Composer Highlight: Leaha Maria Villareal

We are so excited to introduce you to Leaha! She is an incredible woman with an infectious laugh and a beautiful sense of music. We will premiering her new piece for andPlay called 'Ghosting [A Shadowy Trace]' at Mise-En Place (678 Hart St. Brooklyn) on Wednesday, May 17th at 8pm. It is beautiful and eerie and will get you into a nice listening space. Here we have asked her a couple of questions about music and snacks that we hope will get you as amped for this performance as we are!

What were you thinking about when you were writing your piece, “Ghosting’?

I was thinking about the permanence or impermanence of our connection to people, in the various ways that we maintain these relationships — in images, in memories, and in the corporeal sense. I was also thinking about agency and energy: ghosts haunt the living, the beholder, the survivor. Ghosts by their nature are disembodied and lack agency, yet hold power over the living and are beyond their control (if you believe in ghosts, that is).

What are your favorite/least favorite things about writing for the violin/viola combo?

Transferring these ideas of ‘ghosting’ to andPlay was intriguing to me: to create for a duo that is so similar in nature yet each possess fundamental differences really resonated conceptually. I feel like I only scratched the surface of possibility in terms of their timbres, tunings, and register. I’m hooked. This latest piece was conceived as a multi-movement work, so I hope to return to this topic and this instrumentation to explore the possibilities in the future.

What have you been reading, watching, listening to that has been inspiring you lately?

In addition to researching old meanings for the term ‘ghost,’ I came across Joanna Walsh’s wonderful set of meditations on hotels. It sounds unrelated but there’s this correlation on spaces we inhabit yet leave unmarked both on the guest and service side of the industry, and the repetitive nature of our appearances in those spaces: business, vacations, trysts — same scenarios, anonymous people. It really shaped my approach to the writing.

What is a snack that you would never say no to?

Popcorn. It always smells great, even if I’ve just had a meal. Why is that?!

Tell us something we don’t know (about you, your music, or the world in general).

I got my first tattoo at 30 and I’d love more. I’m trying to space them out and enjoy the process.


To check out more of Leaha's work go to her website!

Composer Highlight: Kristofer Svensson

The day has finally arrived! We will be performing an exciting program on the first night of the String Theories festival presented by the String Orchestra of Brooklyn (SOB)! It is TONIGHT at Roulette @ 8 PM. We will be playing with the SOB on Cage's '23' and then doing our own set with music by Robert Honstein, Nicholas DeMaison, Peter Kramer, Fjóla Evans, and today's highlighted composer, Kristofer Svensson! Kristofer wrote us a beautiful piece that we will be premiering tonight called Den intimitet sons finns i smultron. He told us not to explain the title, so if you are interested in the Swedish translation pop on over to the handy-dandy Google translate. Now get to know Kristofer a bit, and then come hear his piece (and many others) tonight!

What is something you would like the audience to know about your piece?

Den intimitet som finns i smultron is part of a series of pieces that all somehow have summer as their subjects, at least as far as the titles go (other pieces have names such as Im Sommerluft and I denna ljuva sommartid). "Smultron" in the title is Swedish for Fragaria vesca, which of course is a typical summer seasonal marker. For me, these pieces have a kind of subdued monochrome quality that I associate with summer. 


What was your inspiration/mind set when writing your piece?

I started the piece very influenced by the experiences of working on the piece Ett hav av rör which had just been performed at the time. It introduced me to some new, purely musical concerns that I wanted to continue to think about with Den intimitet som finns i smultron


Do you have any non-music related traditions that you do to get your creativity flowing?

Sweden has a strong tradition of "fika" that I appreciate in this regard. I have been described as a "fika-first" composer. 


What is your favorite car/travel snack?

Anything that does not leave any residue or waste (such as plastic wrappers or peels) is good for making me feel free, especially here in Japan where rubbish bins are so notable scarce. A surprising, new, exotic fruit would be ideal, otherwise an apple will do. 


If you had to live the rest of your life without cheese or chocolate which would you choose?

I already lead a happy cheese-free existence, so I don't see why that would be such a conundrum.




Check out more of Kristofer's music on his soundcloud!


Also, read more about the joyous tradition of fika.

Composer Highlight: Fjóla Evans

Hello friends, meet the fantastic Fjóla Evans! She has been a friend of andPlay for a while and we are really looking forward to performing her piece, DOGGED, again! The first time we played it was on her master's graduation recital back in 2014. Now it has been revised a bit and it will be our program opener on Tuesday. So, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and get to know Fjóla a bit...

What is something you would like the audience to know about your piece?

DOGGED is an attempt to continuously reframe limited musical material, forcing constant reinvention of the same motive. It was written specifically for andPlay, and I am so honoured that they are playing my music!


What was your inspiration/mind set when writing your piece?

I tend to be a bit obsessive about my music. I find that re-listening to a piece of music always brings new epiphanies and a deeper (or just totally different!) understanding of the work. When I find a song or a piece that I like, I listen to it obsessively, chasing these feelings. I wanted to experiment with this idea in the piece for Hannah and Maya.

Do you have any non-music related traditions that you do to get your creativity flowing?

I am so easily distracted that sometimes when I really want to get into it I turn off my phone and my internet. That said, I also like to coast through youtube and wikipedia to find ideas or new tangents when I'm feeling stuck. Oooo and I very occasionally like to do a tarot or rune reading on myself before getting to work, just to get a different context for my ideas, or maybe just to procrastinate.


What is your favorite car/travel snack?

Love a chip! Peanut-butter stuffed pretzels are insane. I am also guiltily into Swedish berries (a Canadian thing?!). They are basically corn starch, sugar, carnauba wax, and food colouring ...


If you had to live the rest of your life without cheese or chocolate which would you choose?

Ohhhhh gawd I dunno if I could choose! I recently discovered these blue-cheese chocolates that sound like they would be disgusting but are actually really good. That's my final answer!


Check out more wonderful things by Fjóla on her website and soundcloud!