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N.Y. Philharmonic's Druckman -- the virtuoso communicator

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Musicians don't come much busier than Jacob Druckman. Since he started composing at age 12, he has won a Pulitzer Prize and two Guggenheim Fellowships, among other honors. His performing experience ranges from classical violin to jazz trumpet. As a teacher he spent 15 years at the Juilliard School, headed a couple of electronic music centers, and is now a Yale University professor. That's a partial list.

Among his current enterprises, one of the most ``meaningful and exciting'' is serving the New York Philharmonic as composer-in-residence. This post not only keeps him in dynamic contact with a major musical institution, it also puts him in the vanguard of a trend toward closer cooperation between those who write music and those who play it.

Stepping into this slot wasn't a giant step, Mr. Druckman told me during an interview in the Philharmonic's busy Lincoln Center headquarters. The orchestra had played his works before, so he ``wasn't an unknown quantity.''

What the new arrangement gives him is ``a position of some responsibility to the orchestra'' that is different from his earlier, looser association. The impetus came from a nationwide Meet the Composer/Orchestra Residencies Program that sponsors similar partnerships between five other orchestras and six other composers.

While such residencies are not a new idea, there's fresh enthusiasm for them nowadays, spurred by an expanded concept of what they can offer. Druckman feels their hour has come.

``At one time,'' he says, ``people wrote music at a different speed. It was meaningful for a Haydn to be with a Prince Esterhazy and turn out a new symphony every two weeks.

``But in this day and age, when it takes a lot longer, that constant contact with the orchestra hasn't been present. So most attempts to have a composer-in-residence have foundered, because there was no real basis for a relationship. In theory, the composer was attached. In fact, the composer was sitting alone and writing while the orchestra played in the rehearsal hall. They didn't get together until a year and a half later, when the piece was finished and copied and proofread and all that.''


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