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Thursday, 5 October 2006

Biography, programs and music

A while ago, I had a conversation with a friend who contended that people go to concerts, read the biographies (and program notes) of a composer and judge the pieces based on this rather than on the sound. He furthermore stated that many biographies of students were inflated. They had played concerts in their home towns, their college towns and now here, perhaps in three different countries. But they're not international stars, it's just where they studied. Furthermore, who their teachers were might be important, but it's not germane to listening to the piece. If these composers are so fantastic, why are they in school at all? (Maybe they just want to live in another country until Habeas Corpus is reinstated.)

I've been thinking about this in regards to my bio. I think having a bio that lists teachers, education, awards and whatnot is useful for a press kit. As in: anything that helps me get gigs is good. But what about a bio for programs? Apparently, according to my (non-Dutch) friend, the Dutch don't react well to self aggrandizement. So I've thought about having a different short bio for use in printed programs at musical performances.

Nicole says it's too weird. She may be right, as it might not fully encourage people to judge my music on it's merits rather than a perception of me that they gleam from my printed statement. But it's not self-aggrandizing and does get to the heart of certain issues. So I'm asking you, dear readers, too weird or just right?

Celeste Hutchins is a Californian abroad, testing Philip K Dick's theory that once you become a Berkeley radical, you can never leave. She explores issues of regional identity, plays music, goes to school and has telepathic conversations with an alien satellite orbiting the earth.



Polly Moller said...

I hear what you're saying. New music people always seem to wanna list who they've played with, too, as well as their teachers and education and awards. I've read bios like the one you've just written, too, and I actually find them more interesting. But I don't actually have an opinion. I use my gig-getting bio pretty much's interesting to know the Dutch don't react well to self-aggrandizement.

Jean Sirius said...

i think it's perfect. use it. when you're old, you can look at your old programs and you won't think "what a pompous windbag i was." you'll think "heh. at least i had a sense of humor."

goat said...

i vote for just right. the old one is fine but ordinary. whereas if i didn't know you and read this one, i'd think it was funny and cool and would be more inclined to pay attention with a favorable mindset; i'd also be more likely to remember you later.