis, we also envision reaching a wider midwestern audience. The over-arching goal is to meet the midwest’s cultural needs and to grow its artistic infrastructure as an essential (if overlooked) part of the country’s cultural geography.
Whatever our success has been in the past, it would have been impossible if there were no audience, or no need for the dynamic and rich musical expression of contemporary life. Reaching that audience, and cultivating that need in St. Louis and the midwest are part of Alarm Will Sound’s mission to further enrich American culture.