Review of Guerrilla Composers Guild in SFCV

Anyone who thinks classical music is going the way of the telephone booth needs to be kidnapped by the Guerrilla Composers Guild (GCG) and taken to the Center for New Music holding pen, indented into the side of the Golden Gate Theater building just off Market Street on Taylor. Thursday night, dozens of new-music lovers crammed into the concert space to hear the evolving group Phonochrome and friends play six new chamber works by as many worthy composers. Almost everyone — performers, composers, and, most significantly, audience members — was apparently under 30. I can now die in peace knowing art music will continue to prosper.

What can be said about the music of this generation, at least as propounded by Les Six Nouveaux? There’s hardly a trace of hard-core modernism. While there are a few remnants of postminimalism, for the most part the music is what used to be called the “New” but is now the “Standard” Eclecticism — that is, whatever style suits the idea. The music is suffused, as well, with a fair dose of sectionality, short-attention-span-ism, or what one might call Suite Thinking. Boredom is not an option. There also seems to be a welcome resurgence of melodic and harmonic priority going into this music. Speaking in Early Telephone Booth lingo, my Hat Is Off to all concerned with this Guerrilla enterprise.

…Next came the sadly reflective moods of GCG founder Nick Benavides’ “…none of us were overly concerned” “elegy for past and present victims of chemical warfare,” for flute cello and piano. Not a note was wasted in its seven-minute length.

Nick Benavides