Sunday, December 11, 2005

looking back (again)

I just received the MacDowell Colony newsletter in the mail. I was surprised to read that Bill Karlins, a composer from Chicago who taught at Northwestern for many years, and whom I knew slightly from my own Chicago days, had died last spring.

I realized that ten years ago I would have heard about his death soon after it happened. If he had been ill, I would have known. Not because we were friends; he was thirty years older than me, and I was never his student. It was because I was no longer "plugged in" to the small world of contemporary non-pop music. Then, I was always planning. I would enter competitions. I won my share of significant awards. I was always looking for interested performers. I went to MacDowell and Yaddo and hung out with the artists I met there, trying to forge professional friendships (some worked, some didn't; some became true friendships that had little to do with our shared professions).

I always wanted to know who was where and what was what, and how I could get to the next level. I wondered how the older artists I knew got to where they were. I would ask questions. In the answers, I found a mystery. So many of them didn't seem to care. How could this be? I was surprised that one could be an artist and not be constantly planning career moves.

Ten years ago I would not have thought that I would reach a point where I don't care. I don't care if I am famous or not. I don't care about awards. I neglect grant applications. I don't check in on the American Music Center postings. Is this from some fear of failure? I don't think so. I think that life has become too full of other things, for me, to think about the intangibles beyond the intangible things that I am working on in my head.

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