Polansky and Diamond met in storybook fashion -- in the context of modern
music, that is. “We taught for almost a year at the same school without meeting -- Mills College in Oakland, California,”
Diamond recalls. “Then in 1982, there was a music festival in Santa Cruz, and the composer in residence was John Cage.
It was John’s 70th birthday, and Lou Harrison had a birthday party in Lou’s backyard."
Cage and Harrison were giants of contemporary music. You couldn't ask for a better place for two musicians to meet.
Diamond continues: "So Larry and I went to that, met each other, and we sat down on this
stone bench and said, ‘we could do this project, we could do that together.’” One of their first projects
was Frog Peak, founded that same year. Their marriage came two years later.
might recognize some of the names on Frog Peak’s roster. Lou Harrison; Anthony Braxton, a master of experimental jazz;
James Tenney and Fredric Rzewski, leading figures in the avant-garde. But most of the artists are obscure, and are likely
to stay that way. They are the ones at the core of Frog Peak's mission.
puts it: “We don’t really care whether something sells one copy or a thousand copies. It’s irrelevant to
us, and not just in a philosophical way -- we don’t make any money on anything anyway.”
That's because Frog Peak lets the artists keep control and ownership of their work. Polansky and Diamond see Frog
Peak and their other endeavors with a missionary's sense of purpose. "I have an endowed chair at Dartmouth," says
Polansky. "I don't have to worry about the next paycheck since I've been here."
(Polansky is interrupted by the sounds of a gamelan emanating from Diamond's handbag. It's her cell phone; the ring
tone was composed by Polansky.)
He continues, "I feel honor bound to return as much as I can to the
community. For me, it seems kind of an ethical imperative -- not a religious feeling, but to tithe as much energy and influence
as I possibly can."