I think anything that is expressed directly and as honestly as possible will last.
Our most intimate contact with civilizations long since dust has been through the art which has survived them.
The story of Willie Stark fascinated me because it was tackling the story of a man who outwardly has all the success one could possibly want and who is destroyed by his personal demons.
I find it enormously valuable to be sure that that the pacing is what I think it is and that the scenes have the shape I think they have musically and dramatically.
We think the Puritans always dressed in black and white, which they didn't. They loved very bright colors. And there were other differences in perceptions that gave one a very different view of them.
I've never set out consciously to write American music. I don't know what that would be unless the obvious Appalachian folk references.
People in very high places suddenly fall, and we are always surprised because we don't factor in the basic element that they're humans and, therefore, they are flawed and have weaknesses.
The artist is something of an outsider in America. I have always felt that America does not value its artists, certainly not in the sense that the Europeans do.
I was encouraged by my mother and, to a lesser extent, by my father.
Like any other composer of opera, I choose a subject not for polemical reasons, but because it contains vivid characters in highly charged dramatic situations.
Socially I never was an outsider. I have never thought of the conflict element before frankly, but perhaps it was wanting to belong, and at the same time wanting to retain one's own personality.
There's the Bacon society, which is fostered by his fourth wife Helen Bacon, but I don't know what kind of performances his music gets. He wrote symphonic music and some chorale music.
What is American music? The most satisfying answer I've come across is that it was a kind of natural comfort with the vernacular which is diverse and regional; it's not one particular set of sounds.
It's necessary to track characters all the way through an opera. If you're dealing with more than one or two characters, it's very easy to forget that the others have lives of their own that feed into the story.
The performances of my works in the last 10 years are probably equal to all the previous years put together. There are so many venues now and there is a completely new public for opera that's grown up outside of the traditional core opera public.
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