25 Sep 2014

Inheritance: Interview with Ramon P Santos

As contemporary art music goes global, Ramon Pagayon Santos searches the Asian soul
- Off The Edge, April 2007

The Asian composer faces a very special dilemma by nature of his or her profession - the struggle against the dissonances that arise between the inherited traditions of the East and the acquired compositional tools of the West. At the Asia Pacific Festival and Conference 2007, where past met present and the avant-garde met the traditional in meaningful counterpoint, the issue seemed all the more relevant. Whose music were we celebrating? Can we really lay claim to this tradition? 

For Filipino composer, educator and music activist Ramon Pagayon Santos, whose keynote address during the conference centred on these issues, our  

OTE: From what you’ve seen and heard during this festival, where do you think Asian composers are heading? 

Ramon Pagayon Santos: What we’re seeing here is very significant; we share the same goal of creating a new musical environment in Asia [from a very general perspective]. But while we may have commonalities in our formal training [in music composition], the commonality stops there because we come from different cultural environments, with differences in our histories in art, music and so on. Asia is like that. 

Right now, I find something substantial happening. Listening to the concerts [at this festival], it seems that the pieces performed, whether from a traditional music or contemporary/art music standpoint, seem to be undergoing change – there is a kind of cross fertilisation taking place.  
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