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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.

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."