I actually think it’s hard for people to get their heads around the concept that it’s possible to be good at more than one type of music, or one thing. And that’s one of the greatest strengths of the New York Philharmonic as an orchestra: the capacity to master an incredible range of styles, from Baroque to absolute cutting-edge contemporary music. And there are very few orchestras that can do that. As great as people acknowledge the New York Philharmonic to be, I think the New York Philharmonic still doesn’t get enough credit for doing what it does, week after week, in the toughest market in the world.
What I like about the way the New York Philharmonic plays contemporary music is that it’s pretty damn perfect, but they bring a kind of human dimension to the music that I think is often lacking in specialist contemporary-music ensemble performances – and I’m actually including all the famous ones in that. The musicians are not unanimously or equally enthusiastic across the board about playing this music, but generally it’s been a self-selecting group, and the people who have participated in CONTACT! have been deeply committed to it. And I think it’s an important outlet for them to be able to do it.