Gustave le Gray

2012

Chopin’s opus 17 A minor Mazurka is one of the most exquisite, perfect pieces of music ever made. The opening alone contains a potent poetic balance between the viscosity and density of the descending harmonic progression and the floating onion skin of the loose, chromatic melody above. Or, in fewer words – it’s very prosciutto and mint. When someone asks me, “So what is your music like?” – I’ll sometimes answer (depending on who’s asking), “Kind of like sashimi?” That is, it’s often made of chords and sequences presented in their raw, naked, preciously unadorned state – vividly fresh and new, yet utterly familiar. Chopin is a different type of chef. He covers much more harmonic real estate than I do, and his sequences are more varied and inventive. He weaves a textured narrative through his harmony that takes you through different characters and landscapes, whereas I’d sometimes be happy listening to a single well-framed, perfectly voiced triad. But the frame is the hard part – designing the perfectly attuned and legible internal system of logic and memory that is strong but subtle enough to support an authentic emotional experience of return. (Not to get all Proustian or anything.) In some way that I can’t really understand or articulate yet, photographs can do this with a remarkable economy of means. Translating that elusive syntax into music is an interesting challenge. Then again, sometimes music is just music. Gustave Le Gray is a multi-layered portrait of Op. 17 #4 using some of Chopin’s ingredients overlaid and hinged together with my own. It was written expressly for pianist Amy Yang, who is one of the truest artists I’ve ever met.


Caroline Shaw US

Caroline Shaw is a New York-based musician appearing in different guises. She is a Grammy-winning singer in Roomful of Teeth and a violinist in ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble), and in 2013 Caroline became the youngest ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, for her enigmatic composition Partita for 8 Voices. She was the inaugural musician in residence at Dumbarton Oaks (2014-15) and continues her residency with Vancouver’s Music on Main through 2016.Caroline has also performed with Signal, the Trinity Wall Street Choir, Alarm Will Sound, the Mark Morris Dance Group Ensemble, and the Knights. Recent and current projects include commissions for the Carmel Bach Festival, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Guggenheim Museum Words & Process Series, The Crossing Choir, the Baltimore Symphony, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the Aizuri Quartet, and the Folger Library, as well as her first feature film score for To Keep the Light (currently in post-production).

For more information about Caroline Shaw, click here.

Caroline Shaw