Happy birthday, NewMusicBox

Written by Andrew Druckenbrod on .

Ten years ago, I was working at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, covering the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and other groups, as well as working as a copy-editor in its Web site, then one of the most innovative and robust ones in the country. But because I wasn't the chief classical music critic -- that was back when criticism in newspapers had more a future than it does now! -- I was applying to jobs and looking for other writing opportunities.

I can't quite remember how it happened but I became aware of a fantastic new "Web-zine," as we called it, run by the American Music Center in New York. It had the somewhat goofy name of NewMusicBox -- goofy simply because I thought of most contemporary music as "out of the box" music -- but it used the Internet to its full potential at the time by using hypertext links. Because of the links and the space the Internet offered compared to print, the articles almost shocked in how much more depth and comprehensive treatment they provided.

I was excited and I pitched editor Frank Oteri soon after. Or maybe he pitched me at the Music Critics Association of North America meeting in Chicago that year. I can't remember. In any case, I ended up writing this long article looking at just how much American music U.S. orchestras actually play. My wife, Allison Schlesinger, took the photo of me. I was trying to be cute by holding $ in one hand and a score in the other...Andrew Druckenbrod in 1999

Looking at it again, I can hardly believe how much work went into that article. It is so comprehensive, with reports on 20 orchestras. I surely didn't get paid much for it, but it was something I was and am really proud of. It showed me the potential of the Web to pass on information about the arts, and maybe some other readers, too. If not, I would think that the many great articles on the site that came in the next 10 years did that.

This summer, NewMusicBox is celebrating its decade of providing quality articles helping both composers, performers, audiences and industry folks learn much more about so many topics in this biz. I hope you take some time to browse some of its archive.

Congratulations, NMBx! May you have another 10 x 10 years of raising the bar for writing about music and supporting composers.

Oh, and check out its excellent Counterstream Radio when you get the chance.

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