During the period of the 1950s and 60s, performance of new music was very much in vogue in both Europe and the US. Such composers as Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen, both students of the great French composer, Olivier Messiaen established new music centers in Europe , both in Darmstadt and in Paris. The composers of the US at the time were Irving Fine, Milton Babbitt,Harold Shapero, Lukas Foss, George Rochberg,John Cage and a host of others, like Morton Feldman and Phillip Glass, beginning to be heard.
In the mid 60’s Lukas Foss, the pianist and composer,and conductor of the BuffaloPhilharmonic, and Allen Sapp, himself a composer and at that time the Chair of the Music Department at the University of Buffalo made a grant proposal to the Rockefeller Foundation to gather together performers and composers in order to form what they called the Center for the Creative and Performing Arts.
They received their grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and so I, and about 20 other performers and composers formed the first group of Creative Associates. By definition a Creative Associate was a post doctoral fellow whose membership within this first group allowed them to perform new music as well as anything else that helped them in their careers.It paid a very decent stipend and it was Tax Free. ( I don’t know how they managed it, but that was the 60s, and I was quite delighted to be a member. In fact, I had been assured that I would be able to comlete my Phd while on the grant, but that changed soon after and I was disappointed, but only a little. The peforming group was called Evenngs for New Music. We were to play concerts of new music at the Allbright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, and repeat tham in Carnegie Recital Hall.
As mentioned, we were free to do anything else we wished to and the first thing I did was organize a concert of music for Soprano, Clarinet and Piano.
I asked George Crumb, who was a composer/pianist to play the piano and Carol Plantamura to sing. (George Crumb as many will know became one of the most prominent contemporary composers and spent his later career as head of Composition at the University of Pennsylvania.
Carol Plantamura toured worldwide and later was a professor at UCLA, San Diego. That first concert consisted of works we all know: Schumannn Opus 92, ,“DirHirt Auf Dem Felsen” and a Romance from an opera of Schubert, and the Alban Berg Vier Stucke for Clarinet and Piano,composed in 1913, and still at that time, it was considered a relatively new piece. (The Center continued until the mid 80s or 90s, but we were the first).
Here is a partial list of the players as I recall them: Paul Zukovsky and Chales Joseph, Violins, Jean Dupouy, Viola, George Crumb and Fred Myrow and Michael Saul,pianists,Laurence Bogue and Carol Plantamura and Sylvia Brigham, Vocalists, and John Bergamo and Jan Williams, percussion. Richard Wernick, later a winner of two Pulitzer prizes was the coordinator. Trumpet was none other than Don Ellis, who later had his own rather experimental band, and wrote the music for The French Connection,perhaps the best Crime Drama of the 70s and The Seven-ups, (composed in 71 and 73). Unfortunately he passed away in 1978.
The grants were for a year, however mine was extended for another year, and then I went on finishing my MM, and all the rest.. I played in many concerts and of course,had many works written for me, met all of those composers and folks like Copland and Bernstein, Henry Cowell, (who was still alive then, Roger Sessions, and others almost too numerous to recall. Liasons of all kind were formed, grew to fruition and/or were broken.
Most importantly , I met my wife Linda in Buffalo, and we made four sons,all of whom are working in Montreal.(She is the most gifted of them all, but made me promise not to mention her.) We are retired now and are living and writing and yes, playing in Canada.
Here is a photo of rehearsal for that first concert. George Crumb, pianist, Carol Plantamura, soprano and myself, on clarinet, as people are prone to saying, playing my Mazzeo full-boehm , (and with hair). (What a wonderful time we all had. (A pun which I believe began there, was the following: If you have a concert and play music by Irving Fine and Vincent D’indy, you have a concert of Fine and Dandy. (Cute, at the time.)