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In Praise of Community Music

Some years ago I attended a composers’ panel at a new music festival. The panelists included several composers, including one with an international career and a long legacy of large, well-received works. The following exchange was heard: VERY FAMOUS COMPOSER It’s so hard being famous. The pressure of high-profile commissions is unreal. I wish I could write pieces for smaller groups. ANOTHER COMPOSER How about writing for this awesome community orchestra in Oakland? I know the director, they’d love to premiere a piece of yours. VERY FAMOUS COMPOSER Not that small! What Very Famous Composer didn’t know or had forgotten in his long, storied career, is that sometimes the very best thing you can do as an artist is to enable other people to make music. Last year I had the pleasure of being involved in two community music projects. The first was a last-minute commission for the Community Women’s Orchestra in Oakland, led by conductor-composer-flutist Martha Stoddard. Because the piece was f

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