Orchestra Underground: Eastern Wind Composer Spotlight – Gity Razaz

Composer Gity Razaz attended The Juilliard School on full scholarship, holds numerous awards, and is composer-in-residence this year at National Sawdust. Her piece The Metamorphosis of Narcissus was premiered by Metropolis Ensemble at Le Poisson Rouge in 2011. The New York Times reviewed the concert, writing “The Metamorphosis of Narcissus … was a world apart: a narcotic mix of dreamy French horn and clarinet calls, limpid Impressionist timbres and electronically induced expanse. Ms. Razaz’s music was ravishing and engulfing throughout …”

Gity’s piece gets its first full orchestral performance by ACO at Eastern Wind on Friday, April 1 at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. Inspired by Salvador Dali’s painting of the same name, the work is structured as a triplex musical soundscape with each section exploring an internal/psychological stage of Narcissus’ metamorphosis.

Gity was kind enough to speak with SoundAdvice about the Iranian influence in her music and the upcoming performance.

Composer Gity Razaz

American Composers Orchestra: Can you tell us what influence, if any, your Persian heritage has had on your music?
Gity Razaz: I wasn’t trained in traditional Persian music and I was raised in a non-musical family of doctors and scientists; I believe that the influence of Persian music on me is more subconscious rather than literal: Persian music is very lyrical and since it almost always accompanies poetry, it can reflect the drama of the text. My music is very lyrical and harmonically emotional. It is also very dramatic in nature —  I’m always thinking about the dramatic trajectory of my compositions through out the process of writing.

ACO: Do you think being raised in non-musical family was an advantage or disadvantage in finding your own, as you say, lyrically and harmonically emotional voice as a composer?
GR: I think growing up in a non-musical — yet supportive and enthusiastic — family has been a great advantage in finding my own musical voice. It gave me the freedom to explore various types of music from the get-go. I think it also made me work harder to discover what was out there and what appealed to me musically and stylistically; I was lucky to have the benefits of full artistic exposure from the start of my artistic journey without feeling limited by a certain sound world.

ACO: You’ve cited Salvador Dali’s painting The Metamorphosis of Narcissus as the inspiration for this piece. What initially drew you to this painting?
GR: I’m a big fan of Salvador Dali among other painters of the Surrealist movement. “Metamorphosis of Narcissus” is one of his works employing double imagery, a technique that I’ve always found fascinating. I also love the Narcissus myth so I was eager to write a piece about this tale inspired by Dali’s painting.

“Metamorphosis of Narcissus” by Salvador Dali

ACO: What are you looking forward to about the performance of The Metamorphosis of Narcissus at Carnegie Hall by the American Composers Orchestra?

GR: I’m very excited to hear the orchestral version of the piece! The Metamorphosis of Narcissus was originally scored for chamber ensemble so I’m looking forward to hearing it performed with a large string section.
Hear Gity’s The Metamorphosis of Narcissus at Orchestra Underground: Eastern Wind – April 1, 2016 at 7:30pm at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel. More details and tickets here.
Follow Gity on Facebook, Soundcloud and YouTube

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