"The Thinker" with headphones on, shadow side bleeding into a star-speckled photo of outer space

Our Next Step: The 21CMposium

To reimagine how we train the next generation of musicians for a 21st-century world – that was the simple premise behind 21CM. The brainchild of a world famous artist, a brilliant businessman and a forward-thinking music school dean, 21CM was the entrepreneurial response to a paradox.

While music had never been more embraced throughout society, it was concurrently a struggle for musicians to make a living at their art. At least when following traditional paths. 

To train this next generation, we learned first from the trailblazers – those artists successfully creating new niches and paths for themselves. Lead by a national network of educators, administrators, artists and entrepreneurs, the initiative began at DePauw University School of Music with an innovative curriculum and a nationally recognized public platform and magazine – 21CM.org. Our learning objectives included teaching young artists to chase down their curiosities, create around their talents and leverage their collaborative skills. We then asked them to build on that introspection and let the world in, becoming agents for change through their art. 

Today, we are ready for the next step. From Sept. 9–11, Greencastle, Ind., will be the destination for the first 21CMposium – a gathering of music thought leaders and performers seeking answers to problems brought about by a rapidly changing music marketplace. The weekend is a deliberate effort to gather our community of innovative artists, profound thinkers and dynamic change agents to ask fundamental questions about the role and value music plays in today’s society, learn from one another’s wildest successes and epic failures, soak in the brilliance of some of today’s most celebrated musicians and challenge ourselves to find our collective best. 

Converging at the 21CMposium are some of my personal musical heroes, not least of which is Kronos Quartet, the “inventors” of 21st-century performance practices, and Decoda, the adventurous, nimble group of Gen-Xers that followed. I can’t wait to soak up talks from legends and mavericks in the field including journalist Greg Sandow, New Amsterdam Record’s Judd Greenstein, Stanford Thompson of Play On, Philly!, and Ayden Adler, DePauw’s newly appointed dean. 

I anxiously await the arrival of colleagues from across the country who have been leading a sea change in their respective worlds. I also look forward to welcoming visitors who are making the pilgrimage from distances as far away as Japan, India, France, Greece and Egypt. Their global perspectives on the future of music are critical to this discussion. 

We want to include you in this important conversation. Beyond the best talks from the weekend, available in the next few months, our 21CM.org associate editor, Elizabeth Nonemaker, will report live all weekend. Beth will cover talks, jam sessions, participant responses and our first-ever LAUNCH: Emerging Artist Competition. Follow the conversation via our 21CM community Facebook page, Twitter (@21CMusician) and Instagram feeds, and share your own thoughts and experiences of the 21CMposium with the hashtag #21stCM.

Thank you for being part of the revolution and the 21CM community. 

Mark Rabideau

Mark Rabideau is a cultural entrepreneur, busy re-imagining how we must prepare musicians to thrive within the shifting marketplace and cultural landscape of the contemporary moment. …more 

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