Friday, December 25, 2009

Top 10 Pieces of Classical Music in the 00's (part 5 of 6...maybe 7)

The Fifty State Project by Sufjan Stevens (please keep it going)

(The Seer's Tower)

No, it's not cheating. Not at all. There was some sort of fantastic madness in Sufjan Stevens's ambition to make an album about every state in America - a project that if ever completed would last at least three times longer than The Ring Cycle and probably require the combined forces of Sufjan Stevens accompanying himself on a couple dozen instruments roughly 7000 times over (a not-very-educated guess). It is the kind of ambition that drives composers into the madhouse, but also moves history and shows the world just how big music can be. It was a project worthy of any classical composer, but only achievable by one thoroughly embedded in the rock tradition.

(Sleeping Bear, Sault Saint Marie)

Perhaps Sufjan Stevens is our Mahler. Writing the final chapter in the story of American musical hegemony, under-appreciated by those who should love him best, and trying to bring together all the diffuse strands of his place of origin welded together in manners no one before him thought remotely possible. Whatever he is, he is a composer worthy of inclusion, and a very serious musician whom classical music dismisses at its own peril. Even if he fails to come even close to finishing it, he should do as much of it as possible. Because neither he or any other musician could come up with a better idea.

(Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head)

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