I soon found myself reading a charming little essay called “Canadian Piano Music in the Twentieth Century,” written in 1967 as liner-notes for an LP recording. In it, Gould offered a thumbnail sketch of the prominent Canadian composers of the day. According to Gould, Serge Garant was a “Boulez-bound serialist,” and John Weinzweig was “pecking away at modified post-Webernian pointillism.” Such brief remarks suggest little more than a casual acquaintance with these composers and their music. But the fact that Gould took pen in hand to offer his opinions shows that he cared.
Of course, writing essays isn’t necessarily a part of the job for musicians. And some probably wouldn’t do it very well, even if they tried: knowing the way to Carnegie Hall won’t turn anyone into an eloquent editorialist. That said, there are at least a few Canadian performers who would be quite capable of writing about our country’s music – if they wanted to. These are articulate, and even outspoken, artists: they have websites and blogs; they post on Facebook, etc., on a variety of musical and non-musical issues. (They know who they are.)
Some might argue, “It’s the responsibility of the critics, not the performers, to write about contemporary music.” And, yes, commenting on new works is definitely part of a critic’s job-description. But speaking both as a critic and a composer, I can’t help feeling that the considered opinions of well-respected performers could do much to enrich and enliven the threadbare state of commentary on Canadian music.
So would somebody please say something?
© Colin Eatock 2011