Composer Highlight: Ravi Kittappa

We are jazzed to get started with our Fall 2017 tour down the coast of California! The schedule is on our events pages, but here is a little overview of our stops. We will be at the Center for New Music with Chartreuse on 11/8, in Boulder Creek on the Indexical series on 11/10, Paso Robles for a private event at St. Peter of Alcantara Vineyard for the Guyomar Wine Club member party on 11/11, Los Angeles at Monk Space with Chartreuse on 11/12, and finally at UCSD in the Conrad Prebys Music Center Recital Hall on 11/13. 

We received a 2016 CMA Classical Commissioning grant with Ravi Kittappa, and it has been such a fun journey to make this piece a reality. We are really looking forward to premiering this work and getting to play it so many times in a short span of days. It will be interesting to see how the piece grows and changes over the course of the week. Now check out how Ravi tackled our questions for him! 


What was your inspiration for 'Tacit'?

For the last few years I’ve been interested in what I’ve termed "person-specific" music. It’s not music written for a specific person but music that allows the performer to utilize their own proclivities, unique abilities, and specific qualities of their instrument as a core part of performance. In general these pieces have a somewhat open form and method of notation, with durations dictated by the unfurling of various processes. The first piece that I wrote with this in mind was Trajectories, which Hannah graciously performed a little while ago.

I’ve written a few solo works where these notions were explored, but Tacit is the first of these pieces with more than one player. So for the piece to work it is essential that the musicians have a keen understanding of each other’s playing and an capability for “tacit” communication.

What was the collaborative process like with andPlay?

Well, we were in an idyllic location (Avaloch Farms Institute), with plentiful delicious food, fantastic wine, and good company. . . so, it was terrible! No, of course, it was great. My high expectations were surpassed. I love working with people experienced in new music because they’re really unafraid to try anything - andPlay is a stellar example of this! I can remember a somewhat ridiculous moment where I had the duo standing adjacent and bowing each others instruments as well as their own. . . . .needless to say the results weren’t so stellar. But we had to try it to find that out. One thing that I’m particularly happy about the piece is that the duo has really taken it on as their own - not only individually but as the duo. 

What is your pump up music?

Oooooh boy! This changes regularly but at the moment I’ll say . . . . . The Rock*A*Teens - "HWY R" . . . . oh and currently a song called “Health" from a new Australian band called Parsnip. . . .and let’s throw Logical Progression II in there for good measure.

What are some of your top California treats (snacks, meals, wine, etc)?

There are plenty! I suppose I should go through all of your tour stops:

Bay Area: “The Balls” at Southie, Beer at Mikkeler, Dinner at Chez Panisse, Ippuku (an Izakaya in Berkeley), Ethiopian food in Oakland is amazing

Santa Cruz: (haven’t spent much time there but. . .) I’ve had some awesome beer from there, abalone, and Indexical puts on a bunch of awesome shows

Paso Robles: Guyomar Wine, Dinner and cocktails at The Hatch, brunch at Kitchenette, so much more amazing wine. . . .  L’aventure, Linne Calodo, Saxum, Torrin, Golden Triangle, Law, too many to mention. . . .

Los Angeles: Tacos Dorados Camarones at Mariscos Jaliscos (the greatest cheap eat ever!), Cocktails at The Varnish, La Descarga, The Normandie. Kalbi in Koreatown (LA Style)

San Diego: (although I haven’t been there) so many great beers! Fish tacos are just a California thing in general but San Diegans seem to claim ownership

If you had to give up wine or cheese which would you choose?

I would choose to die.


Check out more of Ravi's work on his website.

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.