Composer Spotlight: inti figgis-vizueta interview with Garrett McQueen

ACO’s Director of Artist Equity Garrett McQueen recently interviewed NYC-based composer inti figgis-vizueta in anticipation of the World Premiere of her new work Seven Sides of Fire at ACO’s concert “The Natural Order” at Carnegie Hall on October 20th, 2022.  Get your tickets now.

The commission of Seven Sides of Fire by inti Figgis Vizueta is made possible with the support of Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature. Seven Sides of Fire was workshopped as part of ACO’s EarShot CoLABoratory, generously funded by TD Charitable Foundation.

inti figgis-vizueta (b. 1993) writes magically real musics through the lens of personal identities, braiding a childhood of overlapping immigrant communities and Black-founded Freedom schools—in Chocolate City (DC)—with direct Andean & Irish heritage and a deep connection to the land. Her musical practice is physical and visceral, attempting to reconcile historical aesthetics and experimental practices with trans & indigenous futures.

The New York Times speaks of inti’s music as “alternatively smooth & serrated” and “slyly warp[ing] time”, The Washington Post as “raw, scraping yet soaring”, and The Strad Magazine as “between the material and immaterial”. Recent honors include the 2020 ASCAP Foundation Fred Ho Award and a 2022-23 Music Fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. inti is currently in residency at Sō Percussion’s Brooklyn studio for the ‘21-22 season. Upcoming projects include new works for the Kronos Quartet, American Composers Orchestra with the Attacca Quartet, and Roomful of Teeth in collaboration with visual artist Rose Bond.

2020-2021 commissions included works for the LA Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, Attacca Quartet, JACK Quartet, & Crash Ensemble, as well as Jennifer Koh, Matt Haimovitz, Andrew Yee, and Jay Campbell. Recent performances of inti’s music have featured the International Contemporary Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Music at Copland House Ensemble, red fish blue fish, Aspen Contemporary Music Ensemble, Oberlin Sinfonietta, Ensemble Connect, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, The Walden School Players, OSSIA New Music, Ensemble Reflektor, BGSU Contemporary Ensemble, Northwestern Contemporary Ensemble, and members of the San Francisco Symphony, Oregon Symphony, and LA Philharmonic. Her music has appeared in spaces such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, and The Phillips Collection as well as the Ojai Music Festival, TIME:SPANS Festival, Kronos Festival, New Music Dublin Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Tribeca New Music Festival, ultraBACH Festival, Mizzou International Composers Festival, and New Latin Wave Festival.

In 2022, inti will join Fifth House Ensemble’s Fresh Inc Festival as lead composition faculty and return to teach for her third year at Wildflower Festival (formerly Young Women Composer’s Camp). inti also joined Kaufman Center’s Luna Composition Lab as a mentor for the ‘21-22 lab, recently completing mentorship work with the inaugural Boulanger Initiative Elizabeth Henriksen Mentorship Program. inti will also appear as composition faculty at the inaugural ‘21-22 Atlanticx Composition Festival, a program focused on Latin American composers. 

inti’s music appears on violinist Jennifer Koh’s 2021 GRAMMY-nominated album Alone Together as well as cellist Matt Haimovitz’s 2021 GRAMMY-nominated album Primavera I: the Wind

inti studied privately with Marcos Balter, George Lewis, Donnacha Dennehy, and Felipe Lara. inti received mentorship from Gavilán Rayna Russom, Du Yun, Angélica Negrón, Tania León, and Amy Beth Kirsten.

inti loves reading poetry, particularly Danez Smith and Joy Harjo. inti honors her Quechua bisabuela, who was the only woman butcher on the whole plaza central and used to fight men with a machete.​

In the Composer’s Own Words

The increasing intensity of wildfires in the United States, alongside shifts in mainstream conversations regarding decoloniality, has made clear the need for the traditional Indigenous knowledge of fire ecology. Controlled burns were integral to Indigenous peoples as part of land stewardship and modification; fire was a source of regeneration and cultivation that cleared open areas for grazing/hunting, increased regrowth of foods and medicinals, and decreased the risk of large, uncontrolled fires drawing on built-up fuel. The genocide and displacement of American Indigenous peoples in the past 400 years disrupted the caretaking of the land and introduced the colonial practice of total fire suppression. There have been recent collaborations between government environmental agencies and tribes regarding new fire regimes, but there has yet to be any significant systemic change that would ensure continued access and stewardship by American Indigenous peoples. Read More

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