For the past few summers, I have spent time with a pair of excellent instrumentalists - Chelsea Czuchra, flutist; and harpist Lindsay Buffington. This September and October, we will be taking our show on the road as the newly-formed Damselfly Trio, performing some of the "classics" of flute/harp/voice repertoire, in addition to 3 brand-new commissions and one set of transcriptions. If you're in North Carolina, Ireland, or Northern Ireland, we hope to see you soon!
Much of my creative attention recently has been on my writing - I'm reeling toward the conclusion/culmination of my doctoral studies, with a research document focused on Roger Reynolds' Sketchbook for the Unbearable Lightness of Being, for self-accompanying singer. In addition to learning to sing and play the piece, and planning the electronic component (with esteemed composer and engineer Elainie Lillios), I have had the distinct delight of spending a few hours with Professor Reynolds speaking about the piece. Now, I'm tasked with taking all this new information, and trying to honor the composer's spirit by writing many many words about it! I have (much) work cut out for me.
In the meantime, I'm bursting to share a bit of news with you, but that'll have to wait - here's a photo clue:
Just a short post to share a few personal highlights from this year's Omaha Under the Radar Festival, where I got to sing, conduct, play piano while singing, and even break out my old Buffet - Kate Soper's Voices from the Killing Jar is a riot to perform. I shared the stage with one of my favorite long-time colleagues, Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, who also directed, costumed, and sang on the production (all while running this AWESOME new music fest!), as well as Grace Manley, a rising star in Omaha and beyond!
It feels good to return to disciplines I learned long ago - I feel fortunate to find myself in a career environment that affords such opportunities. It is humbling to return to the clarinet (even briefly) for this project - It reminds me how hard I worked back in high school to get into a collegiate clarinet program. I DEFINITELY wouldn't gain admission at my current skill level - ha!
A few years ago, while traversing I-80 through Iowa with Kayleigh and Amanda (two of my compatriots in Quince), we suddenly found ourselves hurtling toward a bald eagle who swooped down and parked on the road (picking up some frozen lunch, I imagine...). Avoiding a felony and a lot of tears, we swerved in time to watch it slowly flap away out of the road.
On that tour, there were several more eagle-sightings - in images around us at rest-stops, in restaurants, on tarot readings. . .the others decided that the eagle theme was connected to me. As a gift, Amanda hand-bound for me a journal with a happy eagle print upon its cover.
Now, bald eagles are part of my every day - I live along the Mississippi River, where they nest and feed. All winter especially, I have seen them overhead, in the trees, on the ice. As I tend to with very special objects - I "saved" my journal for a special occasion. I finally started writing in it last December - silly thoughts about future programming for Quince and for myself, a list of things I dream of having in a home, goals for 2018 (become Dr. Pearse or die trying, program more solo performances for myself...)
Whether by some imbued magic, by will, or by chance, the things I write are coming true. I will present my first self-accompanied recital in May, my first non-scholastic solo recital in June, and my partner and I found a permanent home (a historic farmhouse near the River, near the eagles, and near family). Now, to complete my doctorate. . ! With wide-spread wings, I fly.
Though I haven't yet spent a whole week at home due to touring - fun news! My new home base is located just south of beautiful Winona, Minnesota. The scenery is sublime, and I look forward to exploring all the music and merriment the Mississippi River valley has to offer!
After my busiest spring to-date, I'm finding joy in getting to step back, take a breath, and plan.
This is the time of year when everything is "up in the air" - full of possibilities, full of hope. The seeds have been planted - it remains to be seen what will grow.
For me, this includes new pieces, new projects, new collaborators (!), and a renewed appreciation for the great variety of music I have the opportunity to present in the world. Quince records our third album in a few weeks, I have premieres to learn and familiar repertoire to revisit, and I may actually make progress towards completing some very important writing projects...at least one of which includes the pictured DIVAS ; )
As we're busy making resolutions, starting revolutions, and picking up where we may have left off on old projects (*cough* my dissertation *cough) - I'm thrilled to begin my musical year with the amazing women of Quince.
As we are spread about the country (with members currently located from the Missouri River to the Atlantic Ocean), rehearsing proves a special challenge. For our upcoming tours, we'll spend time in residence this month in St. Paul, Minnesota - I'm hoping for lots of snow, except on travel days... We shall convene with steel bars and bass bows, theremins, iLophones, and of course, lots and lots of music to polish!
OH! BIG NEWS! The above photo was taken just after our return from DeKalb, IL last January = where we recorded what has become our second album, hushers . We are beyond excited to announce that hushers will be released in February 2017, on New Focus Recordings - on it, you can hear works by Giacinto Scelsi, Kaija Saariaho, Warren Enström, and Kate Soper! Preorder here.
Check out my schedule for updated 2017 performances!
Just prior to the end of Milton Babbitt's centenary-year celebration, I will have the great privilege of sharing his epic Philomel at the NYU Institute of Fine Arts Duke House. In addition, composer C. Spencer Yeh will premiere a new work responding to the 1964 Babbitt score. This concert is presented as part of Some Hags, an exhibition of thought-provoking, spiky, gorgeous sculpture by artist Martha Friedman, whose works are on display at the Duke House Great Hall now until December 3.
It's probably pretty clear already, but Quince Ensemble is so, so important to me. Working with them for the past six years has changed who I am as a musician, as a colleague, and as an advocate for vocal music. This past spring, we got the once-in-a-lifetime chance to sing David Lang's love fail - a piece new to us - at the KODY Festiwal Tradycji i Awangardy Muzycznej in Lublin, Poland. Performing this gorgeous piece in a beautiful, brand new opera hall is an experience I will cherish forever.
As with most new-music ensembles, we've had our share of self-produced shows, basement/bar gigs, and we generally are in charge of all production elements (lights! outfits! stand placement!). We love this autonomy...but it was nice to feel so pampered by the Beth Morrison Projects team - who built the set, and executed all visual elements. We just had to sing - what a treat!
I want to share with you an excerpt of our Lublin performance - featuring Kayleigh Butcher singing "the outing", followed by "I live in pain".
We look forward to returning to love fail in spring 2017!
It's been a heck of a 2016 so far - performing more in my "hometown" with the lovely groups newEar and Classical Revolution KC, and singing all OVER the place (California, Poland, and points between) with Quince, in addition to my first solo Lachenmann - got lost with the amazing Stacey Barelos at this summer's Omaha Under the Radar Festival.
Many exciting projects loom on the horizon - Quince performing with Eighth Blackbird and Third Coast Percussion, a Dada recital at the Green Mill, my second Pierrot lunaire of the year - and that's just for starters!
Check out more on my schedule.