Composer Highlight: Bethany Younge by and Play

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We are so excited to finally bring Bethany Younge's new piece out into the world. It really challenged us technically with a tough vocalization + playing part, but all of the hard work has paid off and ing ing ing ing ing ing ing ing ing ing ing into has us feeling powerful! We cannot wait to share it on Saturday, April 21st at Areté Venue and Gallery at 7:30pm!

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What was your experience like writing for violin/viola duo? Was there anything unexpected about the writing process?

Strings are always harder for me to write for because I never learned how to play any stringed instruments and I'm very much a hands-on composer. With that in mind, I made a tape part from my vocalizations to serve as a guide for treating the strings as voices. All the actual string playing is very much secondary, serving mostly as an impulse or impetus behind all other sonic matter. 

What is your relationship to the voice in your compositions? How did you know you wanted to use speaking/singing in your piece for andPlay?

When instrumentalists use their own voices, I imagine their instruments are speaking through their bodies. The violin and viola instruments function as the mind behind the mechanics of the throat, tongue, teeth, lips to communicate. I also suspected that by having the string players speak, there'd be a strong connection to the non-spoken vocalizations in the electronic track. The disassembled words and vocalizations in both the tape part and the spoken text seem unnatural, processed, technological much in the same way that string instruments are a technology. Maybe I'm trying to break or challenge the barriers between technology and human voice. 

Is there anything you would like the audience to know before hearing the piece?

The many voices (strings, human voice, electronic voice) compete to be heard. Do you hear 3 voices, 2 voices, or 1 giant conglomerate voice, or no voices at all? 

What are some of your bucket-list travel destinations?

Chile, Ecuador, Japan

If you could only bring one snack for a ten hour flight what would it be?

bagel chips

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Check out more of Bethany's work on her website!

Composer Highlight: Leah Asher by and Play

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Leah Asher is a long time bestie of andPlay, and we were so thrilled to finally be able to commission and collaborate with her this year on a new piece. We are all heart eyes over here!  Her piece, letters to my future self, is incredible, and we will be premiering it on April 21, 2018 at Areté Venue and Gallery on a show that we are splitting with the fabulous horn trio, Kylwyria. Come out out to hear some truly wonderful music!

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What was your experience like writing for violin/viola duo? Was there anything unexpected about the writing process?

Since I’m a string player myself, I’ve written a lot of music for strings and I feel very comfortable both writing in this sound world and having clear expectations of how the performers will interpret my graphic notation. This particular duo was very special to write both because I play violin and viola and because I’m close friends with the Maya and Hannah. Because of those relationships, I felt an extra freedom to try out something new. This experiment turned out well, I’m excited to say, and you’ll hear it specifically in the section where Hannah and Maya are reinterpreting words into sounds on their instruments with some spoken phonemes. 

What is your relationship to the voice in your compositions? How did you know you wanted to use speaking/singing in your piece for andPlay?

The use of speech and vocalization in instrumental parts is becoming more and more frequent in my work. With just a click, hum, whistle, or phonemes, adding vocalization to a piece can render abstract music immediately more relatable, because everyone or nearly everyone in the audience has experience with making or hearing those sounds themselves. The concept for ‘letters to my future self’ came pretty early on in the process. I knew that I wanted to ask a variety of people from different age groups to write letters to their future selves and that those letters would somehow be the foundation for the piece. I planned for at least parts of these letters to be presented in a way that the audience would concretely understand. So, there are sections in the piece where you will hear direct quotes, and other places where just fragments emerge. 

Is there anything you would like the audience to know before hearing the piece?

This is a piece about what people want for themselves and want to tell themselves. All of the sounds that aren’t text are written in graphic notation, which means that I have created a pictorial representation of the sounds that I would like to hear. 

What are some of your bucket-list travel destinations?

South Africa and Thailand are on the long-term bucket-list. More locally, Nashville! Maya and I are going to road trip this summer and it’s going to be rad!! 

If you could only bring one snack for a ten hour flight what would it be?

Endless chips and guacamole. In an ideal world, where this wouldn’t be totally impractical on a plane. 

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Check out more of Leah's music and projects on her website!

Composer Highlight: Joel Rust by and Play

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We were excited when Joel Rust approached us about working on a piece together and playing a concert on the Waverly Project at NYU. We had a wonderful workshop experience, and it was a bonus that Joel is just the nicest! If you have a free evening mark your calendars and come out to the show to the hear the premiere of Vanishing Point and some other wonderful pieces on February 15th at 8pm in the NYU Department of Music (24 Waverly Place, Room 268)!

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Use three words to describe Vanishing Point.

lush, cold, contemplative.

What your process like while writing this piece?

For the first time, I created most of the live electronic environment before I began writing any notes – so when I did, it was strange to write for the instrument+electronics assemblage, but it made for an engaging constraint. I think I spent more time than usual staring at blank pieces of paper, but it was time well spent.

Have you seen art, heard a song, or read a book recently that just blew you away?

I'm currently reading The Last Shade Tree by Margaret Panofsky, who's also my viola da gamba teacher! It's a gorgeously rich magical realist novel which becomes really gritty and visceral. 

What is your ultimate last-day-on-earth snack?

"Have you ever put a donut in the microwave?"

Tell us something we don’t know (about you or anything in the universe).

Bats aren't blind! They just also have their sonar to help them hunt at night. They can probably see better than we can.

 

For more info about Joel visit his website!

 

Composer Highlight: Scott Wollschleger by and Play

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We have been so thrilled to work with Scott Wollschleger this year on his new piece for us, Violain! He has been an incredible collaborator, and we feel lucky to have such a great and thoughtful new piece to add to our repertoire. We played some preview performances of the piece on our California tour with great success, and after some tweaks and changes made by Scott we are ready for the world premiere performance on the permutations series on Thursday, December 14th at the DiMenna Center at 7:30pm! 

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What was your process like when writing 'Violain'?

My writing process is very hands on and I played around with both instruments to find the sounds I wanted to use for this piece. A lot of the sounds are a result of very fast gestures with unusual bowing technique. In some spots I had to video myself and play it back in slow motion to see what I was doing. Once I saw what I was doing I notated the sound/gesture on staff paper and then taped that individual piece of staff paper to my wall. After some time my walls were decorated with various panels of notation. Many of the "panels" were made of self-similar sounds which made it easy to "stitch" together the various panels to create larger sections of the piece. The piece was written almost exclusively using this kind of collage technique.

Is there anything you would like the audience to know about the piece?

The title came about through a typo in the music engraving file name. The piece was going to have the boring title, "Viola and Violin". The typo-title is fitting because a great deal of the music embraces a typo aesthetic. Since the music was written by hand musical typos were common and in many places I ended up letting the mistake stay in the music because it sounded more interesting.  Also by letting some typos be I feel this gives the music an extra layer of joyful Wabi-sabi. 

What have you been listening to on repeat recently?

Galina Ustvolskaya and Phil Niblock. 

Do you have a go-to car snack recommendations for us?

In a desperate moment a few years ago I bought a bag of Combos on a road trip and discovered they're fun to eat while driving. They also last a week after being open and can be left in a hot steamy car for many hours and taste the same. You can't think to much about them while eating them or you'll feel gross. But I buy a bag any time I hit the road. 

Can you tell us something that we don't know (about you, the world, the universe, etc.)?

The world already ended. 

 

Check out more of Scott's work on his website!