...dedicated to the promotion of composition, performance, understanding and dissemination of new and contemporary music...

Letter from the President

James Paul Sain

By James Paul Sain

Colleagues in Composition,

First, thank you to all of you for the opportunity to serve you as your newest president. I am humbled by the trust and faith you’ve shown in me. I’ve been involved with our organization since I was a graduate student and, with nearly 27 years as a member, I look forward to many more.

First and foremost we are a group of composers that share so much, whether a new composer just beginning the journey or a noted composer with a substantial publication and performance history, we’re all on an amazing journey. We have so much to share with one another and by supporting one another we all are bettered.

We started with the moniker, “The American Society of University Composers.” Though we continue to reach out and embrace all that is encompassed by the composition profession, we still are largely defined by the university setting where many of us either are going to school or teaching. We are largely a group of educators. We volunteer our time without regard to monetary compensation. This is an amazing asset. Wisely used, it assures the future advancement of music composition within our society in the United States.

In our country and within our profession many of us have felt the pains of an economic downturn for far too many years. As we are hopefully coming out of this financial dip, we should look to how each of us can invest in the future of composition. We are a unique and resourceful lot and one thing we can do for the composition profession is to focus on presenting our music and that of others. As a society one of our big benefits has always been our national and regional conferences. Having presented a good number of conferences and festivals myself individually or in collaboration with colleagues, I can attest that, albeit hard work, my students, colleagues and I always benefited greatly from presenting these events. I want to encourage each of you to consider how you might benefit from hosting or co-hosting such an event and how it positively impacts the future of contemporary music within our institutions, communities and country.

As has been demonstrated in recent years, you need not only consider hosting an SCI event at a single institution. In many of our metropolitan areas, there are numerous colleges and universities within proximity to one another. Each carries unique strengths and potential. I personally really enjoyed attending the national conference in San Antonio, given by my predecessor, Tom Wells, for this reason. I had the opportunity to visit and hear concerts in several institutions that broadened my view of the vibrant new music scene in that wonderful city.

I am here to help. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of conference presentation, a new faculty member looking to build your curriculum vita, or a freelancer looking to expand your professional base, I know each of you has the potential to see that our organization remains a vital and significant contributor to the future of contemporary music.

As a society we have other programs that help support the cause of new music. Our recording series, journal of musical scores, SCION, website, student commissioning award, newsletter and student chapters are immeasurable assets. Each provides much needed opportunities for our membership throughout their careers. As an educator as well as a former SCI Representative for Student Chapters, our students are of special interest to me. They are our future. If you don’t have a student chapter on your campus, or if you already have a student composers’ organization, please consider affiliating with SCI as a student chapter. This is a wonderful way to encourage professional growth in a student body and enable the students to seek on-campus funding for projects of interest to them. Our chapter at the University of Florida, now over 20 years old, has produced 10 CDs of their music completely funded by our student government. They also often bring in wonderful and noted guest composers to engage with students and our community as a whole on one of our concert series or contemporary music festival. Please let Dr. Nickitas Demos, Mr. Adam Scott Neal or myself know if you need any assistance in this regard. You won’t regret making the investment.

I am here as your primary conduit to our organization. I hope to hear from you as you have need and when you would like to share news of your professional activities. We need to continue doing what we do well, to seek out new areas where we can support the cause of contemporary music, and we need to tell our story well.

James Paul Sain