Composer Highlight: Leaha Maria Villareal / by and Play

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!