It isn’t Lollapalooza

The music was being played for the first time ever, and it resonated through a hall that normally was filled with the familiar strains of classical symphonic music.

Bonk, threet, screech, boom.

Or maybe it was boom, screech, threet, bonk.

It was more a pattern of sounds, billed as avant-garde music from an unknown composer, and it was placed last on the bill. It certainly woke up the crowd of staid symphony goers, and some of the folks moved uneasily in their expensive orchestra seats. A few people got up and left.

To me, it seemed like a strain on a logical mind. What I didn’t know at the time was that in its complexity and inventiveness could be found a modern American music: the art of sound.

It’s that contemporary stuff that puts together hard-to-follow beats, sounds and dissonance—not really the melodies that your grandparents danced to (or that you danced to, for that matter). It can be hard to identify, with elements that range from modern classical to electronic or experimental jazz.

It can be a challenge for the first-time listener. You have to relax and really listen. It commands attention and an open mind.

We listened when told the story of a group of teachers who struggled to find a place for this art form to be heard in Sacramento (see “Notes from the underground,” page 20). Many of you may not have heard of the Festival of New American Music, or heard the music that will be performed. Those are probably the best reasons to go.