12 December 2009

the Berkeley New Music Project

Yesterday evening I was dragging my jet-lagged self from work to The Hard Nut, and even on the lower level of the Berkeley BART station I could hear lilting carols, which is not the kind of thing you normally hear at the Berkeley BART station, even at this festive season of the year. So, being semi-flush with bills, when I reached the upper level I put a few in the bucket. The gentleman on the far left in the picture below said, "Thank you" and handed me a slip of paper.

One side said the Berkeley New Music Project and the other said:

"We are graduate student composers and friends of the composition program at UC Berkeley['s] Department of Music. We're raising money to support our performing organization, the Berkeley New Music Project. Each semester, BNMP presents 1-2 concerts of graduate student compositions. Recent budget cuts have left us with a funding shortage that we need to make up in order to uphold the standard of high-quality professional performance that has become a vital component of our program. A donation today will go directly toward funding our concert next semester (April 4, 2010)."

You can mail contributions to them at:

Department of Music
University of California, Berkeley
104 Morrison Hall #1200
Berkeley, CA 94720-1200
(Specify "Berkeley New Music Project")

Or you may contribute online here. And you can read about the group here. And their next concert is this Thursday, December 17, at 7:00 p.m. at Hertz Hall on the Berkeley campus.

I think it's great they're out raising money and publicizing themselves (this was the first time I'd heard of this group). And I'm sure it's good practice for their future. But I also think it's a shame they have to turn busker to raise funds rather than just to gain publicity: you'd think a major public university could finance something as basic as performances of graduate student compositions (oh, my alma mater!). It just seems like a symptom of the growing corporatization of American universities: the administration and the Board are taken care of, and so are departments that can get corporate funding, and everything else (in other words, the things universities primarily exist to preserve, protect, and expand) gets tossed by the wayside. (I should probably clarify that these opinions are mine and not those of this group; my only conversation with them was to ask if I could take their picture.)

So if you're looking for a recipient for any year-end donations, why not show some faith in the future of music and think of this group.


Civic Center said...

I'm giving my donation to the people who tried to burn down the Chancellor's House, thank you very much. UC Berkeley has always been a branch of organized crime, you just haven't been paying attention. Welcome home.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

You are delightfully Brechtian, as always. "Organized crime" at least used to take better care of its own.