Reflections on Concert and Popular Music

“ I think all these separations between art and entertainment and concert music and popular music are very silly and arbitrary.” Fahad Siadat

This article explores some fascinating new trends in choral music


Fahad Siadat

Trained as a composer and performer, with his undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music and doctoral degree from CalArts, Siadat’s bona fides in traditional classical music and new music are evident.

As a choral music performer/composer and new music practitioner, he noticed a distinct gap between the two worlds. He and other performers and composers began to put together ensembles that could meld the two worlds, like C4 Ensemble and HEX. “I found similar places where the choirs were made up of composers who wanted to write … music that other groups wouldn’t touch,” he explains. “I think all these separations between art and entertainment and concert music and popular music are very silly and arbitrary … I am bothered by that division, so I am grateful for groups like Roomful of Teeth that are very popular in the choral music world, and that are bringing in these other composers like Caroline Shaw. That has now bridged the gap, which is a really exciting kind of thing.”

In working to bring the new music and choral music worlds together, Siadat found enormous opportunity to introduce singers to new choral music that might not cross their transoms in traditional choirs. “There’s something like 250,000 choirs in America,” he explains. “It’s like 10% of the US population — that’s over 50 million Americans — sing in a choir on a weekly basis … by contrast, there are 2,000 community and professional orchestras in in the US.”

“The opportunity there to bring people into this world is really big … 50 million people sing this music, which becomes their own audience, right? They’re the ones that actually get to spend weeks and months with this new literature and will learn to love it because they’ve become so familiar with it, but they’ve also got huge audiences. There’s a whole world there that isn’t engaging with this new music … so I think by advocating for this particular kind of contemporary work, we can we can start to bridge that gap and show people what new music can look like, and I think there’s a really big opportunity there.”

Here is link to beautiful dance and voice composition in progress.

In-Progress composition: Conference of the Birds

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Maryalice Jordan-Marsh, PhD, FAAN
Associate Professor, Emerita
USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work
University of Southern California

Department of Nursing
Senior Scholar
Creative Media and Behavioral Health Center
USC School of Cinematic Arts