Recently, Bill Doerrfeld wrote an article in New Music Box about ageism, http://www.newmusicbox.org/articles/ageism-in-composer-opportunities/ In it, he raised some very interesting points that got a lot of feedback, inspiring me to start writing myself. In this blog I’ll be addressing some issues from that article, and in a way that I think has the most potential to initiate positive change in the world, as I myself foment positive change in my own career and approach to life. I’ll also talk about my own work and whatever issues come up that impact it, which is basically everything. So to start, here’s a bit about me and how I am feeling at the moment.
I’m in my mid-fifties, and I suppose people would say that I’ve hit mid-career as a composer and pianist. It’s very odd and feels somehow “middlin'” all around, like this is supposed to be the less interesting part of my career. I just had the image of baking a cake, where at the beginning you put together all the ingredients and blend them, the start of one’s career, if you will allow me this baking analogy, then you put the cake in the oven and bake it, which would be the mid-career part (watching and waiting for the ingredients you started with to come together in a hidden environment), and then you get to eat the cake – mmmm delicious – which is the end of the career. This “baking” part is where it can feel a little invisible to the wider world. You are no longer the flavor of the month, if you ever had that distinction, and no one is quite ready to celebrate your life’s work because you are still making work, presumably.
Then there’s the part about being a woman in my mid-fifties. Mid-life holds an equally dismal place in our minds, no matter how hard AARP tries to spin it. The very FACT of AARP is depressing to me on so many levels, and denial is pervasive, in my life anyway. And then there’s the invisibility factor.
I am told that as a middle-aged woman that I am invisible from now on. Now I am twice as invisible! Problem is, I don’t feel at all invisible. I don’t feel old or middle anything. In fact, I probably felt older when I was young, if that makes any sense at all. The weight of the world felt heavy on me and when I could legitimately be called a young composer, I wasn’t composing music yet! Started at 30, so I’d already aged out of those ASCAP and BMI awards. In other words, these categories all ring false to me somehow.
Life changed for me at 30, when I began composing and was a full-time freelancer. But this blog isn’t about my life story, this blog is about the state of things now, in my field of new music composition and performance. And I hope you will feel inspired to join me and make this monologue a dialogue!