EarShot Aguascalientes Symphony – Composer Spotlight: Piyawat Louilapprasert

Piyawat Louilarpprasert (he/him), “the rebel Thai composer taking music to unheard heights” (CNN News World) writes works that explore possibilities of creating the amalgamation of sonic and visual arts; including integrating multimedia and music, deconstructing instruments’ mechanism and physicality with sound production method, and involving Thai traditional music elements in new compositions.

Piyawat has received several arts and composition prizes such as Matan Givol Prize 2019 (Israel), ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award 2018, and many more. He is currently a doctoral candidate in composition at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York with Kevin Ernste and Marianthi Papalexandri Alexandri. His mentors were Valeriy Rizayev, Dai Fujikura, Jonathan Cole and Gilbert Nuono.

Piyawat’s piece Light and Flame was selected for the Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra EarShot New Music Readings, which takes place August 12-14, 2019 in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Piyawat spoke to us about the readings and his piece.

Composer Piyawat Louilarpprasert. Photo by Marije van den Berg

American Composers Orchestra: What was your reaction to finding out your piece had been selected for the Aguascalientes EarShot New Music Readings?
Piyawat Louilarpprasert: I was very excited because this is such a great opportunity for contemporary composer to be selected for the Aguascalientes EarShot New Music Readings. I am very looking forward to working with the orchestra and meeting new people there.
ACO: What are you doing to prepare for the readings? Are there any changes you have made to your piece since you found out it would be performed by the Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra?
PL: In general, I do not really change the music, however, I try to check through all the parts and scores in order to make the most efficient material for musicians and conductor. Moreover, I am preparing some questions regarding practicality of orchestral writing which I hope I could have a little discussion with people there.
ACO: What are you looking forward to about the workshops and readings? What do you hope to learn from the experience?
PL: Definitely, I hope to share my music and compositional concept to musicians in the orchestra as well as receive feedback and any thought that I could develop my composition for the next opportunity. 
ACO: In your bio you write that your works aim to “explore possibilities of creating the amalgamation of sonic and visual art.” With your piece, Light and Flame, there will be no visual element present. That said, is your goal to conjure up an image of “light and flame” for the listener?
PL: This is a very good question, generally, I usually compose music by using visual elements in somehow. Talking about the concept of this work, the keywords are “Light” and “Flame,” I am trying to explore sonic possibilities by portraying the gesture and the color of light or flame through different instrumental sound production. Ultimately, this process creates both sonic aspect and visual imagination. 
ACO: Can you talk about what it means, to you, to be an American composer?
PL: Interestingly, I moved to the U.S. for awhile. I came from Southeast Asian tradition which I found the cultures have great number of differentiation. Personally, both are great for me, in addition, I could learn the culture and adapt into my composition. Especially, living in the U.S. as an American composer, there are many possibilities to make art and music happen where I could both learn new things and share my own ideas to people in this great community. This is very meaningful to me. 

Piyawat’s piece Light and Flame will be workshopped and performed at the Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra EarShot New Music Readings, which takes place August 12-14, 2019 in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Learn more about Piyawat Louilarpprasert at www.piyawatmusic.com

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