Classical of Today

Young composers are constantly creating new works in the classical genre—and will be the first to tell you it’s not a thing of the past.

Angélica Negrón, Matt Aucoin, and Missy Mazzoli are each young composers in the contemporary classical genre. While classical music can seem old and stuffy, it’s hardly that—when you familiarize yourself with the work of Beethoven, Stravinsky, Chopin, and others, you’ll find a world full of emotional depth, excitement, and beauty. There’s a reason that this music has survived and is often used to educate young musicians.

Of course, composers in the contemporary classical genre serve a slightly different purpose. They write for similar instruments and ensembles, such as solo stringed instruments, chamber ensembles, or orchestras. They compose in similar forms, such as operas, concertos, and etudes. But because their music is written today, and not 200 years ago, it is influenced by recent music, current events, and modern culture. As a product of these factors combined with the passionate and inventive minds behind the music, contemporary classical becomes even more relevant.

Below are video interviews with each of the composers featured in the story. Take a look at each and think about what you hear in their music, the impressions you get from their thoughts on composing, and what you like (or don’t like) about their ideas. Whether or not it’s your personal favorite, you might find their music to be both fresh and important.