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‘Composers Now’ shining light on NYC composers

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MANHATTAN (PIX11) -- When it comes to composers, you're probably familiar with John Williams, author of classic movie themes like Star Wars and Jurassic Park. But how many other composers can you name?

Struggling? Well chances are you're not alone. Which is why composer and Brooklyn College Professor Tania Leon formed the group Composers Now.

"There are many, many composers that live in your neighborhood, that you probably have no idea that they are there and what they are contributing to the society as well," said Leon.

At the Composers Now events, composers like Martha Mooke the opportunity to meet their audience and discuss the motivation behind their work.  Mooke says just knowing that the creator of a work is still living and breathing adds a new dimension to the music for the listener.

"So often they go to a concert and the composers are dead," said Mooke. "Usually dead white guys. So to have somebody that's alive really enhances that. And hopefully they'll want to come back and hear some more."

I had the chance to attend one of the events cosponsored by the group Women in Music at The Cutting Room in Kips Bay.

"It's important to support things like this," said Cutting Room Owner Steve Walter. "Especially in New York City as live music is falling by the wayside, it's all this electronic stuff."

"It's so easy for people in the music industry, both on the artist side and the business side, to stay within their particular area; jazz folks stay with jazz folks, rock and roll with rock and roll, and they don't tend to get chances to meet each other," said Neet Ragoowansi, President of Women In Music.

One of the goals of the Composers Now festival is to highlight innovative composers in new music like Angelica Negron who uses vegetables to play synthesized sounds in her music. "I'm really interested in making the performance of electronic music a little more dynamic so it's not just someone looking at a laptop," said Negron.

Composer Annie Gosfield found her sounds during a natural disaster, combining elements from Composer Claude Debussy with sounds of Superstorm Sandy.  "It just became this emotional diary of what was going on in everybody's life at the time," said Gosfield.

Leon says that's what creating music is all about: using life events to appeal to a certain group whether it's based on genre, geography, or culture. And knowing a little about the person who created that music helps the listener understand the music a little better.

"All the music in the world is written by someone, and that someone is a composer," said Leon.