American Composers Orchestra: Many of your works have been cross-medium collaborations with choreographers, visual artists, and filmmakers. SONiC Festival, which you have co-curated with Derek Bermel, features an AfterHours program dedicated to music and visuals. In what ways would you say visuals, and other disciplines in general, enhance the musical experience, rather than distract from it?
Anna Clyne: Incorporating other art forms into a musical composition impacts both the creative process and the experience of the performance itself. Through collaborating with artists from other fields – be it choreographers, filmmakers or visual artists – composers have an opportunity to draw inspiration from multiple sources, and to see and hear their music from a different perspective – through a different lens.
One of the exciting aspects of our after-hours concert, Visualizing Music, is that the three works on the program have explored different creative processes, ranging from Chris Cerrone’s Memory Palace, whereby filmmaker Francesco Simeti responded to Chris’ existing composition, to a new work created together, simultaneously, by musician Bora Yoon and visual artist Joshue Ott. The works on this program also explore differences in the way that the visuals interact with the music – from Paola Prestini’s Labyrinth, which has a fixed film component, created by S. Katy Tucker, with sonic and visual breaths to allow for more elasticity between the music and the visuals, to Joshue Ott’s drawing with his custom made software, superDraw, which will be a real-time interaction with Bora Yoon’s live music.
The performance setting also becomes an integral part of the visual/aural experience – interesting approaches can be explored as to how the visuals are projected, be they on a screen above the performance area, onto the walls enveloping the musicians, or even onto their bodies – it offers an opportunity to really re-imagine the concert environment – and to enhance rather than distract away from the performance. We are delighted to be presenting Visualizing Music at National Sawdust, a wonderful new performance venue in Brooklyn, which has state of the art technology for both acoustics and visuals.
ACO: You are a featured composer in SONiC Festival as well as Associate Curator, and your piece Pocket Book VIII will receive its world premiere by Roomful of Teeth at National Sawdust. What can you tell us about this piece?
AC: Roomful of Teeth are incredible musicians, both individually, and as an ensemble. I was fortunate to spend some time with them during their residency at Mass MoCA this Summer – to have a chance to hear them rehearse a new work by Ted Hearne
, and to become more familiar with the characteristics of each individual singer. Through their repertoire – all by living composers – they have expanded the sounds available to composers – it’s like being given a whole new set of paints to explore, which is really exciting! Pocket Book VIII
is actually a very simple, short piece. It is the first in, what will become, a suite of five pieces – each exploring five different sonnets by William Shakespeare – this one being Sonnet 8 (of the 154 he wrote). With each subsequent sonnet/setting, I will take the voices in a wilder direction – so VIII is the kernel of an idea that will later be developed. The title Pocket Book comes from a tiny blue book, 5” x 3”, of the complete sonnets, that was passed down to me from my Irish grandmother, from which I have wanted to set a collection for a while, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to begin that process.
ACO: Which concert at SONiC Festival do you think will most surprise its audience? Which concert are you most excited to see?
AC: It’s difficult to select one concert, as they’re all really exciting, and so eclectic – the festival represents so many exciting musicians, ensembles and composers – from a whole range of musical influences and styles. As a keen collaborator, I suppose I am particularly drawn to the concerts that explore new collaborations between composers and artists from other art forms. New Sounds – New Moves
will be an evening of three fresh off the press works created in collaboration between five musicians and three choreographers – it will be exciting to see and hear these works for the very first time. I have a feeling that they will all be quite different! I’m also very excited to experience the work on our Machine Music
concert, which presents five wonderfully imaginative works – ranging from the world premiere of Molly Herron’s Stellar Atmospheres, which incorporates Andy Cavatorta’s Dervishes – an 8-foot tower of spinning corrugated tubes that has been described as sounding like a “choir of angry angels”, to the premier of Albert Behar’s Sound Orb – a tactile speaker system that converts sound into physical energy when placed on the audience’s hands.