Robin Holcomb is a pianist, composer, librettist, singer and songwriter with four critically acclaimed albums on the Nonesuch label, a co-founder of Studio Henry and the New York Composers Orchestra with her husband Wayne Horvitz, and an internationally performed composer of orchestral, big-band, dance, theatre, and film music. Her piece All The While was selected for the EarShot Naples Philharmonic Jazz Composers Readings, May 25-26, 2016 at Artis–Naples’ Hayes Hall.
Robin answered these questions about her piece and experience at JCOI.
|Photo by Peter Gannushkin|
American Composers Orchestra: You have an exceptionally vast range of experiences as a pianist, composer, librettist, singer and songwriter. Do you think any or all of these experiences and skill sets are present when you approach writing for orchestra?
Robin Holcomb: My music, whatever the project, is often described as an amalgamation of styles resulting in something that is recognizably mine. I draw from different wells in all of my projects, yet it is all music and my work is to fashion it into something that is pleasing to my ear. So yes, all experiences and skills gained over time are present and operational and this project is no exception.
ACO: A layman’s definition of “jazz” would probably include the word “improvisation,” however, your piece for the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute does not include any improvisation. What aspects of your piece do you think fit the broader, more accurate definition of “jazz”?
RH: There are a few moments in All the While that sound a bit like jazz… I was going for the sonic exuberance and cascade of emotions that can arise from free improvisation while speaking in other musical languages. I challenged myself to get some of this feeling across in a completely notated piece. Certainly I, as the composer, improvised extensively in the creation of the work.
ACO: What are you looking forward to about the readings?
RH: I’m really excited to hear my piece played by real instruments after many months of intimacy with a computer! I look forward to seeing what was communicated accurately in my notation and how effectively the sounds are balanced. I have written for youth orchestras in the past and I am really looking forward to having some time to interact with the Naples Philharmonic of whom I have heard great things from colleagues here in Seattle! I am excited to hear the new music from my JCOI composer/colleagues and look forward to seeing the mentor composers again as well.
ACO: What has your experience in the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute been like so far?
RH: I’ve been learning a lot and have met a lot of great people!