Saturday, April 2, 2011

Nico Muhly and the veil of secrecy

Posted By on Sat, Apr 2, 2011 at 8:07 AM

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“I'm way too perpetually anxious and self-loathing for self-publishing,” said Nico Muhly at a panel discussion yesterday afternoon for the music students at Kennesaw State University. The panel concentrated mostly on the practical ins and outs of the business, but due to Muhly's irreverent and chaotically energetic presence, Chick-fil-a, lesbian lute ensembles in the Netherlands, and tuna-eating crazy ladies with quilted handbags were also covered.

At 29, Muhly is already one of the world's most sought-after composers. He's worked with artists as diverse as Phllip Glass, Björk, John Corigliano, Sufjan Stevens, Grizzly Bear, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and Antony and the Johnsons; he's written the film score for the Kate Winslett movie The Reader and a cantata based on Strunk and White's Elements of Style; and he's recently been commissioned by the Met for a full-length opera tentatively titled Two Boys to be based on a British case involving a 14-year-old boy taking on the on-line identity of a woman to lure strangers to kill him. He's currently in the Atlanta area to help guide the world premiere of a new work “How Soon?” which was co-commissioned by Kennesaw State University and will be performed by the contemporary music ensemble eighth blackbird, the KSU Women's Chorus and the Georgia Youth Symphony Orchestra tonight, Saturday, April 2, at Kennesaw State's Bailey Center Performance Hall.

Muhly told the students he needs to keep a “veil of secrecy” between himself and the specifics of the music business, including how much he gets paid, so he can concentrate on actually making music. The initiative and drive to self-publish elude him, he said, and the thought of it, like the thought of publicists, long contracts, press blackouts, and health insurance, makes him anxious. The claim was, in the end, believable. Among his final words to the students about the biz: “Be nice to everybody.” It's good advice, but we're guessing there's probably a little more to it than that.

eighth blackbird will perform Nico Muhly's “How Soon?” tonight, April 2, at Kennesaw State University's Bailey Center Performance Hall. For more information, visit ticketing.kennesaw.edu or call 770-423-6650.

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