After successfully defending my masters thesis a couple of weeks ago, I’m happily on my way to the next adventure. I’m off to Toronto for the Soundstreams emerging composers’ workshop, which starts tomorrow. I am super excited about this opportunity to work with R. Murray Schafer, Juliet Palmer and the Gryphon Trio, and to meet the other participants. In addition to composing and reading sessions, there will also be some professional development seminars covering topics such as “From emerging to emerged,” “The art of artistic directing” and “Marketing and PR.” There will also be a visit to Mr. Schafer’s farm!
The format of this workshop will be a little different from the other two I’ve participated in (Carnegie Hall and NAC). Instead of coming in with a completed piece to rehearse and tweak, we were asked to bring sketches to try out with the ensemble. The piece will be completed after the workshop.
I’ve spent the last four weeks trying to wrap my brain around a new tuning on both violin and cello. I tried to keep the tuning unchanged at first, but the open strings are so familiar and predictable. And, with the strings being turned in open fifths, the harmonics pretty much form a D major scale.
The moment I started fidgeting with the tuning pegs, the sound assumed a new darkness and mystery. The new tuning also opened up some interesting possibilities for natural harmonics and double stops. I think the pain of keeping track of how everything is notated vs. how it really sounds is well worth the effect. We’ll see what the ensemble has to say.
My primary goal for this piece is to fuse several directions in my composing, which up to now have mostly be confined to different pieces. I am trying to integrate my fascination with Ukrainian folksong with the kind of colour manipulations I was exploring in my solo cello piece, The child, bringer of light. I am taking snippets of a folksong I recorded in the village Kozats’ke, Kalyna Malyna, which has really touched me both in terms of its musical content and meaning, and making them emerge out of and dissolve into various harmonic trills.
I rented a cello and a violin to experiment with these ideas and get a feel for the tuning, but the challenge has been imagining what it will all sound like together. Being so preoccupied with the strings, I’ve also been a little neglectful of the piano, a shortcoming I am hoping to fix by and by. Anyway, I’m excited to hear it all at my first session on Tuesday. Keep tuned for further updates!