Of course, there’s the Moguchaya kuchka. So, there’s Rimsky-Korsakov and Borodin and the whole Russian school, the mighty five. And there’s Les Six in Paris, right. They’re definitely composer collectives, and certainly it was a model to us of what an open spirit John Cage was with all the people in his world.1 And I think probably if we looked at any of these people — there were a couple of them that really jumped out. One of them was Philip Glass. So, Philip Glass started his own ensemble, because he felt like no one’s going to play my music the way I want it to be played, and so I’m going to play it, and I’m going to go around and do it. Steve Reich had the same idea. Meredith Monk had the same idea. The idea was not so much the composer collective for us, but I think it was the do-it-yourself culture. And that was really important to us.
Another important model for us was The Kronos Quartet.2 Because The Kronos Quartet by 1987 was touring around, and all they were playing was contemporary music. And this was completely anathema to the lesson that we had gotten from our teachers, which was nobody wants to hear this music, you’re going to play in front of 20 people every night, wherever you are, and the measure of your success will be whether or not your colleagues, who are one step ahead of you in your career, like you, and that’s it. I mean it was a very, very limited vision of what success could be, that we got from our teachers.
And occasionally an orchestra might play something of yours, and occasionally somebody might present something of yours, but nobody will like it. Everybody will be mean to you. And that’s not where you’re going to build your career. You’re going to build your career through the academic world, you’re going to build your career from famous people whose music nobody likes, who decide to smile upon you, and then you will be the person whose music nobody likes. Then you’ll have to power to smile on somebody else. And that just seemed like a terrible life to us. And so, when you see things, like Einstein on the Beach, or Philip Glass — I mean or Steve Reich, or you see things like The Kronos Quartet going around and packaging themselves as being people who’ll only something new and selling out to people who were not necessarily fans of classical music, it can be very inspiring, but that message was really hard to get in the music school.