Berkeley Symphony EarShot New Music Readings: Composer Q&A – Natalie Williams

Composer Natalie Williams is participating in ACO’s Berkeley Symphony EarShot New Music Readings on May 2 and 3. Her selected piece Les Chants du Maldoror is, in Natalie words, “a Chamber Symphony, a suite of orchestral contemplations on four etchings by surrealist artist, Salvador Dali.” Read her full program note here.

Natalie was kind enough to answer some questions for SoundAdvice.

Composer Natalie Williams

What was your reaction to finding out your piece had been selected for the Berkeley EarShot New Music Readings?
I am truly thrilled to be selected as a participant in the EarShot New Music Readings. The opportunity to work with an orchestra of the calibre of the Berkeley Symphony is a rare and extremely valuable experience for any composer. The support of this program offers invaluable career development, mentorship and networking with the musicians, orchestra management and of course the ACO team. I am very honored to have this opportunity, to work with a fantastic group of musicians and mentors and to enable my music to reach new audiences and performers. The chance to work alongside composer peers is also a wonderful experience and I am very humbled to be a part of the new and emerging voices that will come from workshops such as the EarShot program.

What preparations are you making ahead of the readings with the Berkeley Symphony?
I have spent much time with my score, revisiting the textural decisions that I made during the orchestration process. The piece contains many varied approaches to orchestral colors and I am very keen to workshop these with the orchestra in Berkeley. The opening movement features a Passacaglia and I am keen to hear the live realization of my piece, to judge how I have treated that constantly-moving voice amidst the textural choices that I made for the entire ensemble. Movement three of my piece “The Memory of Music” relies on techniques of echo and melodic replication through many instrumental voices and dynamic levels; the delicacy of these color changes is something that can only be shaped by a live performance and I am excited to hear the reading sessions to explore the intricacies of those sounds.

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