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Joseph Dillon Ford Interview : Page 2 of 2

Interview with Joseph Dillon Ford

continued from page 1

Q: How did you first discover your passion for tonal music?

A: Each of our composers would probably give a different reply to that question. Speaking for myself, I grew up in a home with a mom who played "classical" music on our upright piano, so I got very early exposure to Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and many other composers besides through her performances and through our family stereo system, TV, and radio. For Delian David Solomons, it was Mendelssohn's magnificent Octet that opened the door to the art of tonality. Edward Gold was trained as a concert pianist and grew up playing masterworks by many of the most prominent romantics, later recording for the Musical Heritage Society.

Q: Who were some of your early musical influences? How has that changed over the years?

A: In addition to the composers and circumstances mentioned already, I should put a word in for my exposure to art music in the public schools since the first grade through high school, during which time I was fortunate to have some very talented music teachers.

I'm deeply concerned about what I perceive to be the decline of music education that has come about in recent years, particularly as a consequence of budget cuts affecting all the arts and bureaucratic meddling with curricula and teaching. If "classical" music is threatened today, these are some of the chief causes endangering its survival. Not every citizen has to become a professional musician, but each should acquire at least a level of music literacy that makes it possible to understand and enjoy the great art music traditions from around the world.

Focusing on basic verbal and mathematical skills at the expense of the arts is a sure formula for mediocrity and cultural decay, since it undermines the cultivation of creative thinking and tends to produce shallow conformists content to consume the transient products of commercial popular culture — the intellectual equivalent of "fast food." If people are unable to engage meaningfully with the great creative minds of the past and use what they have to offer us in new ways, the future of societies around the world will be grievously, irreparably diminished.

Q: When you're not creating new music, what do you like to listen to? Are there any modern musicians you find particularly inspiring?

A: Again, each Delian would likely give a different answer. Personally, I don't recognize any fixed boundaries between past and present, which is completely in line with Einstein and other mainstream physicists who think of all times existing together in a sort of "block." I don't believe "now" is confined to any insular moment or can be encompassed by some notion of contemporaneity but is, rather, porously expansive, taking in all times and places. So I can enjoy listening to "ancient" Greek music as much as I do to a performance by the Kronos Quartet. I believe I speak for many Delians, whose tastes are similarly eclectic — but by no means elitist. "Popular" music can be and often is invigorating, and the best of it is composed for reasons other than purely commercial ones.

Q: If readers are interested in joining The Delian Society, what are the requirements/benefits, and who do they connect with online?

A: They can apply for membership by setting up a Yahoo! Account and clicking on the "Join This Group!" link here.

Once they receive a reply, they must complete and return a brief questionnaire by e-mail to validate their background and intentions. A list of links — soon to be updated — that provides full details can be found at the bottom of our Delian Society Roster web page.

Q: Any exciting events coming up that you'd like to share with our readers?

A: The next major performance event we have planned will be a world premiere this summer of a collaborative work for bassoon, violin, and piano during the "Fou de Basson" Colloquy at the Conservatoire Gabriel Fauré (France). The trio, incorporating movements by an international group of twelve composers, is based on "Le Horla," a chilling psychological novella by Guy de Maupassant.

We are also engaged in a project intended to encourage support for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. Some of our composers created a suite for flute and guitar based on the beloved Haitian lullaby "Dodo titite," and performers Michelle LaPorte (flute), Gerry Saulter (guitar), Melanie Chirignan (flute), and Tim Maynard (guitar) have volunteered to record the music, which will be available free of charge to others wishing to collaborate with us.

The Delian Society intends to continue supporting worthwhile social and environmental endeavors.

Q: What is your greatest challenge in working with all these disparate artists and musicians? Your greatest joy?

A: The greatest challenge for me as International Coordinator is coordinating everything internationally! Thanks to the opportunities opened up by the Internet, this isn't nearly as difficult a task as it might have been just twenty or so years ago. Of course there are still language barriers to overcome, and we need to ensure greater access to the Web for musicians in developing nations (particularly in Africa), but we have high hopes and expectations. The artistic results we've managed to achieve are, without a doubt, my greatest joy. In fact, it's simply amazing how a group of artists living in some cases thousands of miles apart on different continents in widely varying time zones can put together entire new works and programs in a spirit of mutual cooperation, all because of their uncommonly passionate love for interesting new tonal music.

Q: Any final words of wisdom for the emerging musicians among our readers?

A: Don't cave in to the demands of a society that every day and in every way may compel you to relinquish your artistic calling. Unless you're independently wealthy or can muster the financial support of family or friends, the road ahead is likely to be extremely difficult to travel. But if you don't make the effort and undertake the journey, you'll never arrive anywhere that really matters to you and will never aspire to go on to explore new, as yet unimagined destinations. And do take heart, because you don't have to travel alone. Join us!

— Joseph Dillon Ford
Founder & International Coordinator
The Delian Society

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You can get in touch with The Delian Society online. Visit their website at www.deliansociety.org for more information about participating composers, membership, projects, and future events.

© 2011 Molly J. Anderson-Childers. All rights reserved.

Updated 1/10/14