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The Rise and Fall of “Indie Classical”: Tracing a Controversial Term in Twenty-First Century New Music



In its inaugural 2007 press release, New York–based New Amsterdam Records announced its mission to “foster a sense of connection among musicians and fans in this ‘indie classical’ scene.” New Amsterdam's publicity apparatus brought “indie classical” into widespread media circulation, but by 2013 the label had ceased using the term. In the intervening years, the meaning of indie classical had been hotly contested by the community of musicians it was meant to champion. Drawing on more than fifty interviews, archival research, and reception history from traditional publications and new online sources, I recreate the rise and fall of indie classical as it transpired over a decade. Tracing the background of the composers and performers who first labeled themselves as indie classical, unveiling the origins of the term and how it was disseminated, and examining the debates that surrounded it and its subsequent decline reveals how the aesthetic discourse of new music is constructed in the twenty-first century.



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Unless otherwise noted, interviews were conducted in person.
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Lee, Andrea. Interview with author, November 16, 2014.
Little, David T. Interview with author, December 7, 2015.
Marks, Matt. Interview with author, September 21, 2015.
Mazzoli, Missy. Interview with author, November 10, 2015.
McBane, Matt. Interview with author, September 19, 2015.
Mizrahi, Michael. Interview with author, November 6, 2015.
Moore, Lisa. Interview with author, December 18, 2015.
Morgan, Gayle. Interview with author, December 22, 2015.
Nordstrum, Kate. Interview with author, January 18, 2016.
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Rockwell, John. Interview with author, March 5, 2015.
Ross, Alex. Interview with author, December 16, 2015.
Ryan, Norman. Interview with author, November 2, 2015.
Sadigursky, Sam. Interview with author, November 9, 2015.
Savelson, Kenny. Interview with author, December 8, 2015.
Schaefer, John. Interview with author, December 2, 2015.
Schick, Steve. Phone interview with author, December 21, 2015.
Sirota, Nadia. Interview with author, November 17, 2014.
Snider, Sarah Kirkland. Phone interview with author, March 22, 2014.
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Sopp, Alex. Interview with author, November 18, 2014.
Supko, John. Interview with author, September 3, 2014.
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Wolfe, Julia. Interview with author, February 28, 2016.
Young, Jeffrey. Interview with author, November 22, 2014.
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The Rise and Fall of “Indie Classical”: Tracing a Controversial Term in Twenty-First Century New Music



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