An Orchestra for Rebecca Clarke by Anne Lanzilotti

I’ll be performing the Rebecca Clarke Viola Sonata with the University of Northern Colorado Symphony Orchestra this Wednesday—exactly 99 years after the premiere of the original Sonata! This new orchestration was done by composer Ruth Lomon, and it complements the colors in the viola part, bringing new life to the piece. I’m excited to perform this new version as a part of celebrating the centennial of the three 1919 Viola Sonatas by Clarke, Bloch, and Hindemith (which I’m further commemorating with The 20/19 Project).

Originally written for Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge’s composition competition in 1919, Clarke’s Viola Sonata faded into obscurity, until in 1976 Toby Apple and Emmanuel Ax performed it on WQXR as part of a program celebrating Clarke’s 90th birthday. The performance inspired violists to research more about the wonderful work, and it is now a standard part of the our repertoire.

 Violist-composer Rebecca Clarke

Violist-composer Rebecca Clarke

Clarke was born in the UK in 1886. She studied composition at the Royal College of Music in London from 1907–10, but her studies stopped abruptly before she was able to finish. In Liane Curtis’s article for The Musical Times, she explains this was because Clarke “quarreled with her father, who threw her out of the house, forcing her to earn her own way as a violist.”

Clarke went on to have a vibrant career as a touring viola soloist and chamber musician in her young adulthood. According to The New Grove Dictionary, “she performed extensively in Hawaiʻi in 1918–1919.” (I’d like to think that she wrote at least some of the Viola Sonata during her time in my home state!) As a composer, both her Viola Sonata (1919) and her Piano Trio (1921) were in the final round of Coolidge’s competitions for those respective years, and Coolidge eventually commissioned Clarke in 1923 to write a cello and piano work.

Clarke’s compositional output waned after this, due to various outside forces. Today, the Viola Sonata is her most famous and frequently played work. To learn more about Clarke’s life, read Liane Curtis’s article, and to read more in depth about the Viola Sonata check out Daphne Gerling’s wonderful dissertation, Connecting histories: Identity and exoticism in Ernest Bloch, Rebecca Clarke, and Paul Hindemith's viola works of 1919.

Hope to see you Wednesday!

 University of Northern Colorado Symphony Orchestra in rehearsal.

University of Northern Colorado Symphony Orchestra in rehearsal.

A Contemporary Playlist: Part III by Anne Lanzilotti

This is Part III in a series of contemporary playlists, specifically focused on 21st century music. Here is some music I've been revisiting lately by mentors/heros, friends, and new acquaintances.

Shelley Washington

Friend/hero Shelley Washington is a composer based in Princeton, NJ. In her single BIG Talk for two baritone saxophones deals with the relentless verbal abuse many female-identifying people encounter on a daily basis walking around in a big city such as New York. She is a member of the composer collective Kinds of Kings.

Wang A-Mao

I met A-Mao this summer at the Beijing Modern Music Festival and have been getting to know her music better this summer. This work treats traditional Chinese folk elements as sound objects that are turned around and observed, as one would a small wooden sculpture in one's hands.

Gabriel Kahane

Gabe is a phenomenal musician and a wonderful storyteller. This summer I've often caught myself humming this song from Kahane's latest album, out this week (that chronicles his journey across the country by train the day after the 2016 presidential election).

Martin Bresnick

Martin Bresnick is a mentor for generations of musicians who have come through Yale. He is a complete musician, and one who uses his knowledge to lift others up. Ishi's Song is a meditation on a melody sung by the man who was the last native speaker of the Yahi-Yana language. Bresnick meditates on the memory of this song, otherwise forgotten in time.

Björk

Björk's attention to detail and complexity of arrangements is incredible. She has influenced musicians across genres and continues to challenge herself by finding a new sound in each album. For example, in Vulnicura, she arranged individual string parts for five violins, five violas, and five cellos in order to get the darker sound she wanted. If you haven't yet, read this interview: The Invisible Woman: A Conversation with Björk.

Marcos Balter

I've been teaching Marcos's music a lot this year to talk about timbre as structure or a shift in perspective. That's what I love about new music, and Marcos's music in particular, the attention to small shifts in timbre which make me want to lean in more, pay more attention. In this act we can practice really listening, and take on the subtlety and complexity of the perspective of another person.

Unsuk Chin

Unsuk Chin is a composer living in Berlin. I kept watching this opera in pieces this summer: the bass clarinet caterpillar, the loops of orchestration that build up into a frenzy under various creatures from Wonderland. Read this wonderful interview from last year in Music & Literature.

Thailand International Composers Festival by Anne Lanzilotti

It was such a pleasure working with the amazing ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Young Artists last week at Thailand International Composition Festival. Now in its 14th year, the festival included musicians from all over the world. I was honored to join this year as a guest composer.

The three ASEAN Young Artists from the Philippines are founding members of Ripieno Ensemble, a newly founded group dedicated to performing contemporary music that has already done some wonderful projects (read more about them here: http://www.interlude.hk/front/modern-academy-focus-ripieno-ensemble/) I’m grateful for all the care they put into the performance and I’m excited to follow the group’s future projects!

In the large group photo, from left to right: Joseph Emmanuel V. Hernandez, Korn Roongruangchai, Turtle Sam Kaploykeo, Patricia Erika Poblador, Alfin Satriani, Danelle San Andres Dionisio, John Castro, Mhaze Danniel R. Lim and Jhuan Tjan Lee. (Photos by Nantpipat Vutthisak)

Lesley Flanigan: Sound, Intuition, and Process by Anne Lanzilotti

I interviewed Lesley Flanigan for The Log Journal in anticipation of her upcoming show at St. John the Divine on May 9th during Red Bull Music Festival New York.

Excerpt: "If I think about the advice I would give to myself at a younger age, the first thing I would say is trust the process. For example, I stepped away from sound for those five years. I thought I had lost my voice, but it was in me, I just needed to come at it from another angle. That means trusting the process and living your life. It doesn’t just go away; it can percolate and come back even stronger, whether it’s writing music or creating a project." Read on

Artists at Noguchi: Sounds of Akari by Anne Lanzilotti

Friday, April 6, 2018, 6:30pm at The Noguchi Museum

In celebration of the exhibition Akari: Sculpture by Other Means, The Noguchi Museum presents Sounds of Akari, a musical performance featuring violist Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, harpist Ashley Jackson, and flutist Alice Teyssier in a program featuring an original composition by Lanziotti and works by Claude Debussy, Andrew Norman, and Toru Takemitsu.

Inspired by the poetic, ephemeral nature of Isamu Noguchi’s Akari, Lanzilotti incorporates sounds of Akari themselves into her work for flute, viola, and harp. Recordings of tapping, opening and closing, and rubbing the washi paper, bamboo, and wire of the lanterns evoke the feeling of being inside the light sculptures. Additionally, the three instrumental parts of the composition draw subtly from the other pieces on the program, incorporating works of the past as Noguchi was inspired by the transformation of traditional paper lanterns into modern lights.

Following the premiere of Lanzilotti’s work, the program will continue with three other works that evoke the fragility and lightness of Akari. Itinerant was written by Takematsu in memory of Noguchi shortly after his death. The work changes moods frequently to reflect the transient nature of Noguchi’s life. Norman’s Sabina recalls sunrise in the Church of Santa Sabina, in Rome, Italy, drawing a comparison to the way that Akari makes light soft and beautiful by filtering it through washi paper. Finally, Debussy’s Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp moves through moments of lightness and joy and fragile sound as timbres of these three instruments combine.

This program is free and coincides with Free First Friday, with free admission offered throughout the day. RSVP recommended: publicprograms@noguchi.org

The concert will coincide with the release of my new album The Akari Sessions (featuring Romina Monsanto). While the album stands alone, it is meant to be listened to in the exhibit, Akari: Sculpture by Other Means.

OK Electric Festival by Anne Lanzilotti

Headed to Tulsa, Oklahoma at the end of March for OK Electric Festival!

 

Friday, March 30: Our Sense of the Real

Emma O’HalloranPoints of Infinity (2017)

Noam Faingold, Character Studies in Transformation of Intimate Spaces: 3D—>2D (2018)*

Anna ThorvaldsdóttirTransitions (2014)

Scott WollschlegerAmerica (2013, 2018)

Wollschleger, Our Sense of the Real part IV (2018)*

 

Saturday, March 31: Postcards

Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, Postcards (2018)*

Lanzilotti, 1A (2018)*

Lanzilotti, Gray (2017)

 

*world premiere

Australia Tour by Anne Lanzilotti

I’m going on tour to Australia! First off, I'll be joining forces with local Melbourne musicians for a group improv set at Make It Up Club, a series that presents avant garde improvised music and sound performance every Tuesday night at Bar Open: 317 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia. (8:30 PM doors $5/10)

I'll be presenting a workshop on Deep Listening and doing a set of my own music for Melbourne Sound School's guest artist lecture series.

Finally, I'll be performing works by Emma O’Halloran and myself on the Dots+Loops series in Brisbane. Please come say hello if you're in the area! Tickets $23 at https://www.trybooking.com/TSYN, or $25 on the door.

Open Space: An Andrew Norman Playlist by Anne Lanzilotti

openspace2018-poster-web.jpg

We're excited to welcome Andrew Norman to University of Northern Colorado for the 10th Annual Open Space Festival of New Music! The festival will take place March 7–9, 2018 and feature performances by UNC students and faculty.

Wednesday, March 7: Andrew Norman's The Companion Guide to Rome
6:30pm doors, 7pm talkback and music, Atlas Theater, Greeley, CO

Thursday, March 8: Andrew Norman's Switch
7:30 p.m., Montfort Concert Hall, Union Colony Civic Center, 701 10th Ave: Concert of the music of Andrew Norman featuring Mike Truesdell, UNC Assistant Professor of Percussion, UNC Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Russell Guyver, and Uncommon Ensemble performing Farnsworth: Four Portraits of a House, and Try conducted by Inés Rodríguez.

Friday, March 9: Open Space Call for Scores winners concert
7:30pm, Milne Auditorium, Kepner Hall, University of Northern Colorado. Works by guest composer-performer Simon Rowland-Jones, and the winners of this year's Open Space Call for Scores: Armando Bayolo, Ron Coulter, Howard Kenty, Zachary Pierce, Andrew Sigler, and Suzanne Sorkin.

Angela Beeching's Creative Productivity Challenge by Anne Lanzilotti

Earlier this month, Angela Beeching hosted a Creative Productivity Challenge. I was unable to join the live sessions, so I decided to do them out of time this week to boost me into a productive winter break. If you don't know Beeching's work, her wonderful book Beyond Talent is my go to resource for everything from concert planning, to teaching resumes, to tax deductions. As she says, "The time to do your best creative work is now." So, let's jump right in!

Day 1: Creativity Habits

The first day focused on five creative habits for getting work done, or as I like to think of it, dissertation-flashback. Listening to her talk about creative habits prompted me to find this little piece of paper, which I have saved even though it has long outlived its purpose.

IMG_7683.jpg

It reminds me of many late afternoons sitting out on the fire escape reading chapters out-loud and making corrections in blue pen. While I had to adjust slightly, I successfully turned in the full draft to my advisor by the end of the year so I'd have time to do revisions. As clear from the above photo, several of the habits Beeching mentioned—time blockingdividing & conquering, and backwards planning—were essential to getting all of it done on time.

My main reset for 2018? Working distraction free! As a commitment to this—and at Beeching's suggestion—I just bought an alarm clock that is not my phone! I recently moved and am finally starting to find a routine in my new home, and I'd for love that routine to be one that helps me move forward with my longterm projects. For more ideas on creative habits to get work done, listen to the entire Day 1 session here.

Day 2: Self-Messaging

This session focuses on negative self-talk, or what Beeching calls, "The Festival of Self-Loathing." Beeching wrote a wonderful post on thought distortions this summer, and she goes deeper in this session. Listening to it reminded me of Rebecca Solnit's idea that we always act in the dark:

. . . I argued that you don't know if your actions are futile; that you don't have the memory of the future; that the future is indeed dark, which is the best thing it could be; and that, in the end, we always act in the dark. The effects of your actions may unfold in ways you cannot force or even imagine. They may unfold long after your death. That is when the words of so many writers often resonate most.

I love that Beeching talks so much about curiosity and experimentation as the midpoint to get back to being in a place of creative flow. In fact, I watched this session twice to hear it more clearly and challenge myself to answer the questions she asks. She mentions briefly that walking helps her, which I have also found essential. Moving through physical space helps me to move forward in mental space. And honestly, walking is the only thing that consistently works to get me to reset if I'm feeling truly stuck. (In fact, half of the works on my album Wanderweg use field recordings from these walks.) The final exercise Beeching details, "grateful flow," you should experience for yourself as a part of the Day 2 session here.

IMG_0018.JPG

Day 3: Purpose

In this session, Beeching tries to help people focus on defining the core of their work, and the impact they want to make with their music. Beeching often helps clients to find this for specific projects, but she adds, "Whether you write it in your promotional materials or just know it for yourself, it matters." She talks about the immediate goal of a project versus the larger impact or change we want to make. Beeching calls this, "Know your WHY."

The rigor that Beeching speaks about rings true in every session: that committing to doing consistent work, and having habits/rituals to get you into that work can help to boost motivation, creativity, and access to what many artists refer to as "flow." The way that she uses the Hero's Journey to help someone figure out where they are in their process is wonderful. Listen to the entire Day 3 session here.

herosjourney2.jpg

Day 4: Process

As a slight change for this session, I'll answer the big questions that Beeching sets forth at the beginning of this session page:

How do we allow for the playful, exploratory, and experimental part of the process as well as for the critical, and analytical part? About two years ago, I started to incorporate improvisation into my practice, recording it so that I could use that material to compose. It was a way for me to spend more hours in the sound world of playful experimentation.

What’s your process like and how do expectations factor in? I have a system for practicing the viola now that works for me that has to do with timed focused sessions and timed restful breaks. Focused practice is meditative for me, and I think improvising and composing opened up my practice in a new way to helping me approach the instrument with a relaxed, connected technique. I realized listening to Beeching talk about expectations that I have the unhealthy expectation that I should be able to practice without breaks, that I should be able to work harder always. So for me, using the timer for daily practice in combination with really big longterm projects gives me motivation to put in the time and the wisdom to take time for slow, practice really listening to sound.

What tools or approaches help you to “ship” the work—to complete your work and get it out in the world? Deadlines, pure and simple. I've gotten better at knowing how long I need and then planning ahead. That way, I am giving myself the time to work at my pace and turn out good work.

Beeching emphasizes in this session to keep doing creative work, and that the process of exploration and discovery will help the individual be able to "offer that generously to the world." Listen to the whole session on creative process here.

Day 5: Confidence

The last day of the Creative Productivity Challenge is about confidence. Beeching says, "Confidence doesn't come before you do something ambitious, it's the result of having done the ambitious thing." She talks about how confidence is not a static state, but rather part of a process within the flow of commitmentcouragecapability, and confidence.

I'm working on a commission right now that I had a strong concept for immediately. I was hesitating to execute the concept because I wasn't sure if I would be able to record the sound I wanted, and if I botched it then I worried it would make the whole concept seem ridiculous. So, I decided to go full in: I made a deadline by asking the amazing recording engineer at my University to reserve hours to record, and told him exactly what we would be doing: recording the sound of paper sculptures. Having the appointment and having an expert who showed me respect and took me seriously allowed me to focus completely and really experiment and play with the sounds I wanted in the studio.

So I would add to this last session, confidence is not only about process for me, but about working with others who also show that commitment, courage, and capability so that there is playful and inquisitive confidence, not posturing. Surrounding yourself with people who enrich your process is so essential, and allows for you to be creative and not let anything get in your way. Listen to the other tips for increasing creative confidence in the whole session here.

It was great being able to work through these sessions, and to use this post as an accountability tool for myself. If you're reading this, I encourage you to do the Creative Productivity Challenge yourself. It's never too late to start!

A Contemporary Playlist: Part II by Anne Lanzilotti

unc-contemporary-music-ensemble.jpg

Tuesday will be our last class and final concert for the Contemporary Music Ensemble at University of Northern Colorado! Earlier this semester, the group performed works by Jürg Frey and Pauline Oliveros as a part of the School of Music's Day of Music for which students organize concerts in the community (pictured above). As the semester comes to a close, I'd like to offer this second playlist as a way to encourage continued listening beyond the classroom. As I mentioned in the original post, these are some living composers/sound artists that students should know if they're studying with me. And as with the previous list, these are people whose music I admire and listen to.

Lesley Flanigan, Hedera (2016)

Flanigan builds sound sculptures—sometimes modified found speakers, sometimes handmade amplification objects—and often uses the feedback in conjunction with her own voice to create multi-layered sonic landscapes. In her own words, these works embrace "both the transparency and residue of process." Flanigan is brilliant and her music is gorgeous and now I'm gushing just listen.

Maria Chavez, live performance (2010)

An excerpt on Chavez from an article I wrote this summer for NewMusicBox:

Sound artist and abstract turntablist Maria Chavez’s wonderful book Of Technique: Chance Procedures on Turntable explains different techniques that Chavez has developed through her career as a performer. What I love about Chavez’s music is that she takes found objects from the environment and finds their beauty through focused listening and attention in her sets. The records Chavez uses are mostly found damaged and would otherwise have been discarded. Taking these objects and turning them into a vital part of avant-garde DJing is what makes Chavez’s music so unique. Giving the objects a new voice points to the idea that forgotten or discarded peoples can be empowered to have a voice through advocacy.

Kaija Saariaho, L'Amour de Loin (2000)

Saariaho's wonderful NPR interview when L'Amour de Loin was staged by the MET Opera last season: https://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2016/12/03/503986298/half-of-humanity-has-something-to-say-composer-kaija-saariaho-on-her-met-debut. The excerpt below is Tamara Mumford as the Pilgrim singing to the Countess. Mumford's incredibly moving and intelligent interpretation of this important character in the opera stole the show.

Jacob Cooper, Silver Threads  (2014)

This is an album I come back to—the transition into the last track, “Jar” puts me back into a specific emotion I felt hearing Melissa Hughes perform it live. Cooper’s music explores sound worlds that could only be heard through electronic manipulation, and explores how this similarly affects our perception and feeling about people who in our modern world are always filtered through some kind of electronic medium (whether social media or text threads). In an interview Cooper said, "The beautiful thing about working with electronic music is that new technology constantly allows us to develop and focus on new sounds."

Nina Young, Sun Propeller (2012, rev. viola version 2017)

Young visited the Contemporary Music Ensemble to present her music and improvise with us earlier this month while she was here at University of Northern Colorado to produce my recording of her piece Sun Propeller. Young's music is expansive and lyrical, and her expertise in computer programming allows for this expressiveness to be transferred into the electronics she creates naturally, keeping her voice and vision.

Ted Hearne, Sound from the Bench (2014/2017)

Sound from the Bench (below) takes texts from the Supreme Court cases, Jena Osman's Corporate Relations (poems that examine corporate personhood in the USA), and Ventriloquist textbooks and mashes them up in a way that challenges the listener to think about the what it is to be human. Hearne says:

I strive toward a polyphony of oppositional voices and perspectives in my music, and to bring the chaotic forces of life into the work itself. It was this impulse, and the unabashedly political tone of Osman's poetry, that made me want to set some part of Corporate Relations to music.

Zosha DiCastri, Quartet No. 1 (2016)

DiCastri is a professor at Columbia University, and has a wonderful sense of textures and drama. Her work for the group Yarn/Wire last year was incredible and I hope there will be a production of it again soon! Part of her compositional process involves working directly with sound, either improvising with her voice or by manipulating recordings of effects that she wants to use in her music. This genesis from the sound itself makes these modern techniques and timbres visceral and dramatic.

Chris Cerrone, Invisible Cities (2013)

This is a more in-depth video showing the production of Cerrone's opera Invisible Cities that was staged in the Los Angeles train station. Cerrone is inspired by texts and is an avid reader of poetry and literature. This work is based on the Italo Calvino book of the same name. As with the Saariaho opera, it asks, what are we describing when we describe the other? Are we describing ourselves or are we truly observing? How do we go outside ourselves to explore new places and people, or do we experience them more truly when we allow ourselves to be tangled up with them?

A note about Cerrone, Cooper, and Hearne: they are part of a composer collective called Sleeping Giant including Andrew Norman (in the previous list). I included these composers because they are people I know from graduate school and work with professionally to this day. Another person in graduate school with all of us who "wasn't a composer" at the time? Caroline Shaw. I point this out to remind anyone reading this that 1) no list is totally objective—these are people I find interesting, not a definitive list, and 2) play your peers' music! We are making a point in this final concert to play both the music of established composers, and music by members of the Contemporary Ensemble themselves. Play your peers' music. End of detour.

Ken Ueno, improvisation (2015)

I met Ueno in 2010 when we were both living in Berlin. He was generous with inviting fellow expats over to the American Academy, and was wonderful to talk to about sound and his philosophy of music making. Ueno writes music for other performers on traditional instruments, as well as performing himself, often using his voice to create incredible timbral sonic drones. This is is a video I shared earlier in the semester, but I'd like to end with it because it inspires me to think about making sound, and what our role is as contemporary musicians.

Read the previous post in this series, "A Contemporary Music Ensemble Playlist."