Friday, April 20, 2012

CCC 027 - Jack Jarrett

The Consonant Classical Challenge continues with American composer Jack Jarrett. Jarrett has enjoyed a long and distinguished career, including heading up the composition department at the Berklee College of Music. Jarrett is very much concerned with the connection between the composer and the audience.

As he says on his website,
Unfortunately, the legacy of the 20th century has been to make the music-loving public extremely wary of ALL new music. They are more interested in safe masterpieces than in experiments. The same audience that eagerly embraces new theater, movies, literature and popular music now shuns new musical experiences in the concert hall -- a fact reflected in the limited repertoire of symphony orchestras and opera companies. Although the era of musical innovation for its own sake seems now to have passed away quietly, serious composers of today face not only the challenge of harnessing and mastering the broad musical language itself, but also that of reaching out and building a receptive audience for their work -- a task made even more difficult by lack of opportunity to establish any meaningful rapport with that audience.
Jarrett's style is a conscious interpretation of past musical traditions with his own unique compositional voice. Listen carefully to his composition Romeo and Juliet. You might hear (as I did) some traces of Shostakovitch, but this is no pastiche. Jarrett's tonal language may be conservative, but his ideas aren't.

One of Jack Jarrett's most popular works is his Elegy for String Orchestra. It's moving piece that quietly evokes a longing through it's supple lyricism.

 Jarrett creates works that are distinctively modern. His First Symphony, for example, while using a somewhat traditional language simply couldn't have been written a century ago -- the melodic gestures and overall structure clearly place it in the late 20th century.

Jack Jarrett is a composer actively trying to win back audiences scared off by what they perceive as "modern music." His compositions are appealing, well-constructed, and communicate real emotion. So why isn't his music programmed (or recorded) more often? It's somewhat of a puzzle to me, especially after hearing his work.

Recommended Recordings

The New American Romanticism (features Jarrett's Symphony No. 1)

The Chamber Works (features Jarrett's Andantino for Cello and Harp)

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