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New Music Predictions: Gabriel Kahane

In a world of music where we are so often looking back into the past, Carnegie Hall’s 125th anniversary celebrations send a clear message about the importance of looking forward, particularly when it comes to programming. To mark each of the years since it first opened its doors in 1891, Carnegie Hall has commissioned 125 new works to be premiered throughout the 2015–2020 seasons.

So where do we expect this new music to go? This question was put to both established and emerging composers who have recently been commissioned by Carnegie Hall.

This is an extraordinary time to be a young composer, in large part because institutions like Carnegie Hall have become much more adventurous and open-minded in their conception of what constitutes “new music.” As someone who is first and foremost a songwriter coming out of a folk tradition, albeit one infused with elements of modernism, I am quite certain that in no other era would I have as many opportunities as I’m blessed to have. One of the things that’s so exciting about a time like ours, typified as it is (increasingly) by shattered boundaries, is the extent to which surface complexity is no longer the only path to “seriousness” in music. As a result, we as listeners are asked to engage equally with ear, heart, and mind, and are invited to let our own, highly personal taste determine what we believe to be the art music of our epoch. Going forward, I think we will see the continued movement away from a dogmatic, ivory tower approach to curation, accompanied by the induction into the canon of new masterpieces that draw heavily from all corners of the musical earth. Open your ears. Listen.

—Gabriel Kahane


This article first appeared in Carnegie Hall: 125 Years of an Iconic Music Venue’s Most Remarkable People and Memorable Events, available at

Photo of Gabriel Kahane by Josh Goleman.

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