Introduction by Roger Reynolds to the SEARCH Project.

An Introduction for DAVID LANG

by Roger Reynolds

Copyright © 2001 Roger Renynolds and the Composition Area, Department of Music
University of California, San Diego
Published by Permission

Online publishing and editing by Karen Reynolds
All Rights Reserved.

FOCUS Seminar, 15 November 2001, University of California, San Diego

The following TEXT was commissioned by the Composition Area, Department of Music, University of California, San Diego for its SEARCH initiative. The TEXT / TALK is copyrighted and appears in its original presentation here. While links TO this TEXT or recording from other sites are welcome, no part of this TEXT may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the copyright holders [Please contact Roger Reynolds: to facilitate this.].

When the SEARCH initiative was announced two and a half years ago, our manifesto stated that it was “intended for those whose passion is to imaginatively plan and meticulously realize the music that seems necessary.” We pledged that our VISITORS would “range across perspectives, cultures, capacities, and aspirations.” It is satisfying to see this all, in fact, happening.

Living as we do here in what is in many regards a uniquely privileged environment, some among us may sometimes forget that a much less routinely supportive world awaits outside these halcyon surroundings. Our first VISITOR this year, David Lang, places this circumstance in high relief. He began his compositional work just a bit north of here, and he, as you, then had the apparent advantage of extra-ordinary institutional nourishment – from Stanford, the University of Iowa, and Yale. But in the decade and a half, since leaving institutions behind, he has done what perhaps no other American composer has ever managed.

He has, firstly, continued “imaginatively planning and meticulously realizing” his own music. This, of course, fuels all else. He has, in fact, lived – with his family – on income generated by the making of his own music. And there is much more. Working in close collaboration with two colleagues, he has contributed to the conception and successful realization of Bang on a Can: a group, an ideal, a festival, a commissioning source – in fundamental ways an unprecedented, self-sustaining resource that, while not neglecting the needs and personal designs of its organizers, has also generated countless opportunities for other composers, composers of broadly varying opinions and ways. This co-operative enterprise has also, significantly, brought continuing attention to the musical work being done in America, and not only by composers of its organizers’ generation and persuasion.

In an earlier talk, David referred to the fundamental, even defining role of performer-commitment to the quality of the musical experience that the composer and his listeners receive. When one considers the music he has written, particularly that for small groups, where individual investment and performer integrity most clearly emerges, one recognizes vividly the presence of this dynamic: the manifested quality of the opportunities and challenges he gives to musicians.

Roger Reynolds
15 November 2001