It is a fair assumption that if you mention the term Classical Music to a teenager it will probably conjure up images of a bunch of dead guys with white wigs that composed music hundreds of years ago. Modern day classical music fans are a little more lenient as what they term as classical music. The modern-day classical fan will fall in love with any music that is complex, has form, but most of all is artful. If you think classical music is dead and gone you are mistaken, there are some fantastic modern-day composers who are writing some exciting stuff.
Mark Anthony Turnage
Forget your concept of opera being stuffy and old fashioned, Mark Anthony Turnage wrote an opera based upon the Playmate darling called Anna Nicole. This story about Anna Nicole Smith is not even his most radical work, he also composed Blood on the Floor which has a theme of drug addiction, and his composition introduces elements of jazz to the classical score.
John Luther Adams
John Luther Adams gets his inspiration from natural landscapes, especially from where he lives in Alaska. In 2014 he wrote Become Ocean and it was so well received he actually was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. His work has often been regarded as the music of the planet, which is amplified by his museum installation called, The Place Where You Go to Listen.
Rzewski is inspired of the politics of the day, and this modern-day American composer is not afraid to take on even the most controversial topics. Coming Together was written with reference to a series of letters by an inmate at Attica State Prison. The letters told the story of the riots in Attica in 1971 and the music reflects the turmoil of the time. Another piece entitled Antigone-Legend is inspired by the American Government’s strong-arm tactics and policies that came to the fore with the bombing of Libya in 1986. The musical score is radical in that it utilizes Twelve Tone Techniques.
Hailing from Jordan, Saed Haddad fuses Arab influences into his highly complex music. The compositions open up the differences between the West and the East, and he addresses issues of cultural imperialism in the form of his compositions. He believes that music can really identify what a person is all about, but his bold and some may say radical music, rallies against closed-mindedness that is not open to different cultures and peoples.
Another contemporary composer that embraces Asian culture is Unsuk Chin, but unlike Saed Haddad she is playful and fun with her new concepts. This South Korean composer has won many awards, including the highly prestigious Arnold Schonberg Prize.
Her music fuses both acoustic and electronic sounds, and if you consider this vibrant composer’s music to the films of Tim Burton then you are close to finding a soul mate. These modern composers all clearly show that modern-day classical music is alive and definitely kicking. Perhaps with a little encouragement, teenagers of the day might actually like some of the music being made today and open up the ears a little.