EarShot Sarasota Orchestra – Composer Spotlight: Kitty Xiao

Kitty Xiao ​is an Australian composer, pianist, and collaborative artist based in Rochester, New York. She is currently completing a Master of Music (Composition) at the Eastman School of Music as a graduate award recipient, studying composition with Robert Morris and piano with Tony Caramia. Xiao is founder, composer and pianist of Nimbus Trio and released her first album ​Novum​ in 2016 as a represented artist of Move Records label. In 2017 Kitty formed the Six Piano Collective and is Artistic Director of the ​Six Piano Project​. The same year she launched a new concert series ​NoiseSense​. 

Kitty Xiao’s piece Ink and Wash was selected for the EarShot Sarasota Orchestra New Music Readings, where it will be rehearsed and performed under the direction of conductor Christopher Rountree. A reading session on Saturday, March 16, 8PM is open to the public at Holley Hall. Click here for more information.

We spoke with Kitty about her piece and the EarShot program.

Composer and pianist Kitty Xiao

American Composers Orchestra: What was your reaction to finding out your piece had been selected for the Sarasota Orchestra EarShot New Music Readings?

Kitty Xiao: Excitement to work with and meet everyone!

ACO: You write that your piece Ink and Wash is inspired by Chinese calligraphy and the work of New York-based artist Gu Wenda. Can you talk about any particular works of his that inspired the piece? How does the meaning of the characters, in addition to how they look, fit into the inspiration you take from these works?

KX: I am interested in the energy, gesture, and intent in the practice of the tradition. His works Negative and Positive Characters and Tranquility comes from Meditation liberate themselves from traditional technical and aesthetic structures, and often rearranges Chinese characters over surreal splashed ink landscapes. I was drawn to the way in which Wenda works with a past tradition to create new ways in questioning the present and the future.

Negative and Positive Characters by Gu Wenda

Tranquility comes from Meditation by Gu Wenda

ACO: What are you doing to prepare for the readings? Are there any changes you have made to your piece?

KX: I am currently familiarizing myself with my piece again, as I finished composing it in November! There’s a part of me that wants to keep it completely fresh for the first time I hear the orchestra read it, but I also want to be there and being able to address any part of the score. I expect the first reading will reveal much of any changes that will be required for the performance. I think the feedback will be extremely valuable for developing my orchestral writing whether I choose to further develop this piece or any future projects.

ACO: What are you looking forward to about the workshops and readings? What do you hope to learn from the experience?

KX: I think the workshops and readings will open up great discussions about topics of orchestration and also challenges and solutions for composers working with orchestras. It’s going to be wonderful receiving the support and conversation with the mentor composers.

Kitty Xiao’s piece Ink and Wash will be performed by the Sarasota Orchestra, led by conductor Christopher Rountree, on Saturday, March 16, 8PM at Holley Hall. Click here for more information.

Learn more about Kitty Xiao at www.kittyxiaomusic.com

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