by Jillián Robb
What the @$#% is Sight/Sound?
Well, that’s the same question we all asked when the posters first went up around Grand Valley’s campus back in April of 2010. You probably would, too, if you saw student recital posters that looked like the one on the right. All we knew was that this recital would probably be the answer to the question, “what the hell have Adam and Dan been up to, and why did the composition studio get to commandeer a practice room indefinitely?”On the surface, Sight/Sound is a recital series. Adam and Daniel get their pieces performed, their friends and colleagues get to perform new music, and everyone else is reminded that music continued after the Romantics. The progenitors of /S, however, cannot be satisfied by surface depth, which actually brings us to how and why /S began.
Much as we’d like to believe in “art for art’s sake,” the collegiate music experience prepares students for the business of orchestral music. That means setting up shop in a practice room and playing orchestral excerpts until face and/or fingers are numb, and playing said excerpts the “official” way that will win an audition. Sure, there’s artistry involved, especially on solos, but they still have a pretty set repertoire. Does that system work for some? Sure. Does it mean they get to live the dream of making a living playing incredible, timeless music? Certainly. Does it even hint at what’s happening in the world of new music? Not a chance.