In my thesis I will consider the value of contemporary atonal western art music (CAWAM) and its place in modern-day society. Many scholars have spoken in some shape or form about the ‘crisis of musical modernism’, and it is also my experience as performer that many listeners have negative preconceptions in relation to CAWAM, and that programmers are largely reluctant to feature it in their concert series and festivals. Therefore, I will especially look at the role of performers and ‘musical curators’ in advocating CAWAM and engaging with audiences in a way that demonstrates CAWAM’s current relevance. A number of central questions for this research are as follows:
- Who is to ‘blame’ for the ‘crisis of musical modernism’?
- Is western art music still viable if it does not continue to evolve?
- How is meaning or affect communicated through CAWAM?
- Why are concert audiences so hesitant to venture from their ‘musical comfort zone’?
- What is the role of concert programmers and artistic directors, or curators, in drawing audience members out of their musical comfort zone and engaging them beyond their established taste patterns?