The Psyche and Cupid Miniatures are encapsulations of elements from my opera, The Golden Ass, which will premiere on February 21-23, 2020 at Nautilus Music-Theater, and will also be heard as part of the final performance of the completed production. The opera is a modern adaptation of the myth of Psyche and Cupid by Apuleius that combines Apuleius's text with a new libretto by Patrick Gallagher. The Miniatures zoom in on certain characteristic sounds from the opera and re-contextualize, re-imagine, and expand upon those sounds.
What was the most fulfilling aspect of composing this work? What made it challenging?
I'm a huge Webern fan and have always been captivated by his ability to make me feel like I'm stepping into and out of a fully-realized world within the the space of thirty seconds or a minute when I listen to his music. There is a sense that the pieces are just long enough, but not too long. Every note counts. I have tried to create that same sense in these Miniatures, but doing that is extremely challenging. The most fulfilling aspect of composing the work was working with the musicians of Zeitgeist and Alyssa Anderson during the Zeitgeist Composer Workshop last summer and again in rehearsals after the Miniatures were finished. I really enjoy the process of experimenting with different ideas and learning about each musician's unique abilities.
Do you have a favorite instrumentation to write for? Why?
I don't really have a favorite instrumentation to write for. The most important and enjoyable criterion I rely on to make instrumentation decisions (whenever possible), is that of working with musicians of all sorts who are very flexible and who enjoy a challenge. I also really like composing for unlikely combinations of instruments and voices.
Which composers and/or pieces have influenced you the most?
I have been influenced greatly by so many composers! Certainly listening to, studying, and performing Webern, Mahler, Debussy, Stravinsky, Babbitt, Schoenberg, and Stockhausen has made a very clear impact on my music. I performed Mahler's and Debussy's art songs as an undergraduate vocal performance major and still think about those songs all the time. Schoenberg and Webern are such romantics and I love Schoenberg's theatrical bent. All of these composers are also such wonderful technicians! These are elements that have become important in my own music. I have also been heavily influenced by my studies with J. Kevin Waters, Jonathan Middleton, James Dillon, and Chaya Czernowin, and certainly by aspects of their music, as well. J. Kevin Waters taught me about the importance of working every day, rather than waiting for inspiration to strike. Jonathan Middleton gave me permission to break the rules. James Dillon and Chaya Czernowin have helped me to think about the philosophies behind my music and the importance of a solid conceptual foundation.
What is 113 Composers Collective? What does 113's upcoming program look like?
113 is a group of composers and performers who produce concerts, educational workshops for people of all ages, and guest artist residencies. This season will feature an international tour of performances of new works for saxophone by Acute Trio, based in the US and Switzerland with performances in the Twin Cities on October 15-16; the premiere of my opera, The Golden Ass, featuring performances by Quince Vocal Ensemble, Justin Anthony Spenner, and Adam Zahller, and stage direction by Joey Crane, at Nautilus Music-Theater; a performance of new works for percussion and piano by Bent Duo in New York City in April; and the Twin Cities New Music Festival May 27-31, featuring portrait concerts and talks by Steven Takasugi, Anthony Green, Joe Horton, and Bethany Younge, as well as performances of pieces selected from 113's annual call for scores. Our season kickoff event will be hosted at the Wine Thief & Ale Jail and will include free beer and wine tastings and food available for purchase from Anchor Fish and Chips at 4 p.m. on September 20. We'd love to party there with people before the Zeitgeist performance that evening! For more information about these events, our web address is www.113collective.com.
Anything you would like to add?
I'm very grateful to Zeitgeist for the opportunity to serve as Composer-in-Residence and have really enjoyed getting to know, working, and performing with them!
HERE AND THERE 2019
ZEITGEIST & NO EXIT ENSEMBLE
Sept 20-21, 7:30 p.m. & Sept. 22, 2 p.m. • Studio Z, St. Paul, MN