Want to hear the real La La Land? Lend an ear to the LA composers of the Hear Now festival – Los Angeles Times

The music of “La La Land” is not really the music of La La Land. It may be only in the obvious but narrow sense that this was music written for a film made here and celebrating freeway culture. But the music of Lotus Land, or 72 suburbs in search of a city, or whatever other SoCal cliché you prefer, is essentially 7,200 (at least) composers in search of opportunity. And what you hear in Compton, Carson, Santa Clarita or on a sound stage in Culver City is not the same music.

Twenty-one of those composers got their 15 minutes, or slightly less, of fame over the weekend in three concerts of the seventh annual Hear Now Music Festival devoted to the Los Angeles scene, which in reality means L.A. and its environs stretching as far as Brooklyn.

No responsible conclusions should be drawn from such a tiny sampling in an area where composers can be found around every corner and under every rock. Some are celebrated. Some have academic associations. But not even the most tuned-in follower of the local new-music scene has a clue about most of them. Composers may not even have all that much idea of one another. They write their music, whatever that might be.

This is in great distinction to, say, the Icelandic sound that characterized the recent Los Angeles Philharmonic Reykjavík Festival — music from a city where everyone seems to know everyone and has similar names, where icy long drones pervade pop music and orchestral music, and where musical textures have a crystalline consistency. On the other hand, it is a stretch to call the composers who made it into this year’s Hear Now festival L.A. composers. Few are natives or have even been here for long. Many of the pieces were written elsewhere for musicians from elsewhere and premiered elsewhere.


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