Last night I witnessed David Lang’s elevated at our local new music festival. The composer spoke to the audience prior to the performance. He is a professor at Yale University and speaks with passion and authority about his musical explorations, his willingness to take risks, his desire to be emotionally expressive but not to constrain a listener’s emotional terrain. The performance itself revealed more. Along with the theoretical understanding of composition and the emotional commitment in each project, there is also the craft. There could be little doubt that David Lang is in full command of his craft. An honour to hear his music and his own thoughts about his music.
I admire master crafstmen, men and women who toil long in acquiring the skills they bring to bear in the accomplishment of some act. Amongst writers I find the mastery of the craft is almost as admirable as the product itself. For example, I find Ian McEwan’s novels to be troubling but his evident control over each sentence, each phrase, each word choice is exhilarating. Craft. I see it to varying degrees in all of the writers I appreciate. My recent finds include Michael Chabon, Richard B. Wright, Guy Vanderhaeghe, and Francine Prose. Learning the craft of writing, developing the skills, the habits, the understanding – this is my task.