USA Music Panel for 2007

Ed Barguiarena (Chair)

Composer, Musician, and Producer, Los Angeles, CA

Robert Sadin

Conductor, Arranger, and Record Producer, New York, NY

Lourdes Pérez

Vocalist, Composer, Songwriter, and USA Stevens Fellow 2006, Austin, TX

Welz Kauffman

President and CEO, Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL

Simeon Pillich

Musician and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA

Statement by Ed Barguiarena

More than ever, our lives are filled with music. It’s all around us. Everyone has a digital music player, a Web space, and a collection of eclectic sounds. With a simple click, an endless supply of musical content is at our fingertips; all we need is the desire to take a journey. And the spectrum of what’s out there is immense, from the familiar to the unexpected. If you’re a music lover, this is a very exciting time.

What’s interesting is how this massive amount of sonic saturation has affected us. Instead of pushing us into a solitary cocoon of auditory delights, music has become a means to connect with others—through e-mails, text messages, and even actual conversations: “Hey, have you heard ____?” “Let me play something for you,” or “ I love this music!” These phrases are evidence of the timeless wonder we have for music: we feel, we think, we share. And our understanding of what music is or can be is changing and expanding. Categories are no longer significant or accurate; hybrids and hyphenates are the order of the day. Efforts to describe music that inspires are outmatched by the experience of listening. When it comes to music, you have to hear it.

The same is true of the outstanding musicians being awarded USA Fellowships this year: Don Byron, Michael Doucet, Leila Josefowicz, Jason Moran, John Santos, and Evan Ziporyn. They must be heard. These artists have each developed a unique and personal expression, a meaningful and evolving reverberation of their own experiences and beliefs through music.

Michael Doucet, fiddler and vocalist, creates within the tradition of Cajun music from Louisiana and Texas. His melodies connect to the past and present with a heartfelt shout of “Get up and dance!” Don Byron (clarinet) and Jason Moran (piano), in New York, come from the lineage of jazz. Byron’s genre-bending abilities as a composer and performer communicate in the dialects of Motown funk, experimental chamber music, and beyond. Moran enables the sounds of expressionism, spoken word, and hip-hop to artfully coexist in his creations. In San Francisco, percussionist John Santos explores new combinations of Afro-Latin music, stirring the rhythms of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Colombia. Leila Josefowicz—classically trained in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York—traverses time through the iconic violin concertos of yesterday and the emerging music of today.  Boston-based Evan Ziporyn’s cross-cultural hybrid of Western music and Indonesian gamelan transports us to a completely fresh musical landscape, foreign yet recognizable.

In the artistry of these musicians we hear the sensibilities of our time, a broad reflection of our country, our world, and ourselves. Each of these artists is a human playlist; they interpret the music they love through the prism of the personality—bending, borrowing, inventing. And because we are intimately engaged in the act of listening, we can experience the brilliance and joy of boundless music.