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February 13, 2017

How do we love OpenICE? Let us count the ways

by Arlene and Larry Dunn (@ICEfansArleneLD)

We haven’t been in the pages of the ICEblog much recently, though we've had no shortage of ICE events to feed upon. We are swooping back in at this juncture because we are committed to immersing ourselves more deeply into OpenICE as it moves into its second season. What we love most about OpenICE is, well, its openness. By design, it is open with respect to venue, genre, instrumentation, audience, community, etc. But most exciting, OpenICE is open to the unknown.

OpenICE workshop in Chicago with composer Wojtek Blecharz (photo by Larry Dunn)

We had the opportunity to meet with OpenICE co-directors Alice Teyssier and Ryan Muncy in Chicago last December to learn more about where OpenICE is headed. This season they will start working with four composers — Wojtek Blecharz, Morgan Krauss, Monte Webber, and Sabrina Schroeder — to collaboratively develop new evening-length works over the next two years. The parameters around these projects are, you guessed it, open! The composers were selected based on proposals they submitted that only outlined the driving concept for the piece. The process is beginning with workshops with each composer (open to anyone who would like to attend) where they are starting with a blank slate. Everything is on the table to be developed in the workshops —- instrumentation, size, style, length, venue, lighting, theatrics, movement, electronics, you name it. The objective is to unleash ideas and generate work that could never be done without this sort of radically open collaboration.

This latest concept was inspired, in part, by a workshop Levy Lorenzo led in November to teach 10 participants to build a new electronic instrument, compose pieces for those instruments, and then play the pieces, all in one three-hour session. It opened a whole new platform for creating new collaborative compositions. The session fulfilled so many ICE purposes – sharing skills, education, collaboration – that OpenICE wanted to build off this idea. OpenICE is providing agency for ICE members to take their own area of expertise, try something new with it and expand the community in the process. It’s a very ICE-y way of working – making music together and expanding the circle. As this evolves, it could even be adapted to include untrained musicians and the public in ways beyond just listening, to become deeper participants, certainly in the discussion and development process, and perhaps even as performers. The possibilities are virtually limitless. We were able to participate in the first of these new OpenICE workshops with composer Wojtek Blecharz in December and it was exhilarating to be there at the inception of a new work of art. Is it any wonder we came away committed to get more involved?

ICE member Levy Lorenzo leading OpenICE — Electronic Etudes No. 1 Workshop

So now we are about to head out on the road for a long weekend of OpenICE activity, starting Thursday with the inaugural OpenICE performance in Fort Wayne, Indiana, ICE clarinetist Campbell MacDonald’s hometown. Then it’s on to Chicago, where there will be the added excitement of starting a new ICE working relationship with the Rebuild Foundation, which was founded and is led by visionary artist and activist Theaster Gates. Most events during this four-day Chicago session of OpenICE will be held in Rebuild Foundation venues Stony Island Arts Bank and Dorchester Arts and Housing Collaborative. Included in this week’s events are composer workshops with Morgan Krauss, an improvisation session with Glass Lantern and  resident artists Train and Maggie Brown, and a Sunday afternoon concert at Chicago Cultural Center.

This Chicago session of OpenICE will conclude with the Midwest premiere of Tyshawn Sorey’s Perle Noire: Meditations on Joséphine, which explores the music, artistry, and inner life of Josephine Baker. This work features soprano Julia Bullock embodying Josephine, with Alice Teyssier (flute), Ryan Muncy (saxophone), Rebekah Heller (bassoon), Jennifer Curtis (violin) Dan Lippel (guitar), and the composer on drums and piano. We were fortunate to be the world premiere in Ojai last summer and it was one of the most moving musical experiences we’ve had. We can’t wait to hear it again in its latest iteration. All OpenICE events are free, However, Perle Noire requires advance reservations, available here.

January 24, 2017

George Lewis: The Will to Adorn

ICE is delighted to release our fifth disc on the Tundra label: George Lewis's The Will to Adorn.  Comprising mostly live recordings from 2011-2016, this recording shows the extent to which George's performance practice has influenced ICE's aesthetic.  He writes, "...as with all improvisations, including our everyday-life human efforts, the performance becomes an emergent phenomenon, achieved through negotiation; success will be less a matter of individual freedom than of personal responsibility." The CD also includes a solo trombone performance by the composer of T.J. Anderson's In Memoriam Albert Lee Murray (2013).

Here are a few excerpts from the CD liner notes, with George's own descriptions of the included works that were commissioned by ICE.

The Will to Adorn (2011)

Zora Neale Hurston’s 1934 essay, “Characteristics of Negro Expression,” cites “the will to adorn” as a crucial characteristic of black expressivity, by way of this example:

     I saw in Mobile a room in which there was an over-stuffed mohair living-room suite, an imitation mahogany bed
     and chifferobe, a console victrola. The walls were gaily papered with Sunday supplements of the Mobile Register.
     There were seven calendars and three wall pockets. One of them was decorated with a lace doily. The mantel-shelf
     was covered with a scarf of deep home-made lace, looped up with a huge bow of pink crepe paper. Over the door
     was a huge lithograph showing the Treaty of Versailles beingsigned with a Waterman fountain pen.

What I'm interested in is adornment as a compositional attitude or method – for example, Hurston’s notion of “decorating a decoration,” which is a recursive move. One can imagine the music as a response to the complexity of the scene that greeted Hurston in her fieldwork. The work was composed for ICE.

Born Obbligato (2013)

This work, commissioned by ICE, is conceived in dialogue with Beethoven’s Septet Op. 20 (1800). Beethoven scholar Nicholas Mathew, to whom the work is dedicated, pointed out to me that the Septet’s convivial affect deviates markedly from the standard image of Beethovenian fist-shaking.  As the story goes, in his later years the composer found the work’s popularity a source of chagrin, reportedly responding to a compliment by growling, “Mozart wrote that.”

Both the title and musical intent of Born Obbligato derive from a remark Beethoven made in an 1800 letter to his Leipzig publisher, in which he announced “a septet per il violino, viola, violoncello, contrabass, clarinett, corno, fagotto – tutti obligati”– adding parenthetically, “I cannot write anything that is not obbligato, for I was already born with an obbligato accompaniment.” Or at least, that is what a common English translation tells us. The German is a bit more ambiguous: “Ich kann gar nichts unobligates schreiben, weil ich schon mit einem obligaten Akkompagnement auf die Welt gekommen bin.” The translation of the seldom-used word “unobligates” (i.e., not required) as referring to style refers to the Septet’s texture, but Beethoven’s use of the expression “obligates Akkompagnement” to describe the circumstances of his birth invokes the sign of enigma.

Born Obbligato borrows from the Septet’s structure and texture, if not its conviviality.  The addition of percussion and digital transformation and spatialization in the fourth movement (“Tema con Variazioni”) pays homage to the conductor Steven Schick, who performs here in his other capacity as world-class percussionist. 

December 12, 2016

Camila Agosto, an ICEcommons Entry, and an OpenICE Premiere

Composer Camila Agosto has been one of the nicest surprises to come to ICE in a long while.  When ICE chose her to be represented on a November OpenICE concert at the Abrons Arts Center, we had no idea she was only twenty-one!  Camila describes her experience here, and video of the concert will follow soon on DigitICE.  Based in Baltimore, Camila brought family, co-workers, and fans to the November 12 concert, many of whom were having their first experience with new music.

- - - - - - -

I first found out about ICEcommons when I participated in an open forum hosted by ICE in late October of this year. The forum was a presentation and large group discussion about ICE’s archive metafields.org. It’s a free archive for performers and composers to use to find and share new works. After the forum, I had the chance to speak one-on-one with both Ryan Muncy and Alice Teyssier about this new initiative and my own works, and they suggested that I post some of work on the archive. I chose to post a trio I recently composed, Listen to me as one listens to the rain, a piece that explores the process a person goes through as they slowly lose their ability to communicate with the world around them. This piece is near to my heart and was inspired by someone close to me; I chose to post it because I felt that it represented a different aspect of myself and my work that I hadn’t yet explored. It is written for flute, soprano saxophone, and a percussion instrument I designed, and I thought that since I met Ryan, Alice, and Ross, this would be a good piece to post. A few weeks later, I received an email from Ryan expressing his interest in my work, as well as a possible performance of this piece in their OpenICE season. I was floored when I read this email. I had no expectations when I posted my work, so getting a response from members of ICE was absolutely incredible. 

Working with Ross, Alice, and Ryan has been amazing! They all took such great care to keep me informed of the logistical details for this concert, and to capture all of the nuances within this piece. When I sat in the audience during the dress rehearsal/sound check, it was an unbelievable experience to hear this piece come to life in a new way. Being able to use an archive like Metafields, and having such a positive experience come out of one post is incredible. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to continue to share my music with others, and I hope that more people will take advantage of this archive and get to know the ICEcommons initiative!

November 17, 2016

Marcos Balter on Tundra

by Jacob Greenberg, ICE Director of Recordings and Digital Outreach

Tundra, ICE's in-house recording label and an imprint of New Focus Recordings, has been busy lately.  Ryan Muncy's brilliant second solo album ism appeared in September, and just two months later, we're holding in our hands Aesopica, a retrospective of ICE's long collaboration with composer Marcos Balter.  Aesopica collects five pieces written for the members of ICE over seven years; one was developed in the ICElab program (Aesopica), one written for the occasion of a retrospective of György Ligeti in Los Angeles (ligare), and three others for small groups of ICE soloists.  Below are some remarks from ICE members, reprinted from the CD booklet, about our productive partnership with Marcos.

Ryan Muncy, saxophone

Wicker Park was my very first collaboration with Marcos Balter.  Recalling the energy and vitality of the famous Chicago neighborhood from the turn of the millennium, the work marks Marcos's first time writing for saxophone, and has quickly become one of his most-played pieces.  Wicker Park embraces the soprano saxophone's idiosyncrasies, using mechanical sounds and breathiness as expressive features.

Nadia Sirota, viola

To celebrate his fortieth birthday, Marcos wrote a joyous suite of miniatures that shows off four of his closest collaborators.  Codex Seraphinianus is inspired by the Luigi Serafini work of the same name, a 127-page illustrated volume that is a kind of alien encyclopedia.  The pages lay out indexes of different items: natural, man-made, and uncanny hybrids.  This book is written in an invented, perhaps untranslatable language, yet to a curious reader, it has a strange internal logic.  Inspired by its numerological patterns, Marcos fashioned eleven movements that play with the edge of understanding.

Claire Chase, flute

When the Art Institute of Chicago asked me to invite a composer to write a new work for solo flute inspired by the museum's permanent collection, Marcos Balter immediately leapt to mind.  There was one piece in the Modern Wing, Cy Twombly's Return from Parnassus, by which I'd spent countless hours losing time, dreaming, meandering in colors, shapes, numbers, textures.  And so Descent from Parnassus was born.  The flutist recites (by turns whispering, screaming, singing, and scatting) a text from Book One of Dante's Canto Paradiso.  The work pushes the limits of the instrument and the body, just as Twombly's brush strokes seem to skyrocket off the edges of the canvas and into a celestial space.  Tragically, Twombly died just before the premiere of the work.

Jacob Greenberg, piano

ligare paints a placid yet eerie landscape.  György Ligeti is recalled by the slow-moving microtones, passed among the six instruments, but the effect of the ensemble's whistling is entirely new, a signature device of the composer.  A listener asks: where do these disembodied sounds come from, and why do they create such unease?

Rebekah Heller, bassoon

Aesopica was Marcos's first large ensemble piece for ICE.  This whimsical yet intricate suite of vignettes, drawn from the larger semistaged work, adapts texts from Aesop's Fables.  My favorite, "The Boastful Lamp," is a duet between the tenor Peter Tantsits and myself on a deconstructed bassoon (the wing joint, the part of the bassoon that looks like a mini-saxophone) that we dubbed an "oon."  Each of the movements in this suite transports the listener to tiny universes of sound, unique and fully realized.

Marcos Balter, composer

My collaborations with ICE are the fruit of artistic kinship as much as they are of close friendships.  Like may of my compositional heroes from the past, I prefer writing for people I know well and whom I know will understand and enhance my vision.  As luck would have it, my dear friends from ICE are among the most skilled and sensitive performers a composer could dream of.  The challenge, then, is to continue to push the envelope, mine and theirs, never settling for anything less than complete artistic truth.  My music for ICE is very much like a diary of my own trajectory as a composer.

Stay tuned for more releases coming soon on Tundra!  The fifth title on the label, music of another wonderful collaborator, George Lewis, will drop in January!  

November 11, 2016

On the Life of a Piece

By Ross Karre, Co-Artistic Director and Director of DigitICE.org

At ICE, we talk a lot about pieces of music. Pieces are the building blocks of our events. They define the story that is told through our concert season. But looking deeper, a piece of music is also a hub of communication. It’s a sonic expression of a composer’s vision. It’s an act of translation on the part of the ICE musicians. And it’s an art of interpretation and discovery for our audience members. Creating new pieces and new interpretations is central to our day-to-day activity. It’s the reason that we do what we do.

Recently, we have begun to consider the entire life of a piece from a holistic point of view. Is a piece of music only its performance on stage? We think not. The reality is that most people don’t experience these new pieces in live performance. The majority of new music experiences happen via reading, viewing photos, watching videos, or listening to recordings online. While a premiere of a new work may have 40 people in its audience, thousands of people experience the piece online in faraway places.

Ashley Fure: The Force of Things - Darmstadt Summer Courses

We often “measure” music by metrics related to its immediacy: seating attendance, video views, record sales.The larger impact to the community comes from the small ripple effects of the other components of a piece’s life: the sketches leading to a new composition, the email threads between composer and performer, the rehearsal photos spread via social media, and the relationships built in the process. After the premiere, a piece has a legacy of transformation. It becomes a palimpsest as rehearsal notes and marginalia are added, erased, and scribbled on the printed sheet music. Second performances, studio recordings, critical reviews, anniversary concerts, and musicological study also contribute to the life of a piece.

Over the past five years, ICE has built a number of initiatives to make visible these larger aspects of the piece's life cycle, in the hope of enriching the audience experience and deepening a listener's investment in the new music community.  One of the most important parts of the life cycle is ICE’s process of discovery. In the past, composers sent large packages of beautiful scores to our ICEhaus rehearsal space in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Our paper library of scores by composers from all over the globe occupies dozens of shelves. More recently, composers have sent these scores via email in PDF form. We welcomed this change with open arms, and it led to the creation of ICEcommons.

The ICEcommons.org library is a hybrid of a traditional call-for-scores and a crowdsourced reference system of new works. Composers are encouraged to add information regarding their works list to ICEcommons. When ICE (and any other ensemble or performance org) wants to find a new work with a non-traditional instrumentation, we look to ICEcommons first. As we get to know the piece, we use our LUIGI musical database software to catalog information about the work: rehearsal schedules, personnel lists, performance dates, and all of the minutiae related to the performance of a new work. Finally, our live performance videos are collected and distributed on our free library: Digitice.org. Pieces come into ICE’s ecosystem via ICEcommons and they are delivered to the world via Digitice.org. These libraries allow us to bring new audiences to this music and advocate for emerging and underrepresented composers. Our hope is that this three-phase summary of the life of a piece - DISCOVER, COLLECT, ADVOCATE - can become a consistent and holistic part of our daily practice, and we can use these new tools to make a piece available to the widest possible global audience.

As an example, let’s look to the piece of music ICE created with Ashley Fure from early 2015 until Summer of 2016 in Darmstadt for its premiere. The work, The Force of Things, was a collaborative, intermedia hybrid from the get-go. From the initial meetings and development rehearsals of the piece, we committed to capturing the process in video, still, and written form. The piece developed in several places and times throughout the season. The University of Michigan Liberty Annex at the Taubman School of Architecture played host to the material tests for this object opera while Miller Theatre at Columbia University presented a premiere of a segment of the work. Abrons Arts Center was a second home for the piece’s continuation as we prepared to present a second excerpt at Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn.

Photo: Ashley Fure with The Force of Things team: Ross Karre, Levy Lorenzo, Rebekah Heller, Alice Teyssier, Lucy Dhegrae, Ryan Muncy, Kivie Cahn-Lipman, Nick Houfek. Abrons Arts Center

Finally, at the official premiere in Darmstadt, Germany, we continued revising the work until the downbeat. The process of creation was meticulously documented and layered in a beautiful trailer created by the Digitice.org media team (Ross Karre, Merve Kayan, Monica Duncan, Bradley Rosen, and Caley Monahon-Ward).

The Force of Things’s life enters new stages with upcoming presentations at the University of Michigan, PEAK Performances in Montclair New Jersey, and additional possibilities around the world. The Force of Things also has led to three smaller works which will have their own lives: Shiver Lung for seven players, Etudes from the Anthropocene for septet and large silicone structure, and Shiver Lung 2 for percussion and electronics. The origin of the idea, which started as a conversation in a bar in Darmstadt 2014 between Ashley Fure and Ryan Muncy, became its own world of creation, spawning new projects with a linked consciousness; and every detail of the work's gestation became an essential element in its forward motion. ICE believes that its documentation of this process is inextricable from the way The Force of Things took shape.

Photo: Ross Karre testing the new monocord system with custom styrofoam bridges. 

ICEcommons has also spurred the lives of several pieces which are new to ICE but were created by other composer-performer pairings. Monte Weber, Mauricio Pauly, Seth Cluett, Ann Cleare, David Coll, Camila Agosto, and many more have had their works discovered via their contributions to ICEcommons. Each will have outlets on Digitice.org, social media, photos, text, and audience conversations at concert after-parties and open rehearsals.

Photo: ICEcommons selection Objects in Stillness by Seth Cluett. Abrons Arts Center Playhouse. Also viewable on Digitice.org. 

ICE makes the communal nature of musical creation into a public endeavor--connecting performers, composers, and audiences via open libraries and forums. We know that a piece isn't confined to its rehearsals and performances; it needs and deserves more. And the musical community thrives when we communicate creatively across many platforms. Stay tuned to iceorg.org as we continue to DISCOVER, COLLECT, and ADVOCATE.

October 16, 2016

From Claire Chase

Dear Friends,

I have some exciting news to share with you. The New York Times announced that after 15 years, I am proudly passing the Artistic Director torch to my beloved colleagues Joshua Rubin and Ross Karre. Together with Vanessa Rose, our Executive Director, they will lead ICE through another electrifying evolution.

Today we are celebrating at ICE. This is an occasion of rebirth, metamorphosis, and, in many senses, formation. When I formed ICE with my classmates at Oberlin a decade and a half ago, we had big, bold, audacious dreams: we wanted to create an artist collective in the tradition of radical trailblazers like the AACM; we wanted to form an American ensemble that played the music of our time with the precision and distinction of European groups like EIC; and we wanted to forge a new kind of non-profit organization, one with a hybrid and adaptive identity as a producer, advocate, educator, and transformative force for cultural change.

We wanted to create an institution dedicated fiercely and uncompromisingly to new work – dedicated, importantly, to the work of our generation of artists, vital work by underrepresented composers, improvisers and music-makers toiling gutsily in the margins. This organization would be as indispensable to the life of a city as its symphony orchestras, opera, and theater companies. I said this very thing to the New York Times back in 2007, when Steve Smith wrote a profile on ICE’s work as we were setting up shop in the Brooklyn loft affectionately known as ICEHaus.

With your support – you, our treasured community of listeners and friends, fellow artists and advocates – ICE has accomplished all this and more. A quick scan of our 2015-16 season showed that rather than rain, snow, or a meteorological catastrophe, there was a 42% chance of an ICE concert on any given day. Last year alone, the group played 151 shows, gave 91 premieres, and performed 10 new operas. We also had an outpouring of new programming through OpenICE that was free and open to the public – something that has been central to ICE’s mission since our very first free public concerts in Chicago in 2002.

Each of these programs, each of these pieces, and each of the unforgettable musical moments that fuel them is a formation – a new beginning, the restless and sensuous act of creating, making, changing– a practice that this group of artists does more fearlessly and faithfully than any group of people I have ever known. Making something beautiful out of whatever we have is the daily, hourly, and lifelong work of this organization.

On January 6, 2002, the original ICE formation was a ragtag concert at The Three Arts Club in Chicago. We produced it with $603, which was what I had in my bank account at the time – amassed from my holiday catering tips. Investing what I had in the dream of ICE was the best financial and artistic decision of my life. I am as proud of that decision as I am of my decision to invest my MacArthur award in ICE’s programs and in nonprofit causes in the new music field. Thousands of people have joined me in contributing to the ICE cause and to our community’s shared cause over the years.      

And so today, as I lovingly hand the reins of ICE’s direction to my brilliant band mates and executive staff, I am proud to unveil ICE Formation, a new initiative that will seed ever more audacious formations by ICE’s artists and collaborators. I logged into LUIGI, ICE’s database (named, of course, after Luigi Nono, for his collaborative ideals) to see what I had made in concert fees playing with ICE last season. LUIGI told me it was $25,650, an amount that in 2002 I never, in a million years, would have believed I’d make playing the music that I love most with the people I love most.

I am donating that amount - $25,650 - to ICE Formation today with the same spirit of adventure and big dreams as when I gave $603 to ICE. With this donation, I am thrilled to smash the champagne bottle on the launch of a new era, to celebrate the infinitely regenerative act of formation, and the process of crystallization that is the liquid shore of ICE.

I won’t be straying far from the ICE nest. I will stay deeply involved in the organization’s work as a band member, staff member and cheerleader of the ICE artists’ metamorphic vision for the field.

I am delighted to share with you that as of this afternoon, we have already had several donors match my contribution, making the ICE Formation $115,000 on its first day out of the box. Will you join me with a contribution? Let’s make something beautiful with whatever we have.

To the future!

Yours adventurously,

Claire Chase

ICE Formation artwork by Maryam Khosrovani    

September 22, 2016

OpenICE Launch Weekend in Pictures!

The opening weekend of 16-17 OpenICE at the Abrons Arts Center was a resounding success!  Between concerts, information sessions, and education workshops, ICE opened its arms to the public with free admission all around!

Friday evening opened with a Gallery concert of works from the spare, intense tradition of Wandelweiser composers.  Erik Carlson returned to ICE from San Diego to share his expertise, and Alice Teyssier alternated as vocalist and flutist with incredible focus.  

The main event on Friday in the Playhouse involved the participation of the incredible students of the University of South Carolina--some of them non-music majors--for an epically dramatic performance of Michael Pisaro's Ricefall(2), for rice falling on varied amplified objects.  The USC students bravely came up to New York by bus for the concert!

After a happy detour to an elementary school class at the Henry Street Settlement...

...the celebration of Michael Pisaro's music continued on Saturday in the Gallery, with four hour-long presentations of the 4 Messages, with Erik Carlson joined this time by Dan Lippel on guitar.  Back in the Playhouse later on, ICE gave the local premiere of Seth Cluett's Objects in Stillness, selected from the ICEcommons open call for scores.  Works by Elliott Carter, Christopher Bailey, and Wojtek Blecharz (for reed box!) completed the program.  

To explain the evolution of ICEcommons and ICE's new collaboration with New York Public Library and Nordic Music Days, Ross Karre led a Public Archiving Forum with a rapt audience.  

The Playhouse events finished on Sunday with two dramatic concerts.  First was a portrait concert of Anna Thorvaldsdottir, which included the world premiere or her Sequences for quartet of low winds, as well as multimedia solo works.

The grand finale was a no-holds-barred improv jam session with the best in the field: Peter Evans on trumpet, Cory Smythe on piano, hornist David Byrd-Marrow, Dan Lippel on guitar, and guest vocalist Sofia Jernberg.  ICE is grateful for the wonderful audiences who reveled with us all weekend!  There was a shared creative energy with everyone who attended and participated!

August 20, 2016

Mostly Mozart 50 Interviews: David T. Little, Seven Responses Project

A conversation between Martine Thomas (ICE intern) and David T. Little (composer) about his new work, "dress in magic amulets, dark, from My feet". A response to Dietrich Buxtehude's cantata, Membra Jesu Nostri, this work and six other responses will be presented alongside the original cantata in two performances by ICE, Quicksilver, and The Crossing at Lincoln Center on August 21 for the Mostly Mozart Festival.

MT: In your program notes, you mention "the troubling historic use of crucifixion nails as magic or medicinal amulets." Could you elaborate on this history and how it informs the piece?

DTL: In my research for this piece I discovered that the nails used in crucifixions were often collected afterwards to be re-purposed as healing or magic amulets. I found myself imagining what it would mean for Christ, on the cross, to have known this; to know that after he was dead, the nails piercing his body would be taken for this superstitious use. His response, I imagined, would be something like a reinterpretation of "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani" (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) except directed at the people, rather than to God. That's the idea behind the work.

MT: How would you describe the relationship between Buxtehude's cantata and your piece? Was the cantata more of a launching point or a source of direct musical interaction?

DTL: At first, I had grand plans for a five movement work, emulating the form of the Buxtehude, etc. But as my response progressed--as is often the case for me--the original plan was cast aside. So the resulting piece is more about my own meditation on both Buxtehude's music in general, and on the ideas he explored in particular. Only a few small musical details crept in referencing the original Ad pedes.

MT: What vocabulary or imagery would you describe the soundscape of this piece? How would you describe the emotional center of this piece?

DTL: I was very interested in the idea of opposing forces: of a figure being held upright, suspended by nails in the hands and feet, while at the same time being pulled downward by gravity. The feet upon the suppedaneum became the tense nexus of these forces and a specific location of great pain. This tension informed the sound world significantly--which itself dictated instrumentation--and really serves as the emotional center of the piece. As the text says, "magic pain."

MT: From your perspective as composer, how does this piece interact with your larger body of work?

DTL: This is the only piece I've written that could even loosely be considered "sacred" in the traditional Judeo-Christian sense. (The only other work that comes close is Sunday Morning Trepanation from 2002, which equates going to church to getting holes drilled into your head. Definitely not sacred). That said, my work over the last few years has increasingly dealt with mystical, mythical, spiritual, and existential questions, and all of my work is on some level concerned with drama. This piece--and the way I approached the response in general--is definitely in line with all of this.

 

Learn more about the Seven Responses event here: 

http://iceorg.org/events/event/mostly-mozart-seven-responses-parts-1-and-2#.V7eoO5MrL-Z

 

Photo by Merri Cyr