When you live in Kansas City, basically the exact center of the country, and work full time as a music teacher, it can be difficult to reach the students for whom you write music. I have been fortunate enough to live in a time where I can send my work via electronic files, complete with recordings, to musical ensembles who commission my works. I find it amazing that there are some pieces, until they've been published, I've actually never held in my hands prior to the published version! This could fill an entire article on a Schrödinger-like posit: if Jeffrey's music is only pixels, is it alive or dead?
I would say that it is the relationship between the composer and the ensemble for which they write that truly brings a composition to life. It's a symbiotic relationship in the most sincere sense. If I have no ensemble to perform my music, it is just sheets of paper and ink, or in most cases lately, pixels on a screen. Also, musical ensembles have nothing to play if composers have not created the music to perform. And, I'd go one step further to say ARE creating music to perform. Believe it or not, and I'm going to guess that you believe it since you're reading this, composers are alive and well. Not all of us are what musicologists affectionately refer to as DWEMs - dead, white, European males.
Living in today's technologically advanced world, I am able to use such apps as Skype and Facetime to interact with the people bringing my music to life. It is a fascinating, and somewhat mind-boggling, situation in which I can clinic an ensemble in Michigan, Maryland, or Oregon. But yet, here we are, firmly in the 21st Century, surrounded by devices that make connecting through music much easier.
But what, I have to wonder, do the student musicians make of it? Do they understand exactly who that furry little guy on the screen is and what he does? I know my own students often take it for granted that all orchestra teachers write music and conduct it around the country. But then again, I also know that their teenage brains have much more pressing concerns than whether or not I chose to go to the relative minor rather than the subdominant major in a particular passage. How boring!
Perhaps a more fun, if not exactly possible (at least I hope not), experiment would be to bring back some DWEMs (but not as zombies, please) and see what they would do with the technology available to composers today. Would Beethoven abandon the classical side of things and become the next great electronica DJ? Would Mozart eschew his symphonies for the lucrative world of hip hop? And would Prokofiev and Shostakovich, freed of their Soviet censorship, take the freedom of the internet and write what they always wanted to write? I'd like to think so.