Quince & TAK Ensembles Conversation

Quince & TAK Ensembles Conversation


>>David Plylar: Good
evening, everybody. My name is David Plylar. I’m a music specialist at
the Library of Congress. And I am super excited
about tonight’s concert. Which is a double bill for our
annual founders day concert. That takes place on October 30
of each year on the birthday of Elizabeth Sprague
Coolidge who is kind of our of founding patron, as we know, and to whom we owe this
concert series that we have. So tonight’s double
bill we have the Quince and the TAK ensembles. And with me I have Amanda
DeBoer Bartlett from Quince. I have next to me
Charlotte Mundy from TAK and Laura Cocks from TAK. And so we are, I’m super excited
about this program for a number of reasons and I’m going to
get them to talk about it. But one of them is that we
get to hear music by composers who we may not have heard
much music of before, if you’re not familiar
with kind of what’s going on with this type of repertoire. And one of the reasons that
we may not be as familiar with it is because these are
unique types of ensembles. So I think that what we’ll
do is maybe talk a bit about, kind I go back and forth and
talk a bit about how you come up with the repertoire
that you do and so forth. So maybe we can start with TAK. Maybe you can tell us a
bit about your ensemble, how you came into being and
what the process has been about getting repertoire
for this union council.>>Laura Cocks: Yeah so
TAK was founded in kind of an interesting manner. A lot of groups come together
and they’re like I want to be a string quartet
or I’m really excited about being a woodwind quintet. And TAK came to be because
we were really excited about each other, as
people and as musicians. And we kind of treated
the instrumentation as something secondary to the mutual musical
understandings that we had. And our respect for each other
as people and our joy in working with each other as people. So in the cultivation of our repertoire that’s
something that stands as well. A lot of the composers
that we work with, we have really long
standing relationships with. Three of the composers on our
half of the pieces tonight, are people who we worked
on multiple occasions. I think one of them we have,
we were counting in the car, seven pieces from and
that’s Taylor Brooke. And we also have a
whole album of his work. So we cultivate these
really kind of longstanding in depth relations
with the composers that inform both our
practice as we continue and also their compositional
practices, they keep working. So you know for us that’s one
of the most special things about our existence and
the way we do repertoire.>>David Plylar: Maybe you
can tell them a bit on what that instrumentation is.>>Charlotte Mundy: It’s
a voice, flute, clarinet, violin and percussion. And it turns out to be a really
beautiful instrumentation to, even though we weren’t
really considering that.>>Laura Cocks: Yeah. [laughter]>>David Plylar: And we’ll come to the specific pieces here
shortly but what about Quince? What’s, give us>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett: Well
I think we share a similar ethos to TAK and that we came together
because we were interested in each other as people. We’re for treble voices,
three sopranos and one Mezzo. We met in graduate school and
we’re interested in vocal music that wasn’t just
storytelling and wasn’t just about sounding like
pretty angels. We wanted to explore the
range of colors of the voice and the possibilities with
the voice outside of the sort of iconic, the icon of
what the singer’s supposed to be in society. So that’s something
that we came together. And there’s actually
not a lot of repertoire for treble, vocal ensemble. The repertoire that does exist
is for a girl’s choir usually. And so it’s not necessarily,
it’s often very beautiful but it’s not always very
musically challenging and it’s written
for young voices, not necessarily full
blown opera singer voices, which we’re all trained
in opera. So we commissioned a
lot of repertoire also and we have a very
close relationship with the composers
we work with as well. And we want them
to push the limits of what the voice represents,
sonically and metaphorically.>>David Plylar: So one
thing I’ve noticed with, so I’m hearing some
of these pieces for the first time tonight. Some of these are
world premieres that you’ll hear tonight. And I was just hearing some of
them for the first time in bits and pieces in the rehearsals and
one of the thing that struck me about both groups is that
there’s an element of, I would almost call it, instead
of like a personal virtuosity like just an ensemble
virtuosity that’s required to, there’s such intricate writing that requires a virtuosic
ensemble in order to actually pull it off. And it was being pulled off in
a spectacular fashion, I think, and there’s a lot of different
stylistic varieties as well. But you know maybe going back
to TAK, maybe you can say a bit about how you approach the
integration of the voice into this instrumental ensemble?>>Laura Cocks: That’s a
great question for Charlotte. She’s our vocalist.>>Charlotte Mundy: That’s
yeah, how do we approach it? That’s an interesting question. We just, I mean I as a singer
am really interested in finding as many different colors
as I can with my voice. And I really, it helps to play
with people for many years in a row and learn
how they sound. And I feel like it’s
really affected my technique to sing all the time with
the violin and a flute and the clarinet and
try to blend with them. I think it’s just about
repetition and time, yeah. And we often play pieces
that don’t have text that really treat the
instrument or the voice as an instrument, yeah.>>David Plylar:
There also seems to be some additional component
that we’re often, other, at least it sounded to me,
maybe this is an illusion, but it sounded to me
like the other members of the ensemble were also making
sound with their voices as well.>>That’s true, yeah
that happens a lot, singing into instruments and>>David Plylar: That seems to
me kind of like a, I don’t know, an equalizing force or something
like that, at least to my ears.>>Charlotte Mundy:
Absolutely, yeah, that’s astute.>>David Plylar: There’s
an element of that as well so you have a, with Quince
there’s a wide variety also of styles of music that you do. I know you’ve done everything
from the [inaudible] to playing or something like that. So there’s kind of
this big difference. Is there any fundamental
approach that you take or do you just treat
each piece as its own?>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett: Yeah each piece does require
its own acoustic consideration. The folk music that we’re doing,
we’re working with residence in a totally different way. What we’re trying to do
is psychically connect with the other members or really
stare at their mouths and try to imitate the mouth shapes. We’re four very different
voices. While trying to blend with each
other has been its own very microscopic acrobatic
exercise in our larynx. And it’s very interesting
to work with them versus singing solo. And some people, I don’t know
if you’ve experienced this, Charlotte, I’m talking
across the divide, the question or divide here. [laughter] But sometimes people
don’t consider vocal music chamber music. And this is something
that we run up against. You’re either the
soloist or you’re a choir. But we really are thinking
like chamber musicians. We’re thinking about cues, we’re
thinking about reading together and our own versions
of up bow, down bow, like string players use. We use as singers for
consonants and things like that. So we’re thinking like
a string quartet really.>>David Plylar: I definitely,
you definitely sense, I think they will, everybody
watching you will see that sense of movement in both
groups about how that communication is happening. It’s definitely not hidden. So that will be fun to
watch as well just to see. Maybe we can talk
a bit about some of the specific pieces
that we have. I know that we have a
few of the composers. I think a few of the composers
are going to be here tonight, including Frederico Garcia-De
Castro whose here so hello. And if you have questions at the end we can also
ask him, just so we know. Maybe we can say a few
things about what brought us to select these particular
pieces for this program, maybe starting with TAK.>>Laura Cocks: I think,
these particular pieces, I think there’s a
many fold explanation for why these particular pieces. I think one of them is
that these are all pieces that we care about very deeply. These are pieces that we
have performed several times, the composers of which are
people that we very much cherish as friends and as colleagues. But I think from like a more
programming type of angle for looking at why we
chose these pieces. There’s some things that bring
them all together and it’s kind of actually what we were just
talking about with regards to chamber music and like are
you a soloist or what kind of blends you’re making and are
you like creeping the people across from you to try to
match with work with them? All of the pieces that we have
tonight, with some exceptions in little moments of the
pieces, are really kind of about creating some sort
of amalgam or some sort of synthesized space where we
all really access similar colors or similar ideas and become kind of one instrument
together as the ensemble. So there’s actually a piece that
we’re playing called Amalgam which is why that
word was probably on the tip of my tongue. But you’ll hear that really
explicitly in that piece and as the composer kind of
explores what that means, how to move away from it,
how to come back into it. In David Byrds [phonetic] series
Imposter you’ll hear a lot of things too where the
instruments are kind of occupying the same space and there’s something
really crunchy about it. Like what gets problematized
when we’re all in that same very small space. And Erin Gee’s Mouthpiece 28
kind of builds this weird like, you know, alien, none meaning,
vocal language for Charlotte, out of which the rest of our
parts are really extrapolated to lift her up but also
in doing so lift all of us up as a singular unit.>>Charlotte Mundy:
I agree with that. [laughter]>>David Plylar: Ok this is
kind of a question for both, I mean how do you handle
issues of endurance, especially for a local
quartet and things with this, this music is so demanding
that I just imagine that it’s , is that maybe something
that also goes into that process of selection? Or do you just go for it?>>Laura Cocks: I think, yes, I
think that goes into the process of selection but perhaps
not necessarily in the way that we envision when
we think about, oh, this is going to be demanding. What do we do? I think the five of us are
kind of like oh, this is going to be demanding, score. Like you know if
something about it is going to like make you feel a little
physically uncomfortable because of the effort that you
have to put in to execute it, there’s something really
exciting about that. And like you know you
turn up that dial in terms of virtuosity whether
it’s technical virtuosity or like the physical
virtuosity necessary to execute a whole program
of this kind of music. You know there’s a real beauty
in the cost where is, you know, where do you get
cut off there so?>>David Plylar: One nice,
there is some contrast actually in it’s not just the
quintet and the quartet. There’s one piece that Laura
and Charlotte are doing together by Kate Soper that
are places on here. Maybe you could say a little bit
about that piece in particular because this is a duet,
kind of in the midst of,>>Charlotte Mundy: And so that’s a piece called
Only the Words Themselves Mean What They Say and the
text is by Lydia Davis. And it’s one of the few pieces that we’re playing
that has a text. It comes from a larger cycle of
Kate Soper’s called Ipsa Dixit which is kind of all about
attempting to use language and logic to understand
life in the world and in the end kind
of failing to. And so this movement,
it is logical but it’s also very
emotional and there are a lot of noisy sounds that
I get to make. And speaking of endurance,
there are sounds that I make in the performance that
I won’t make in rehearsal because I can only do it once
or twice a day without really like doing a little
bit of damage. So it’s a very exciting
piece in that way because it gets to
be really gritty. And yeah, that’s that piece. It’s super fun to get to
play it with Laura I love. We were just reading the program
notes and Kate Sopra says, the flute becomes like an
iron man suit for the voice. [laughter] Which is like,
which is just lovely.>>David Plylar: Kind of
on this, I do think that, just from what I was hearing in rehearsal there is this
element of a unified sound. You get this real sense
of a meta-instrument. It’s kind of put together
both for that piece and also your other pieces
with the larger ensembles. It’s really impressive. I think it’s going
to be exciting. Amanda, I wonder if you could
tell us a bit about some of the works that you’re doing? What makes these, forgive me,
but quintessential pieces.>>[unison] Oh. [laughter]>>Amanda DeBoer
Bartlett: That’s great. But we, when we were originally
talking to you, David, about the program I
think that the thing that we were originally united
on was the Dust Bowl Project. I’ll talk a bit about that, we are developing a concert
length program around themes of the dust bowl, drawing
a lot of inspiration from Woody Guthrie and the Dust
Bowl, his Dust Bowl ballads. We’re telling stories
of our own grandparents and this is the first time
that we’re really composing for ourselves, writing original
songs and also arranging songs. And what I think ties the
Guthrie set, the Dust Bowl set, sorry, to the Guild Alliance
and Federico’s piece, another piece is on the program
is Quince loves drama and we try to keep it out of
our personal lives and on the stage,
for the most part. [laughter] They’re all very
dramatic pieces, whether that’s in the traditional sense
like comedy, tragedy or in an acoustic drama,
Federico’s piece, for example, is very dramatic and he
took a lot of risk with it in terms of the sonic pallet. It goes from zero to 180 back to you know all these different
kinds of sonic experiences and the Dust Bowls that
we’re telling stories. In the David Lang it’s
the old school sort of folk ballad in its own way. And so that’s something that I think draws it together
is the drama of all the pieces.>>David Plylar: How big is
the Dust Bowl Set project as a whole once it’s finished.>>Amanda DeBoer
Bartlett: It will be about, yeah it will be close
to an hour of music. We’re still arranging
some pieces. If you’ve ever worked with the
Woody Guthrie estate you know that it can be kind of a process
getting the rights things, which is understandable because
everyone wants to set his music. So we’re working through that. We’ll also be telling stories
as part of that performance. So the whole performance
will be around an hour when we have the whole thing.>>David Plylar: Do you
have plans to record that?>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett: Yes.>>David Plylar: Oh great.>>Amanda DeBoer
Bartlett: Yeah, we do.>>David Plylar: Can
you tell us a bit more about Federico’s piece? So it’s in four movements. Are there any particular things
we should be listening for? And I hate that question
actually.>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett: No,
I think that’s a good question for this piece because I
think some of the sounds, I love what you talked about with the amalgam
of the ensemble. I think some of the sounds are
so tight knit with the voices that you don’t necessarily
know it’s happening. We’re doing these very
nasalized, bright sounds that emphasize the over tones a
little bit and start to sound, I don’t know, like a group of
bugs in your ear or something. You can interpret that how you
want but we’re really nasalizing and going for this very
gritty sound there. And then it takes these
kind of gritty sound mass, clustery things and
then in the end, quote Scarlatti because why not? So it turns from this
amorphous objective voice soup, I’ll call it, into this
very recognizable [foreign language] song.>>David Plylar: Interesting, we’re looking forward
to hearing this. It will be the first
time for most of us so that’s always the
exciting things about these. Here we go, stating the obvious
is what are my chief attributes that I’m good at? But I think, I don’t want to
keep everybody too long just so they can have a chance
to rest and get ready for the performance but I would
like to talk, before we go to questions from the audience,
if there are any, I would love to hear about what some
of your other projects are that you’re working on right
now, maybe some upcoming things that you’re thinking about. And so maybe we can
start at the top.>>Charlotte Mundy: The one
piece that we’re playing by Ashkan Behzadi,
Deseo, on the program. We’ve just recently gave
the American premiere of the entire cycle
which it’s from. He said, he wrote like an hour,
45 minutes of music for us. Also poems by Frederico Garcia
Lorca and that’s a gorgeous, lush, dark, mysterious
kind of sound world that we’re working on.>>Laura Cocks: Yeah and there’s
kind of a recording project down the line with
Ashkan song cycle. He keeps threatening to add
more movement so we’ll see if that happens and
then maybe deal with recording following that. One of the things that we’re
doing this year, this season and the coming one in the
spring that is really exciting to me is we’re doing
a lot of work with different academic
institutions, which is one of my favorite things
about the job that we have. You know we spend a lot of
time looking out for composers that are really exciting for us and you know continuing
the exciting relationships that we have with the
people that we know. But getting time to spend with students whose
voices are still forming but whose works are, you know,
regardless of any sort of age or training, genuinely,
incredibly mature. It’s a really immense privilege. So this year we’re doing
residencies at Stanford, Cornell, Boston University,
[inaudible] academy which is kind of like
coming together of composers from around the world
for the summer and somewhere else, right? Oh yeah, Penn and St. Clouds
University so I mean that’s one of my favorite things. There’s always a lot going on
but it’s nice to be able to sit down with people who are like
working on something for you. And you know they’re students,
they’re humble, they’re excited, they’re coming to you and
they’re asking like questions about like is this possible? And you’re like, let’s find out. And that’s like my favorite, one of my favorite
months to be in so yeah.>>David Plylar:
This kind of brings up a question for both of you. I know that you, both ensembles
rather, have experienced working with students and doing,
I’m assuming, doing readings on shows and things like that. When it’s such specialized
instrumentation or things that require a great deal
of preparation, how do you, is there a different approach
that you have when looking at a piece that you’re basically
going to be sight reading or close to sight reading, versus you know nurturing
a relation with the composer over time. How do you handle
those situations? It always strikes me as kind of, I know people do it all the
time, they do it really well but how do you approach that? Do you do it towards an aim
to just give composers a sense without damaging anybody. [laughter]>>Laura Cocks: Well
one thing that we do that I think is really like
something that I’m quite proud of talk we’re doing is we don’t, we always rehearse
before reading sessions. We rehearse the things
we’re reading. And this is not so
that like, you know, I mean partially I’m sure it’s so we don’t do the thing we’re
like, you know, you show up and you sound crummy
or something. But also like you know the
students have put their hearts into these pieces and I feel
like it’s important to show up and really give them
back, or at least try to, give them back the amount
of effort that they’ve put into preparing the
score for you. So we always you know take
some time with it beforehand but I guess the question
remains of what do you do at that first reading? I don’t know.>>Charlotte Mundy: I agree
that it feels so important to me to give a decent rendering
of whatever they’ve written because having composed a tiny
bit myself I know that feeling of like hearing other people
read through your piece, it’s really scary and it’s
really like a precious moment. So I try not to do anything
differently, like I always want to respect what the composer
has written and just try and render it the way I think
that they want to hear it.>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett: Plus it always ends
up on the internet.>>Charlotte Mundy:
Yeah that’s true.>>Amanda DeBoer
Bartlett: Better practice. [laughter]>>David Plylar: That’s a great
answer, especially for composers who are writing for us. What about upcoming projects
and events for Quince?>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett:
Yeah well we’re working on a Dust Bowl project. The full set will be
premiered in May in New York. And we’re going to be recording
the full cycle called Love Fail by David Lang and we’ll be
recording that next spring. We just released an album
last year called Mother Land, which we’re still touring some
of that repertoire and some of that is happening tonight. We were recently
in a documentary about Martin Feldman’s
Three Voices and we’re talking
about recording that. So a lot of recording,
a lot of touring.>>David Plylar: Is there one
bitter number of the group?>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett:
Oh we’re all four going to be in the recording,
[laughter] Because it’s such an exhausting piece. It’s 45 minutes with no pauses
for the voices so we’re going to share the love on
that one for sure. And then we’re premiering
a new opera in May in Pittsburgh so
that will be fun.>>David Plylar:
Whose the composer?>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett:
Curtis Rumrill, yeah, it’s going to be
really exciting. He writes all these operas about these animals doing
strange things like sort of personified animals in a way. And in this one all the
animals have disappeared so some humans have
to be the pets because there’s no more pets. And so there’s like these weird
sort of power relationships between people and some
members of Quince are going to be playing the pets and some
will be playing the humans. It’s way more serious than
I’m making it sound right now so stay tuned.>>David Plylar: Excellent. Well why don’t we, are there
any questions from the audience? If you don’t mind waiting for a microphone then we
can get, it’s coming to you.>>Sort of related to what
David asked a minute ago and specifically about vocal
music, I’ve always been curious with this really, you know,
cutting edge kind of vocal music where you don’t, obviously
you don’t just have a score with some words and notes
over them but when a, with a new piece like this, does
the composer really have to sit down with you to convey what
kind of sounds are needed? I mean it’s not like you know
a piano, you write the notes, you play the notes, you can
play them harder or softer. But there’s just
so much variation in what the voice does. How does that work?>>Laura Cocks: Really
good question.>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett:
Really good question, exactly. We just texted Frederico
yesterday and we’re like, did you mean this or this? And sent him a test with
a picture of the score. And we’re really lucky to be
able to talk to the composers and it’s a lot of discussion.>>Charlotte Mundy: It’s interesting though I
think sometimes it depends on the composer because some,
I mean it’s common to have like a key at the beginning of a
score saying this is the symbol, the weird symbol that
you see in the score and here’s what I mean by it. And some composers I think
are almost interested to see what will happen if
they leave it a little bit open and some composers have very
specific expectations so it’s like I agree, it’s always
nice to talk to the composer about their intentions
but yeah it does depend.>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett:
There is some repertoire that Charlotte and I both
sing, which is really fun because it’s nice to
hear a recording, oh wow, her voice does something
totally different there and it’s not necessarily a
different interpretation it’s just that our voices
are a little different. That’s what’s really cool
about new repertoire is to hear different
people interpreting.>>Charlotte Mundy:
Yeah exactly.>>David Plylar: I think
what you’re also hitting on though is a notation
problem that is, so when the composer
is no longer there to ask, what do you do? And there’s different
approaches that some people take and you have [inaudible], I
believe he was making some like a DVD, you know, video
tape recording as to how to make the weird sounds
on the string instruments but he wants a very
precise thing and sometimes the best way is
just to show it and hear it and I wonder do you do that
like I guess by skyping or just, those types of interactions
or just basic?>>Amanda DeBoer
Bartlett: All of the above.>>Charlotte Mundy: Yeah it is. [laughter] It is good
to see it sometimes.>>David Plylar: Composers,
are they documenting that for, you know, to allow that
to be part of the score? Is that something
that they ever do?>>Laura Cocks: I
think sometimes. I think you know sometimes
you’ll interact with a composer and you’ll be like oh this one
thing isn’t clear and something, something, something and then
they revise the score and you’re like oh my gosh, it’s beautiful. It makes sense now. Sometimes you know you see
the version of the score like three years later and
it’s completely mystifying once again. So I think it really varies.>>David Plylar: Second
question back here.>>Thanks. Can you hear me?>>Yeah.>>If you’re willing to
answer this question, how did each ensemble
get its name?>>Laura Cocks: Want
to go first?>>Amanda DeBoer
Bartlett: We were a quintet. [laughter] And then one
of the persons decided that music was not
for them and they work at a bank, we kept the name.>>David Plylar: It
wasn’t a celebration.>>Amanda DeBoer
Bartlett: We didn’t want to change it to courts. [laughter] And we
spent this whole, oh my gosh I wish I had it, we
spent this whole night trying to come up with other
names and they all ended up being super new
age like hippy names and we just couldn’t let
that be in the world. [laughter] So we kept Quince.>>Laura Cocks: I
think somewhere in like the deep archived
email recesses I have like a similar sad thread
about our naming process.>>Charlotte Mundy: Definitely.>>Laura Cocks: It got
like really bleak for a bit and really long too,
it really went to then function of long names. But TAK means a bunch
of different things in several different languages but the two most
alluring meanings for us so that it means both
yes and thank you, which are both very like, you
know, full of possibility kind of words, like oh, what’s
going to happen next? Very affirming and
positive, yeah.>>Thank you. I think that both Quince and
TAK have done performances that will involve some
type of video projection or at least some
type of mixed media. So I’ve wondered as
musicians what are some of the special challenges as
well as some of the benefits to working with mixed
media instead of just a stage performance where you’re performing
as musicians.>>Laura Cocks: Oh go ahead.>>Charlotte Mundy:
Well it is challenging. You need to find someone who
you trust to run the electronics and that’s not always easy. We’re lucky to have some
collaborators who are willing to help us with that and
who are really good at it. And I think, it’s interesting because when you have a
huge screen behind you with like beautiful
visuals going on sometimes that can really take
away from the music. So it’s a thing that I think
people are still learning how to do, like how to incorporate
projections into performances without making it overwhelming and making it about
the projection.>>Laura Cocks: We had a really, this past spring we
had the great pleasure of premiering three new
kind of musical theatre, a term I’m going to
use very loosely here. They were pieces that had music
and were theatrical period. [inaudible] Yes. [laughter] And all
of the composers, they were all very different
sources of vast different ideas of what media could
even be represented. You know one of you
were like wandering down this staircase
while you watching it. It ended up in this
basement full of candles. And one of them had
like people dancing in like space suits
and I don’t know. So it was great. But they all approached
how to deal with our performance
logistics very differently. And I’ll just share like one
hilarious anecdote which was we, for one of the pieces
never had like a full score that would tell us what
to do at any given time so you know we’d be in rehearsal
and the composers trying to work us through and he’s
like 2H, let’s start from 2H, and we’re just like we don’t
have 2H and he’s like oh, 2H is like where the people
in the back start blowing up the balloons and
singing the song about the restaurant
from the 50’s. And we were like what? But we didn’t have
the information because there wasn’t a
universal score, right? So we had to make some
very specific demands about the information
that we needed. And I think most of the, what
it ends up being for us is just like properly or properly in
terms of whatever that means for the given situation,
conveying what we need to know to kind of route where
we are and what we need to do at any given time.>>Charlotte Mundy: Yeah
but that being said, when we watched the video after it it turned
out really like cool. So it’s like that’s also
the benefit of working with mixed media is like there’s so much possibility
for expression, yeah.>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett:
Yeah I would say working with electronics, we haven’t
done a lot of the projections but we do a lot with electronics,
just projected sound. And it’s like learning
another instrument because sometimes they’re using
these complicated computer software’s to trigger all the
different sounds so we spend so much emotional and
mental energy trying to get that to work and
all the gremlins and the cables you
know to scare them off. I feel like I haven’t gotten
good enough yet to think about the music properly when
we’re but it’s something we try to get better at all the time
because it can be really cool.>>Laura Cocks: Do
you do media yourself? Are you a media artist or?>>No but it seems
like most of the music that we hear today
is accompanied by some kind of visual image.>>Laura Cocks: Yeah.>>Because most of what we hear
at [inaudible] of just music. And so you know these are
kind of different worlds.>>Laura Cocks: Yeah
seriously, seriously.>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett: Sometimes I think we’ve done
concerts that have things as a lot of media
and it’s complicated fireworks everywhere. And then we’ll follow that
with a very stark, simple, unaccompanied acoustic piece and
that piece, the acoustic piece, ends up being more startling
because we’re so used to dense complicated
electronic sounds now, all the pop music we hear,
everything is processed with hundreds of layers for
a song that you’re hearing over horrible radio
speakers in your car. Everything has all these
layers all the time. So to hear something with just
the instruments themselves, that can be the more
impactful thing, yeah.>>Laura Cocks: Yeah, yeah.>>David Plylar: I’m
wondering before we break, since we have Frederico here,
maybe I could just ask you to say a few words
about your piece. It’s just, it’s always
a pleasure to have the composer with us. So if you don’t mind just saying
a few things about the piece and also about your process
of working with the ensemble.>>Sure, yeah thank
you for asking. I was just realizing how much
I, over a month and a half of really intense work in 2017
I thought of all of you guys, all the time, every
day, every moment. Of course thinking of
the first audience, in general the audience but I realize that’s us
now including me, right, I don’t know, you’ll never
know what the final effects of what you’re writing is. In fact I’ve come to realize if you do then it’s probably
not worth going to the trouble of carrying it through, right? So I’m as curious as
everyone here about the piece. So the poem is by
Baudelaire, it’s from the, Les Fleurs du mal, Flowers of
Evil and it’s a poem that I run into in an essay by [inaudible]. He points out that
the poem is about, we could call it writer’s block. But it’s a more general thing
and that’s what the essay was about that even the monks in
the middle ages would feel this, not knowing what to and
not wanting to do anything but certainly hoping that you
would want to do something. I don’t know if I’m
making any sense with it but the poem is very sensual in
that way because it’s the devil. So the devil, and that’s what
the monks are thought of, that this was a sin. It was the devil eating
at you from inside. So the nasal sounds, the choice of a French poem was
a compositional choice because sounds in that language
are just really worth exploring. And with four voices
and nothing else, that was a very interesting
atmosphere for that. So the nasal voices, sounds that
we made was making reference to, comes from the word
sun, sunsets, that’s the first in the poem. So I spend a lot of
time [inaudible]. Right in fact I when I was
thinking of you guys I was like wow, if this is how long
it has taken from one word, but no I promise you the rest of
the text goes by more quickly. So there’s a lot of
things that of these. When I was writing where
the most important thing, you always find out that in
the experience of listening that may not be the same. Like things that were more
easy or straightforward when you were writing turn
out to be the main thrust of the listening experience. And of course Scarlatti
was easy to write. It’s such a beautiful piece. That might be the one that’s
the main effect in listening that wasn’t the main
thing for me composing. So I am as curious
as everybody here. I don’t want to give
off the idea that I didn’t know
what I was doing. I think I did. But I look forward to
seeing what you guys thought of how your experience was. Thank you for being here, thank
you Quince and thank you TAK.>>David Plylar:
Any other questions?>>Thank you. This may be a dumb question
but I’m concerned sitting in the audience that I’ll be
able to appreciate the music without knowing what
is actually to expect. So in some of your
discussion you brought in the concept of colors. And when that triggered
my mind to think of Art. So can you possibly relate
what to expect in terms of art? For instance colors, it
can be expressionistic or colors basically
give you the expression. It could be impressionistic. It could be abstract work. Or is it a combination
of everything? So I just want to
kind of go in there and say this is what
I’m going to expect because right now I really
don’t have a good idea.>>Laura Cocks: Well I think
I need at least 30 seconds to think about that
but I’ll stall and say that that’s not a dumb question. I’m super excited by
where that could go.>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett:
Ok I’ll let you stall. I’m going to go through
in order. So Gilda Lions, would
say Gilda Lions is like a woven very bright day
glow colors woven fibers. And I’ll describe
Laura Steenberg as like imagine what
it would look like to see what
Carl Sagan imagined. Like sci-fi close harmony. David Lang, the colors
I would imagine is like misty forest
landscape, that kind of thing. Imagine walking through
the woods and thinking about a very ancient
troubadour type of atmosphere. The Dust Bowl set, it’s like folk music kind
of put in a blender. Some of it’s going to sound kind
of recognizable and then some of it’s going to be more
abstract and shaken up. But it’s all surrounding
that kind of atmosphere. And then Federico’s
piece, imagine walking, like a renaissance mural in
an old Italian kind of castle. That’s how I think
of that piece.>>So basically it
goes through all of the art, classical, abstract.>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett:
All of the art, all the time.>>You took impressionistic
so it covers it all.>>Amanda DeBoer Bartlett:
And the other thing is it’s ok if you don’t like things. I go to a lot of concerts
and I don’t get it. And I think that’s ok. We can allow ourselves
to not like things and to not get things, especially our first
time hearing it. I think giving myself
permission allows me to listen with more relaxed ears.>>Charlotte Mundy: We’ll
take turns with our program. Erin Ghee, Mouthpiece 28. I think that piece is like, it’s
maybe like a dark installation where you walk into,
I’m thinking of a thing I saw years ago, like
you walk into a big drill hall and it’s totally dark. And you see like a couple
spots of light and you have to walk towards them and
figure out what they are. That’s kind of the feeling
that I get from Mouthpiece 28. And then only the
words themselves.>>Laura Cocks: Yeah only the
words themselves mean what they say is kind of an
interesting one because there are
three movements which have very distinct
separate sound roles so maybe they all get their
own little art placard. But one thing that only the
words reminds me of, I used to, my aunt, or my aunt, my
grandma is a painter. And we used to go into the
art museum and if I didn’t like something she would make
me like go like this and look at it really close
up, really small. And there’s parts
in only the words that make me remember doing that to different Kandinsky
paintings when I was a kid. And you know you see
these things and you’re like almost overwhelmed and you
like, you get this like ream of emotion and you’re like I don’t know what
to do with all that. And then you like focus in on
these really small particles of like togetherness
or collision or just like a splotch of color. And then you move on
to a different corner of the painting, that’s kind of what only the words
makes me think of.>>Charlotte Mundy: I totally
think it’s like three portraits of like three different
women and they’re like yeah. [laughter]>>Laura Cocks: Well you’ve
got options for that one.>>Charlotte Mundy: Series
in posture I think is like a big canvas with like
expressionistic like splashes of color and a few
like pretty parts. [laughter] Deseo.>>Laura Cocks: Deseo by
Ashkan Behzadi that’s kind of, it kind of reminds me of
a really beautiful ornate, maybe what we think of when
we think of like certain like, you know, chapel
ceiling type paintings. But you know kind of a little
muted by age, like crumbling around the corner,
something really ornate but something also
kind of like at odds with its external environment.>>Charlotte Mundy: Amalgam,
that’s kind of a tough one. I don’t know. It feels similar to
Mouthpiece to me. It’s like a space that you have
to walk through and understand. Maybe it’s like a
Richard Serra sculpture.>>Laura Cocks: Oh yeah, yeah.>>Charlotte Mundy: And
you can like just peer around the corner slowly.>>Laura Cocks: Then something
happens and you’re not even sure if it happened or not. [laughter]>>David Plylar: Good answers.>>Thank you. [laughter]>>Laura Cocks: Thank you. That was such a evocated
question, yeah.>>David Plylar: Are
there any other questions? I’d like to thank everybody
for the great questions and also our musicians
for joining us. And we’re going to let
them go but please join me in thanking them for joining us.>>Laura Cocks: Thank you guys.>>Charlotte Mundy: Thank you. [applause]

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