Berkeley Symphony EarShot Under Construction Readings Composer Spotlight – Composer Sivan Eldar, Part 2

Berkeley Symphony Music Director Joana Carneiro reviews composer Sivan Eldar’s score for A Thousand Tongues at a session at the Berkeley Symphony EarShot Under Construction Readings.

SoundAdvice catches up with composer Sivan Eldar, who is participating in the Berkeley Symphony EarShot Under Construction Readings on May 4 and 5, 2014 at the Osher Studio in Berkeley, CA. Sivan shared with us her experience of working with Berkeley Symphony Music Director Joana Carneiro, mentor-composers Robert Beaser and Ed Campion, and the musicians that performed her piece, A Thousand Tongues, at the first Readings session in February.

American Composers Orchestra: How would you describe your experience at the first Readings session back in February?

Sivan Eldar: Everyone involved was extremely enthusiastic, curious, thoughtful. And also extremely generous. It was a great experience.

ACO: What did you learn from the experience of working with the mentor composers, Maestro Joana Carneiro, and the musicians of the Berkeley Symphony on your piece? Have your interactions with them impacted your composition? If so how?

S.E.: I really enjoyed working with Joana Carneiro. During the reading I jotted down comments on my score: a gesture that needed to blend better, a texture that needed to be brighter or more delicate. But before I had a chance to say anything, she was already rehearsing those parts again, and getting the balance just right. She seemed to understand our music in a very intuitive way.

I also thought that Robert Beaser and Ed Campion – our mentor composers – were a great pair. During the feedback session, when one would focus on form, the other would fill in the gaps about orchestration, and vise versa. They were full of energy and very passionate about helping us make our pieces as good as possible. To me the sessions with them were inspiring, not only as a composer, but also as a teacher of young composers.

As for the musicians of the Berkeley Symphony, I was very motivated by their willingness to think critically about our music and share their thoughts and comments. My piece opens with a flute/clarinet duet accompanied by percussion. The feedback I got from these three players, both before and after the reading, added character to the opening, and a new kind of depth. I have already incorporated their suggestions into the score!

ACO: What was the experience like to hear your piece read by the Berkeley Symphony? Has listening to your piece performed live provided any insights into how you will further develop your work?  

S.E.: To be honest, I was very nervous about the first half of the piece. The texture was sparse and a little unusual for the orchestra: breathy bass flute, very soft bass clarinet, inhales in the brass section. I was afraid that it would come across as “too thin” rather than intimate and dreamlike. Interestingly, it turned out to be the most interesting and haunting section of the piece. And also the material that I ended up developing most for the second reading.

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