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Meet David Ibbett of Music of Reality

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Ibbett.

David, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I came to Boston in 2014 after finishing my Ph.D. in composition back in England. My wife and I were living in London and ready for a change – she was offered a scholarship to take a performance diploma in violin at BU, and I came along for the ride in search of new opportunities. As a composer, we are defined by our collaborations – the network of musicians that we write for, create projects with, and together, find new ways to share music with the world. I arrived in Boston knowing no one, but soon found it to be a very welcoming community. My first commission came from the Transient Canvas ensemble – a fantastic contemporary music duo that I introduced myself to after their show. They needed help packing up the marimba, which gave us the chance to chat about electronic music – my specialty! I composed ‘Branches’ for them, and the piece has now been played over 50 times all over the USA as the ensemble tours. Soon after, I found a teaching position at the Yamaha Music School of Boston, which has allowed me to grow a studio of talented young composers over the past several years.

The next big moment for me was the founding of Music of Reality, a concert series that combines music and science in live performance. Science has always been in my life – my dad is a research chemist back in Nottingham, UK – but it wasn’t until I met Sophia Subbayya Vastek, pianist that it came into my musical life. I first met Sophia when she was called in at the last minute to replace another pianist playing my horn sonata ‘Where the Path Ends’ in NYC. I was worried I’d written something unplayable, but then Sophia played it perfect first time – and we knew we had to work together! Music of Reality was the result. We had our first concert in NYC, and now put on concerts in Boston, New York and DC with 3-4 concerts a year at MIT and other venues.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No! When we arrived in Boston we had no money, knew no one and had little employment. It felt like quite the risk, but turned out to be worth it in so many ways! Boston is wonderful place to live, make music and raise a family. My son, Lawrence, was born in August 2017.

I struggle from time to time with anxiety and depression. I am sure almost everyone does. In England, it is still a stigma to talk about these things, and largely so in the USA. At the worst times, I am paralyzed by overwhelming emotions, and it takes a great deal of work and self-care to keep this at bay. As musicians, we are taught to put the music first, above ourselves, and sacrifice everything to make it happen. This leads to so many young people driven to despair as they equate their self-esteem with their art, and this attitude has to die out. We are people first and this is what makes us good musicians. I was fortunate to find ways to manage my own mental health – a mix of meditation and medication – but society needs to do so much more to make help available to those who suffer.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Music of Reality story. Tell us more about the business.
“Why do we create art? Why do we study the farthest reaches of the universe? And why are we constantly searching and pushing our intellectual and emotional borders in a never-ending reach outwards? While we search for more definition in our understanding of reality, art grasps at that which is indefinable. At its core, Music of Reality aims to demonstrate that these pursuits converge at a point of focus, and, in fact, are one and the same.

Music of Reality is a concert production series founded by Baltimore-based pianist Sophia Subbayya Vastek and Boston-based composer David Ibbett. Our mission is to present events that combine current research, art, and music in thoughtful and stimulating ways. We invite scientists, social anthropologists, educators, and other great minds to share their knowledge and passion as part of an integrated performance with artists and musicians.

We collaborate with people who are passionate about communicating their work to a general audience, with the idea that their research or artistic practice should be accessible to everyone. We are committed to presenting an exciting and diverse array of musical performances, and connecting this programming to our topics through a range of angles – such as commissioned new works, existing works, and a variety of new media.

Each of our events explores a specific topic of research drawn from an ever-increasing spectrum. We began with particle physics and cosmology, journeyed into biology, engineering, and now seek actively for collaborations in any area of sincere inquiry into the world. We work with our community to explore new territory and their interests – and we maintain an open call for ideas and collaborations on our website at all times.

In each event, Music of Reality aims to provide a space where those who are passionate about discovery can come together and find new points of convergence – instigating sparks of creativity that fire in all directions.”

For me, music is a means of communication – a ways of reaching out to share thoughts and emotions in a language that everyone understands. Music of Reality is my way to connect music with the wider world.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Good luck has led me to meet the people that bring joy and music to my life. My wife, Sarah, I met in London on our first day at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. We have been married almost 8 years, and have worked to create a home where we can live joyfully, raise a family and make music.


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Image Credit:

Image 1 credit to Nile Scott. All others credited to Tayla Nebesky except 5 and 6.

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