The New Music Collective is likely the only “classical” music organization in town with a MySpace page – “a great way to create a community, even if it is owned by corporate hoo-hahs,” says NMC cofounder Nathan Koci. “It’s useful, if you can swim past the dating ads and the half-naked girls.”
Along with Ron Wiltrout and Philip White, Koci founded the New Music Collective in April of last year. (White has since moved to Oakland.) The ‘New Music’ they refer to is not the latest Death Cab for Cutie, but rather, as, Koci says, “where classical music has ended up.”
Not that it’s always played by a string quartet. A major inspiration for the Collective is a New York organization called Bang on a Can. And as anyone who saw Spoleto’s Music in Time series this year knows, new music can be written for flip-flops, beer bottles, or a trombone played in a tub of water.
Koci, 25, grew up in Ladson and graduated from Stratford High School and then USC, where he was classically trained in the French horn. He also plays piano and trumpet and – in recent months – the accordion. (He’s got the hang of the piano side, but the 120 buttons for chords and bass notes are coming along more slowly.)
Although Koci recently quit the proverbial day job to play music full time, the NMC is mostly a labor of love, performing a handful of concerts a year. (New music has a pretty arcane rep. Even Music in Time’s John Kennedy, a major figure in the field, has to do some traditional conductor duties for Spoleto, like auditioning musicians for the Festival Orchestra.)
Koci’s current projects include 1) Kopaja, a jazz act with Wiltrout and bassist Kevin Hamilton; 2) Havanason, a Cuban band; 3) Cabaret Kiki at Theatre 99; 4) random shows with guitarist Bill Carson, and 5) playing keyboards for vocalist Cary Ann Hearst.
Roots in the classics notwithstanding, the New Music Collective angles for the young, open-minded hipster scene, the crowd you might see at contemporary art openings. They’ve played Redux Contemporary Art Center and likely will again for their fall show.
Next spring the Collective hopes to put on an “exquisite corpse” – a musical game once played by composers John Cage and Virgil Thomson, among others. The musical version is adapted from a painting game played by Surrealist painters in the 1920s. Different artists create different parts of the same composition, working in one basic format but with no idea what the others have done. Whatever the outcome of that experiment, the New Music Collective has already invigorated and challenged the arts scene with its ambitious goals to compose, perform, and promote new music. –Jonathan Sanchez