newmusic

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.

White Wall by Anne Lanzilotti

This is the final post in a series featuring the program notes for Scott Wollschleger's debut album, Soft Aberration out next week on New Focus Recordings!

“I think there’s a kind of emptied quality to the string quartet, and those pieces I wrote at that time.” Scott trails off slightly, then continues, “I think the white noise signified that sort of complete emptiness that’s at the very end of something. But to have that be the actual starting spot was the idea.” We’re sitting in my living room on what is probably the windiest day in winter this season. The old windows in my apartment aren’t sealed well, and the entire recorded interview is accompanied by a pervasive cold wind. Every time Scott pauses as he’s thinking about the white noise sounds, it seems as though the wind picks up, as though it can tell that we’re talking about it. Wollschleger continued:

[White Wall] definitely represented a break in my own work, or in myself, or in my approach to art, where I wanted to see how you could start from nothing, and pull from within itself something. . . . If you were to drain music from itself, what would be left over?

The beginning of the piece is almost a sound installation. We hear the “breathing” of the four instruments as they are activated by white noise. The breathing turns into humming, slowly unearthing a melody. As this “song” emerges from the white noise, it begins to dance around the fluttering creatures that surround it. Wollschleger elaborated:

Again, this notion of unfolding from within itself was the goal—utopian chimera, Adorno’s dream. But I think ending it with a dance was my way of saying this isn’t going to happen. . . . That’s why I think I had to add that second movement.

Yet, the playful dance of the second movement also disintegrates. This pervasive feeling of being drained cannot be shaken. Wollschleger added:

I always think of the white noise as the bleached out remains of a human. Which I think is kind of beautiful idea: when nothing is left, that’s all that’s left, that white noise. . . . And after history, and after Brahms, and after all our feelings, what would there be? The white noise points to that language which might be left for us.

Soft Aberration is available on New Focus Recordings October 20th!

Read the previous post in this series on "America."

Soft Aberration by Anne Lanzilotti

In anticipation of the release of Scott Wollschleger's debut album, Soft Aberration, I will be sharing my program notes for each of the works. This week's notes are on the title track, Soft Aberration, for viola and piano.

It’s very difficult for me to write about this piece because I’m so close to it: Soft Aberration was written for Karl Larson and me. In my interpretation of the piece as a performer, the piano sets out its idea of how things are structured by itself—the entire first section is void of the other instrumentalist. When the viola enters, it is holding onto the memory of a melody that used to be beautiful, now so far beyond even being a melody that it is just shapes of white noise. Perhaps we never actually hear the original, only an idealistic version in harmonics. At the center of the piece, the hearts of the two instruments are exposed, but ultimately this is not a place we can stay.

This interpretation is not something any of us had discussed explicitly, so I was surprised that Scott’s musical intention was so clear when I read his final program note for the piece:

Soft Aberration is a piece about imitation, but rather than sharing identical musical material I imagined each instrument as a damaged reflective surface which projects a kind of “broken echo” between the two instruments. In some sense the piano wants to “see itself” in the viola’s music and the viola wants the same from the piano. The two struggle with this throughout the piece and at various times they find a way to “see” each other.

In a recent conversation, Scott elaborated on the poetics of white noise as used in this work:

Your part in Soft Aberration is something that’s gone. But also, I thought of it as a mirroring thing where you’re not able to see each other because this is true of life—everyone, no matter how close you are—there’s a part of you that they’ll never know and you’ll never know them. . . . This is the mystery of life in a way, to never fully be able to express yourself to someone. We’re always missing each other a little bit.
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Soft Aberration is out on New Focus Records October 20th!

Read the previous post in this series on "Brontal Symmetry."

Read the next post in this series on "Bring Something Incomprehensible into This World."

A Contemporary Music Ensemble Playlist by Anne Lanzilotti

One of my students in the Contemporary Music Ensemble at University of Northern Colorado asked if I could put together a list of works they should listen to because, he said, the "new" music he was used to hearing was not as weird as the new music we are doing in class (so far we've had units on Deep Listening and the Wandelweiser Collective).

So, here are some composers that students should know if they're studying with me, in no particular order. I left out some important collaborators and intriguing new discoveries, but I need to go run and teach the viola:

Andrew Norman, Play (2013, rev. 2016)

My listening guide: http://www.musicandliterature.org/features/2016/10/25/cut-to-a-different-world-andrew-norman

Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Aeriality (2011)

My listening guide: http://www.musicandliterature.org/features/2017/5/18/anna-thorvaldsdottir-a-part-of-nature

Dai Fujikura, Engraving (2014)

No listening guide for this one, but I'll be publishing some brief thoughts in the next issue of the American Viola Society Journal on Engraving, which I gave Dai feedback for when he was writing it. Here's the blurb on Dai for AVS:

. . . I think that’s part of what Dai Fujikura wanted to do by the asking the performer to determine the order of the “elements” and therefore the form in Engraving. By forcing the performers to chose which permutation of the piece to play, he is making them think about how these textures or systems of organization could be put together to create a piece. He asks them not just to learn the notes, or to be able to execute the piece on a “surface level,” but also to take part in the process of thinking deeply about how one thing leads to another.

(I have one of Dai's manuscript pages up in my office, for curious students . . . )

Caroline Shaw, To the Hands (2016)

From the composer herself:

I’ve made all parts available here. With the understanding that any performance of this piece is accompanied by rigorous solicitation of donations for those without homes (locally and globally), and strong support for active & informed conversation with policy makers. Let us open our hands to those of others. (What are these wounds, in my hands, and in yours?) Walls are not the answer. We are all creatures.

Tyshawn Sorey, Verisimilitude (2017)

Alex Ross's piece in The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/10/tyshawn-sorey-defeats-preconceptions

Scott Wollschleger, Brontal Symmetry (2015)

Scott is a longtime collaborator and dear friend. I'm releasing my program notes for Scott's new album one by one this month. Here is the first one and a live performance by the wonderful trio Longleash.

Eliane Radigue, L'Île Re-Sonante (2000)

Kate Molleson's wonderful interview with Radigue: http://www.edition-festival.com/?p=252

Vijay Iyer, Far From Over (2017)

This is the album I brought into class to add to our little studio lending library. Here's a teaser from ECM (and some of you may notice Tyshawn on drums!).

Kate Soper, Ipsa Dixit (2010–16)

Alex Ross's piece in The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/kate-sopers-philosophy-opera