Archive for the ‘5 questions to’ Category
The recent release of “Between the Kiss and the Chaos” on Delos was a great opportunity to ask five questions to violinist, composer, and producer Tracy Silverman.
In the notes to your CD, your discussion of Axis and Orbits is fairly technical while your discussion of between the kiss and the chaos focuses on the imagery and the relationship between the artworks and the music. I would be interested to hear some of the musical considerations you had as you were writing that one too.
Interesting! I hadn’t noticed that. Axis and Orbits doesn’t have the same direct visual and dramatic starting point as Between the Kiss, which originated as a puppet opera about artists and therefore had some very tangible inspiration. Axis was more of a technical challenge in it’s inception—to try to create a live semi-improvised work for a single person using loop pedals which retained the type of musical interaction that we expect from ensemble playing. With that as the challenge, each of the 4 pieces ends up in a different emotional place, guided there by the different approaches to using the loop pedal which I was exploring in each movement.
In the first movement, Axis and Orbits, I loved the image of these bodies in space moving silently and consistently and without any regard at all to the random alignments in which they find themselves. I love the idea that one alignment of harmony is no better than another, and I like the nihilism of starting out all lined up and slowly but steadily dissolving into chaos. I wanted a nice contrasting feel to the first movement, so the second movement, Camshaft, has a hard funky, rocky groove. And once I got into the funk, it wanted to turn itself into a band playing a song, complete with different “instruments,” sections, breakdowns, etc. It’s very complicated to pull off live, but hopefully listening to it makes you forget that it’s all done by one person. Sacred Geometry was inspired by the polyphony of crickets, and the simple kaleidoscope of the shifting harmony within a regular rhythmic pulse, (as opposed to Axis and Orbits which has no pulse or meter,) inspired Terry Riley to give it its title. Mojo is me trying to call up the spirit of those crazed eastern european roma violinists who play with a ferocity like they have bleeding entrails still caught in their teeth.
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On Thursday, March 6 at 7:30 pm, Symphony Space will be hosting a concert in honor of the renowned American pianist Ursula Oppens on the occasion of her 70th birthday. Pianists Winston Choi, Ran Dank, Soyeon Kate Lee, and Anthony Molinaro—all former or current students of Oppens—will perform pieces that helped to define her legacy, such as Frederic Rzewski’s, “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!” and Conlon Nancarrow’s “Four Canons for Ursula,” along with other selections.
You are known for commissioning and collaborating with dozens of celebrated composers of our time. I know from my own experience that collaboration and the commissioning process are often also explorations of the musical relationship between performer and composer. Is there (or are there) a particular collaboration(s) that grew in an unexpected direction either, in the resulting work or in the musical relationship?
I am almost always surprised by the works that I have commissioned. Perhaps the greatest surprise was “The People United Will Never Be Defeated” by Frederic Rzewski. Not only because the work is almost one hour long, but especially because I had mainly heard Frederic in the improvisations of Musica Elletronica Viva, which were wildly atonal at that time, and here was a composition which in its first 12 variations goes through the circle of fifths, and then has two sections (12 variations) in D minor. But the essential situation is that I know the previous works of a composer, but cannot imagine the next one.
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Posted by Arlene & Larry Dunn »
For over 85 years The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota has been a important bastion of arts and culture for the entire state of Florida. During the 2013-14 winter season, residents and visiting snowbirds alike are enjoying an ambitious program of contemporary visual art and performances. We interviewed Dwight Currie, Associate Director for Museum Programs at The Ringling, to find out more about their current season.
R. Luke DuBois: Fashionably Late for the Relationship, 2007-08 (video still courtesy of The Ringling Museum)
What was the driving force behind your Winter 2013-14 programming, integrating visual and performing arts disciplines?
The Ringling Museum’s founding director, A. Everett Austin, Jr. – known throughout the world of art as “Chick” – revolutionized modern museum practice by leading the way in the presentation of performance art in American museums. “The function of a museum,” Chick declared, “is more than merely showing pictures. The museum is the place to integrate the arts and bring them alive.”
Inspired by Chick’s words, The Ringling launched the Art of Our Time initiative in 2011 with the mission to present exhibitions and performances that exemplify and explore the rich diversity of ideas and forms at play in the world today. For the 2013-14 season we have mounted NOWHERE: Finding Our Way in the 21st Century, a cross-disciplinary journey into the oft-perceived “nowhere” of contemporary culture through a series of dynamic encounters with the art of “here” and “now.” Within that context, New Stages 2014 is a five-part art-of- performance exhibition.
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Posted by Steven Berryman »
Joby Burgess – Photo Kathy Hinde
As ‘genre-busting’ percussionist, whose work has led you to collaborate with musicians and artists of a variety of disciplines, I wonder where and how this collaborative approach began in your musical career?
Well the variety has always been there: I grew up listening to my Dad’s record collection of jazz, opera, rock, classical and world music, whilst saving my pocket money to buy the latest 7 inch. The categories and perceived barriers in music, to me, have always been just a way to navigate the record store or internet more quickly!
It took me quite some time to seriously pursue percussion—a late convert from drums to gain a place at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where I spent much of my time writing songs and locked down in the electronic music studio. I’d hear something new and interesting and want to work out how to play it or how it was written. This creative urge has meant I am happiest when working in small ensembles and responding to composers who are actually in the room (not 6 feet under!).
Over the years I have worked on developing a certain set of skills, many learnt because it was simply required. In 2001 my duo, New Noise, commissioned Nigel Osborne. The piece contained a solo for berimbau (an ancient African shepherding instrument) that I quickly learnt to hold (then play!), whilst the music for marimba required 6 mallets with endless interval shifts, so I figured out a way of doing it – it was difficult but most importantly those chords needed all those notes. That same year, I learnt Tihai with Nitin Sawhney, worked on a un-scored / semi improvised production of Romeo and Juliet at London’s National Theatre, played Stravinsky under Boulez and joined percussion group ensemblebash.
Playing and working with so many different sorts of music and musicians keeps me constantly learning new methods and techniques, ready to come to each new project with fresh ears.
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Posted by Thomas Deneuville »
Tomorrow, Friday, January 17, Jonathan Biss “one of the most thoughtful and technically accomplished pianists of the younger generation” (BBC Music Magazine) will perform music by Brahms, Beethoven, Chopin and Kurtág at Carnegie Hall. Biss kindly took the time to answer 5 questions about his MOOC experience, Kurtág, and his Beethoven project…
You have recently taught a five-week course on Beethoven’s piano sonatas to 35,000 participants in partnership with Coursera. Can you tell us about this experience?
Quite honestly, it shocked me. This was not only my first experience with Coursera: it was, to my knowledge, the first ever classical music MOOC. Given that it was uncharted territory, it’s not exactly right to say that it exceeded my expectations, because I had no expectations! But I certainly never could have imagined that tens of thousands of people would sign up; that there would be hundreds of spirited and serious discussion threads on the course forum; that huge numbers of people of all backgrounds would turn out to be as nerdy about sonata form as I am; that this number of people would interact in an unfailingly civil, yet also passionate manner. It was quite the challenge to my natural cynicism!
Jonathan Biss – Photo by Benjamin Ealovega
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At the beginning of 2013, Seattle-based composer Madeleine Cocolas made a resolution to write one piece a week for the entire year. The resulting project, “52 Weeks”, is documented on her blog and SoundCloud page, where listeners can hear Cocolas’ compositions and follow her progress from week to week. Over the New Year holiday, Cocolas took a short break from writing music to discuss “52 Weeks” and her compositional process.
Tell me about the story behind 52 Weeks. What inspired you to start this project?
I was working as a Music Supervisor in Melbourne, Australia (which involved sourcing and licensing music for TV shows), when my husband unexpectedly got offered a job in Seattle. We made the decision to move over to the States, but I initially wasn’t allowed to work in Seattle (for boring visa reasons), so I knew that I would have to make my own opportunities while living here.
I’ve been composing music and playing piano most of my life, but up to now it hadn’t been something I pursued seriously. I decided that it would be the perfect time to compose seriously and as a full time venture, but I knew I would need to construct some goals for myself, partly for self-discipline, and partly so I didn’t feel overwhelmed. I fairly impulsively decided to write a piece of music every week for 52 weeks, and promptly set up a blog to track my journey and a SoundCloud page to post my pieces every week.
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