As I navigate grad school again it's become increasingly rare to find the space to review concerts, or write anything for that matter. The past eight months have been packed with lots of learning, study, and performance/composition practice.
In the coming months I will be launching an artist website (onto which I'll transfer this blog). I'll let you know when that launches!
A short summary of my year and summer thus far:
I performed lots and even had my first orchestra reading by the Longy Chamber Orchestra. They played a piece for string orchestra based on the work of my biologist husband, who studies the origin of life at Harvard/MGH. Thanks Longy Chamber Orchestra and Maestro Sean Wang!
I've expanded my writing for various instruments, including alto saxophone, violin, viola, cello, bass, french horn, english horn, and piano.
This summer I had the pleasure of writing for Longy's Divergent Studio and working with the incredible Loadbang! The Divergent Trio performed my piece Phantasmagoria for alto sax, piano, and violin. Thanks to Ken Radnofsky (alto sax), Sean Wang (violinist), and Libor Dudas (piano).
During Divergent Studio I had the opportunity to perform Eve Beglarian's very catchy Not Worth accompanied by marimba, cello, violin, and piano. This was especially fun because I got to combine some of my pop-inspired dance moves with the classical voice training I've worked continuously on these past four years! I also had a great time working with pianist Nick Brewer on Charles Wuorinen's Lightnings VIII.
Trombonist Claudia Cangemi and I performed Joe Maneri's alien-esque, microtonal Kohtlyn. Creating subcontext for a piece that consists of a made-up language by the composer was as dramatic as the music is vigorous! This was my first experience singing microtones, and I was happy to find I enjoyed the experience quite a bit! From a compositional perspective, I am fascinated with microtones, and I very much enjoy hearing them performed. But from a singer's perspective, I was both excited and intimidated by them. Overall, I was relieved to find that by the end of the intensive week I had a blast bringing Maneri's challenging piece to life on the stage!
Divergent Studio gave me the chance to partake in a composition masterclass with the one and only Christian Wolff. I presented a work in progress for cello, piano, and violin called The Golem, which is based on Gustav Meyrink's 19th century novel. My thanks to the Horszowski Trio for performing it in Longy's Pickman Hall this past April!
A few weeks ago I came back from a two-week composition intensive at St. Mary's College in South Bend, Indiana. It was my first time ever in the Midwest. Wow! This experience gave me daily blocks of time to focus on composing. I had the pleasure to partake in masterclasses with composers Ingrid Stöltzel and Evan Chambers and work with program director and composer Zae Munn. Spending two solid weeks with other composers from around the country was an enlightening and very fun experience. By the end, I truly felt nostalgic to say goodbye to new friends.
Longy afforded me several opportunities to perform pieces from my song cycle, Songs of Juana Borrero, which sets a 19th century Cuban poetess's words to music. For the first time ever, I set an Emily Dickinson poem, and performed it with the extraordinary pianist composer Jonathan Shin. Finally, I had the honor of performing my song cycle and a cycle of Spanish songs by Elsa Olivieri at the Women Composers Festival of Hartford in April. Big thanks to Penny Brandt for running this festival and being so dedicated to her work there. Also, thank you to my friend, pianist Moriah Trenk for performing the songs with me!
There are many musicians who have entered my life this year whose work I admire and appreciate. Here's a very short list, and I am sorry for forgetting anyone: Joe Borgia (thanks for performing my piece Dormiveglia, and for being funny and a generally lovely human being); Erika Matei, for your piano playing and artistic perspective; Osnat Netzer for being an incredible mentor and supportive composition instructor; Jeremy Van Buskirk for your overall awesomeness in running the composition department at Longy.
My life aside, my friend, pianist and composer, Melinda Faylor, opened a venue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, called Areté, that is seriously making waves in the contemporary music and art community. I am so proud of her for pulling this off, and enriching the scene in NYC and beyond!
Overall it's been a jam packed year. Everyone's still alive and doing well, and I'm even learning how to cook. I can't say I'm happy with the political climate, but I'm looking forward to a blue wave. Aren't you?