By Chamber Music & Jazz Conversations
A bi-weekly podcast, Soundweavers explores the triumphs and tribulations of the chamber music community through conversations with emerging and established performers, composers, and educators. Through dialogue, trialogue—and sometimes even tetralogue—with guest artists and ensembles, we delve into what it means to present contemporary and traditional classical, jazz, and folk music in today’s ever-shifting gig economy.
2.7 Connecting to Her Roots: Reena Esmail
Reena Esmail joins us to chat about integrating her Western and Hindustani roots in her composition and throughout her work as artistic director of Shastra. We chat about how she prepares listeners with less experience for musical experiences that are new to them. She speaks about her work as composer-in-residence of Street Symphony, a non-profit organization bringing music to Los Angeles-based homeless and incarcerated populations on Skid Row and beyond. And, we talk about her methods for introducing Western musicians to primarily aural traditions. Indian-American composer Reena Esmail works between the worlds of Indian and Western classical music, and brings communities together through the creation of equitable musical spaces. Esmail’s work has been commissioned by ensembles including the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Kronos Quartet, Imani Winds, Richmond Symphony, Town Music Seattle, Albany Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Girls Chorus, The Elora Festival, Juilliard415, and Yale Institute of Sacred Music. Upcoming seasons include new work for Seattle Symphony, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Amherst College Choir and Orchestra, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and Conspirare. Esmail is the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s 2020-2023 Swan Family Artist in Residence, and Seattle Symphony’s 2020-21 Composer-in-Residence. Previously, she was named a 2019 United States Artist Fellow in Music, and the 2019 Grand Prize Winner of the S & R Foundation’s Washington Award. Esmail was also a 2017-18 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. She was the 2012 Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (and subsequent publication of a work by C.F. Peters). Esmail holds degrees in composition from The Juilliard School (BM’05) and the Yale School of Music (MM’11, MMA’14, DMA’18). Her primary teachers have included Susan Botti, Aaron Jay Kernis, Christopher Theofanidis and Martin Bresnick, Christopher Rouse and Samuel Adler. She received a Fulbright-Nehru grant to study Hindustani music in India. Her Hindustani music teachers include Srimati Lakshmi Shankar and Gaurav Mazundar, and she currently studies and collaborates with Saili Oak. Her doctoral thesis, entitled Finding Common Ground: Uniting Practices in Hindustani and Western Art Musicians explores the methods and challenges of the collaborative process between Hindustani musicians and Western composers. Esmail was Composer-in-Residence for Street Symphony (2016-18) and is currently an Artistic Director of Shastra, a non-profit organization that promotes cross-cultural music connecting music traditions of India and the West. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Reena Esmail, please visit her website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
December 1, 2021
2.6 Recasting Old Gems in a New Light: Pacific Harp Project
Harpist Megan Bledsoe Ward joins us to chat about how she stumbled into improvisation as a harpist and how her early experiences resulted in the genre-weaving collaboration that Pacific Harp Project has become. We talk about her process for funding and then recording her first album, and how her ensemble approaches marketing. And we discuss how much there is to learn about a work by recasting it in new and interesting ways. Praised for their “engaging jazz...with scintillating plays of light and subtle colors” by DownBeat Magazine, Pacific Harp Project’s emergence on the jazz scene has surprised listeners with a unique sonic experience. By incorporating classical harp music into the realms of jazz, pop, and fusion, this groundbreaking group “leads the listener to the conclusion: The harp has been unchained.” (AllAboutJazz.com) Pacific Harp Project launched in 2014 and released their self-titled debut album in December, 2015 with a sold-out concert. The album won the 2016 Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Instrumental Album of the Year, and received positive reviews from DownBeat Magazine, Jazz Weekly, CD Hotlist, AllAboutJazz.com, The Aquarian Weekly, TheJazzPage.com, Midwest Record, LA Jazz Scene, Honolulu Star Advertiser, and ASX.com. Pacific Harp Project’s 2017 recording of “Loops” by Noel Okimoto was nominated for a RoundGlass International Music Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Single, and the group’s second album, “Play,” was released in 2019 to critical acclaim. Pacific Harp Project formed when harpist Megan Bledsoe Ward teamed up with illustrious jazz musicians Noel Okimoto (vibraphone), Todd Yukumoto (saxophone), Jon Hawes (bass), and Allan Ward (drums). Bledsoe Ward approaches jazz harp from a new perspective, leaning on her experience in classical performing, composing, and arranging. CD Hotlist notes: “Megan Bledsoe Ward has a solid grasp of the jazz idiom—she’s not a dabbler or dilettante...When she ventures into the very dangerous territory of arranging classical pieces in a jazz style, she comes out the other side not just unscathed but triumphant.” Combined with original compositions by Bledsoe Ward and Noel Okimoto, the result is an innovative collaboration in which the musicians delight in working together and captivating audiences at each performance. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about the Pacific Harp Project, please visit their website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
November 17, 2021
2.5 3 Essentials of Starting a Project: Cast Chat
In this cast chat, the team discusses three essential components for launching a new project, from beginning by articulating a vision and a timeframe to human resources and budget development. Soundweavers explores the triumphs and tribulations of the chamber music community through conversations with emerging and established performers, composers, and educators. Through dialogue, trialogue—and sometimes even tetralogue—with guest artists and ensembles, we delve into what it means to present contemporary and traditional classical, jazz, and folk music in today’s ever-shifting gig economy. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Soundweavers, please visit them at their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
November 3, 2021
2.4 15 Years of Music-Making With No Real Plan: Yarn/Wire
Laura Barger from Yarn/Wire joins the Soundweavers team to chat about what it really means to proceed without a plan, auditioning and integrating new members, and the usefulness of the recording process for musicians. We discuss their collaborative project Be Holding with the poet Ross Gay, composer Tyshawn Sorey, and director Brooke O'Harra, and the first- to twelfth-grade students of Girard College. Laura shares about the ensemble's web series Feedback, in which they focus on the process of making new music. And, we speak about the Yarn/Wire International Institute, a tuition-free program serving both performers and composers. Yarn/Wire is a New York-based percussion and piano quartet (Sae Hashimoto and Russell Greenberg, percussion; Laura Barger and Ning Yu, pianos) dedicated to the promotion of creative, experimental new music. Pianist Julia Den Boer will join as guest artist for the 2021-2022 season. Described by The Brooklyn Rail as “fascinating and exciting, with playing that is precise and full of purpose,” the ensemble is admired globally for the energy and precision it brings to performances of today’s most adventurous compositions. Founded in 2005, the ensemble seeks to expand the representation of composers so that it might begin to better reflect our communities and experience new creative potential. Yarn/Wire appears internationally at prominent festivals and venues including the Lincoln Center Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra Hall, Rainy Days Festival (Luxembourg), Ultima Festival (Norway), Transit Festival (Belgium), Dublin SoundLab, Monday Evening Concerts (Los Angeles), Contempuls Festival (Prague), Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York’s Miller Theatre at Columbia University, River-to-River Festival, La MaMa Theatre, Festival of New American Music, and London’s Barbican Centre. Their numerous commissions include works from composers such as Enno Poppe, Michael Gordon, George Lewis, Ann Cleare, Peter Evans, Alex Mincek, Thomas Meadowcroft, Misato Mochizuki, Sam Pluta, Tyondai Braxton, and Kate Soper. The ensemble enjoys collaborations with genre-bending artists such as Tristan Perich, Ben Vida, Mark Fell, and Sufjan Stevens. Through the Yarn/Wire International Institute and Festival and other educational residencies and outreach programs, Yarn/Wire works to promote not only the present but also the future of new music in the United States. Their ongoing commissioning series, Yarn/Wire/Currents, serves as an incubator for new experimental music. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Yarn/Wire, please visit their website, Bandcamp, Yarn/Wire Feedback Series, and YouTube (Yarn/Wire International Institute).
October 20, 2021
2.3 Music Education & Building Community: Viet Cuong
Composer Viet Cuong joins us to discuss the role that marching band played in his formative years and the impact it continues to have on his current career. He shares his approach to composing for small ensembles, preparing students to take advantage of new and innovative tools, and the skills vital for success as a freelance musician. We finish with a conversation about what it means to “sound like tomorrow”. Called “alluring” and “wildly inventive” by The New York Times, the “irresistible” (San Francisco Chronicle) music of American composer Viet Cuong (b. 1990) has been commissioned and performed on six continents by musicians and ensembles such as the New York Philharmonic, Eighth Blackbird, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Sō Percussion, Alarm Will Sound, Atlanta Symphony, Sandbox Percussion, Albany Symphony, PRISM Quartet, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Dallas Winds, among many others. Viet’s music has been featured in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, National Gallery of Art, and Library of Congress, and his works for wind ensemble have amassed hundreds of performances worldwide, including at Midwest, WASBE, and CBDNA conferences. He was recently featured in The Washington Post‘s “21 for ’21: Composers and performers who sound like tomorrow.” In his music Viet enjoys exploring the unexpected and whimsical, and he is often drawn to projects where he can make peculiar combinations and sounds feel enchanting or oddly satisfying. His recent works thus include a percussion quartet concerto, tuba concerto, snare drum solo, and, most recently, a concerto for two oboes. This eclecticism extends to the range of musical groups he writes for, and he has worked with ensembles ranging from middle school bands to Grammy-winning orchestras and chamber groups. Viet is also passionate about bringing different facets of the contemporary music community together, and he will have opportunities to do so with an upcoming concerto for Eighth Blackbird with the United States Navy Band. He recently began his tenure as the California Symphony’s 2020-2023 Young American Composer-in-Residence, where he and the symphony will develop three new orchestral works together over three years. Viet is currently on the music theory and composition faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He holds degrees in music composition from the Curtis Institute of Music (Artist Diploma), Princeton University (MFA), and the Peabody Conservatory (BM/MM). His mentors include Jennifer Higdon, David Serkin Ludwig, Donnacha Dennehy, Steve Mackey, Dan Trueman, Dmitri Tymoczko, Kevin Puts, and Oscar Bettison. During his studies, he held the Daniel W. Dietrich II Composition Fellowship at Curtis, Naumburg and Roger Sessions Fellowships at Princeton, and Evergreen House Foundation scholarship at Peabody, where he was also awarded the Peabody Alumni Award (the Valedictorian honor) and Gustav Klemm Award. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Viet Cuong, please visit his website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and SoundCloud.
October 6, 2021
2.2 The Genre-Jumping Saxophonist: Idit Shner
Saxophonist Idit Shner joins us to chat about moving between the classical and jazz worlds, her early love for baroque music as a young recorder player, and her thoughts on providing space for students to experience music-making across genres. Idit talks about the differences in the physical technique and the mental preparation for jazz vs. classical performance, and how this influences her approach to performing and recording. She shares her interest in exploring traditional Jewish and Zimbabwean musics, the internal grammar inherent in each piece, the role that her local musical community plays in inspiring her work, and how she hates the word fusion when blending the musics of multiple cultures. An active performer of both jazz and classical music, Idit has played in various distinguished venues in the United States and abroad, such as The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Lincoln Center in New York. Currently, Shner plays with her jazz quartet in Eugene and Portland, Oregon. Her latest release of jazz originals, 9 Short Stories, garnered a 4 star review in Downbeat Magazine. Her jazz debut, Tuesday’s Blues, features nursery rhymes and ancient melodies from the Jewish liturgy performed in a jazz setting. Tuesday’s Blues got great reviews from JazzTimes, All Music Guide, and Jazz Review. Jazz festival performances include the Diet Coke Woman in Jazz Festival (NY), Bellayre Festival (NY), and New-Trier Jazz Festival (IL). Idit appears on Music from SEAMUS Vol. 16, a compilation CD of music for instruments and electronic sounds by members of the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States. As a classical saxophonist Idit has commissioned and recorded new music and performed solo recitals in the US and Israel. MINERVA is her latest classical release. Her third CD, Le Merle Noir, featuring music by Messiaen, Bozza, Partos, and Glass, was released on Origin Classics in August 2013. Her previous classical recording, FISSURES: 20th Century Music for saxophone and Harp with renowned harpist Yumiko Schlaffer, received great acclaim and was played on NPR’s All Things Considered. Idit has collaborated with Fireworks, Beta Collide and Third Angle (new music ensembles), and performed with the Oregon Symphony and the Eugene Symphony. Other appearances include the Northwest Percussion Festival, Electronic Music Midwest, the Oregon Bach Festival, and many North American Saxophone Alliance Conventions. During March 2006 she played in Israel as a featured soloist with a symphonic orchestra, and performed contemporary music at the national convention of the Society for Electro Acoustic Music in the US. Her last solo recital in Israel was broadcasted live on Voice of Music, a national public radio station. During 2005-2006 Idit played lead alto with Sherrie Maricle and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra. Performing her own compositions in a jazz combo setting, she was selected to participate in Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead. Idit holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Oklahoma City University, a Masters degree in Music Education from University of Central Oklahoma, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from University of North Texas. Idit now teaches at the University of Oregon, as professor of saxophone and jazz studies. She was awarded two prestigious teaching awards: The 2015 Thomas F. Herman Award for Excellent in Pedagogy in areas of saxophone technique and chamber music coaching; and the 2016 University of Oregon Faculty Excellence Award. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Chamber Music America, please visit her website and Instagram.
September 22, 2021
2.1 20 Years of Guiding Chamber Music America: Margaret Lioi
Margaret Lioi, past Chief Executive Officer of Chamber Music America, joins us to discuss the process of developing and realizing her vision for the small ensemble community and supporting this vision through strategic grantmaking and fundraising initiatives. She chats with us about the intersections between jazz and chamber music and how small ensemble genres and styles share more than they seem. We talk about how a person finds themselves deeply involved in arts administration, and about Lioi’s vision for the small ensemble community over the next twenty years. Margaret M. Lioi has been Chamber Music America’s Chief Executive Officer since 2000, serving as the longest-tenured executive in CMA’s 43-year history. During this time, CMA incorporated jazz into its small ensemble portfolio, increased its grant-making to more than $1.4 million annually, established May as National Chamber Music Month, and ratified the organization’s Commitment to Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, solidifying its dedication to equitable practices in every area of its operations. After receiving a Masters in Piano Performance from New England Conservatory, Lioi was a collaborative pianist and vocal coach, working with regional opera companies and individual singers and instrumentalists. After 10 years as a performer, she returned to school to pursue an MBA with a concentration in arts management at Binghamton University/SUNY. She interned at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, SC, was subsequently hired as the Development Associate, and became the Director of Development six months later. Following Spoleto, Lioi was the Executive Director of The Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, and the Senior Director of External Affairs at The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival prior to CMA. She serves on the Advisory Board of The Sphinx Organization, is a member of the Board of The Performing Arts Alliance, and is an adjunct faculty member in the MA in Arts Management and Entrepreneurship Program at The New School. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Chamber Music America, please visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
September 8, 2021
2.0 What's New in Season 2?
In our pre-season episode, the Soundweavers team discusses updates to the podcast in this upcoming season, the launch of our new Patreon, and the extra content and new opportunities that come along with it. Soundweavers explores the triumphs and tribulations of the chamber music community through conversations with emerging and established performers, composers, and educators. Through dialogue, trialogue—and sometimes even tetralogue—with guest artists and ensembles, we delve into what it means to present contemporary and traditional classical, jazz, and folk music in today’s ever-shifting gig economy. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Soundweavers, please visit them at their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
September 1, 2021
1.25 Cast Chat
In the final episode of our first season, the Soundweavers team discusses some of the major themes throughout the season—relationships, adaptability, and self-reflection—and explore how these themes intersected with small ensemble performance and composition; education, community engagement, and social justice; and administrative and life skills. We explore how so many of our guests emphasized the importance of long-term relationship building, flexibility with methods and approaches, and an openness to self-evaluation led these individuals and ensembles in directions that they may have not anticipated—even changing career paths altogether, in some instances. We reflect on how small ensembles are integrating, supporting, and upholding the pillars of our communities, and how musicians are building connections, promoting access, thinking inclusively, and using privilege and resources to support underrepresented artists and communities.
August 4, 2021
1.24 Lake George Festival
Alexander Lombard, Roger Kalia, and Barbora Kolarova join us to discuss the founding of the Lake George Music Festival, the inner mechanics of running the festival, and recruiting and selecting musicians that contribute to the close knit community they have built. They share a number of strategies for engaging community members, from housing musicians with avid festival attendees to offering balanced and diverse programming that exposes every listener to music outside their comfort zone. They provide some background on the festival’s role in renovating a new performance venue in Lake George, and the role that the village plays in shaping the festival experience. Since first opening its doors in 2011, the Lake George Music Festival has brought emerging young talent and celebrated artists from 27 countries to Lake George, the “Queen of American Lakes”, situated in picturesque upstate New York. This festival is transformative not only because it attracts so many world-class performers and composers, but also because its organizers make it a priority to cultivate an invigorating spirit of cooperation and camaraderie among the musicians, local residents, and summertime visitors. As one of the nation’s foremost classical music artist retreats, the Lake George Music Festival upholds a mission to advance music, re-imagine the concert experience, and build audiences for the 21st Century through artistic integrity and innovation. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about the Lake George Festival, please visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
July 21, 2021
1.23 Miguel del Águila
.Composer Miguel del Águila joins us to discuss his interest in rhythm and drama and how his nostalgia for home informs his compositional language. He describes his use of transcription as a means of recasting aspects of the same work in a new light. We chat about the differing experiences of functioning as a freelancer and a university professor. And he shares about the continuing impact of colonialism on music—and how the constantly evolving nature of small ensembles provides opportunities to work through social justice issues that the trust-fund-and-donor-base structure of established orchestras frequently restricts. Three-time Grammy nominated American composer Miguel del Águila was born in Uruguay. In over 130 works that combine drama, driving rhythms and nostalgic nods to his South American roots, he has established himself among the most distinctive and highly regarded composers of his generation. His music, which enjoys over 200 performances yearly, has been hailed as “brilliant and witty” (New York Times), “sonically dazzling” (LATimes) and “expressive and dramatic” (American Record Guide). He is 2021 composer in residence with Danish Chamber Players/Ensemble Storstrøm, after residences with Orchestra of the Americas, New Mexico Symph, Fresh Ink, CTSummerfest, Talis, and Chautauqua. 2021 commissions include works for Cuarteto Latinoamericano, Eroica Trio and Fivebyfive. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Miguel del Águila, please visit his website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.
July 7, 2021
1.22 I Ketut Gede Asnawa
Balinese performer and composer I Ketut Gede Asnawa joins us to discuss his work with Balinese gamelan music in Indonesia and the United States. We explore the varieties of gamelan music throughout Indonesia and how gamelan music is integrated throughout Balinese culture through the 5 sacred yadnya. Pak shares with us the central role that community plays in gamelan ensembles and the work that he has done to bring that same sense of community into his classroom at the University of Illinois. And we discuss the challenges of teaching a primarily aural music tradition within the context of a Western culture that relies heavily on sheet music for performance. I Ketut Gede Asnawa is a composer, performer, and scholar from Bali, Indonesia. He has taught at the government-sponsored secondary- and tertiary-level conservatories of Balinese music since 1980. His compositions have been featured at the Festival of Young Composers in Jakarta and the annual Bali Arts Festival. His importance as a cutting-edge composer and innovator in Balinese music was recognized in Grove Music Online. An accomplished gamelan musician, Asnawa has toured Europe, the US, and Asia. A demanding but charismatic teacher, he has taught gamelan groups at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (where he earned a Master’s degree in Ethnomusicology), Université de Montréal, Eastman School of Music, University of Missouri Kansas City, Florida State University, Texas Women University, Richmond University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Gettysburg College, Miami University at Oxford, OH, as well as private gamelan groups Giri Kusuma in Woodstock, NY, Sekar Jaya, CA, Indonesian Performing Arts of Chicago, Chicago Balinese Gamelan, and the Netherlands. In 2017, he received the Dharma Kusuma Art Award and Gold Medal from the Governor of Bali in recognition of his life - long dedication and contribution to Bali’s culture of arts, most notably in Gamelan music. Since Fall 2006, he has taught various styles of Balinese gamelan as a faculty member in the School of Music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and most recently served as an artistic adviser for Chicago Balinese Gamelan. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about I Ketut Gede Asnawa, please visit his Facebook and Instagram.
June 23, 2021
1.21 Eira Lynn Jones
Harpist Eira Lynn Jones joins us to chat about her work with the Juniper Project, a flute and harp duo that performs and records not only the most virtuosic repertoire, but also the approachable repertoire that they enjoy coaching. We speak about Eira’s work as a composer of chamber music, as well as her connection to the Music in Hospitals program. Eira shares some of her background as someone who “did everything backwards”, having gone from a full-time orchestral position to a freelancer’s career. Welsh harpist EIRA LYNN JONES is a versatile musician, who has a passion for creativity and originality. Her eclectic career ranges from orchestral work, recordings and commissions to chamber music collaborations. She is known equally for her committed, dynamic playing and her innovative, dedicated teaching. While a student at the Royal Northern College of Music, Eira won numerous awards, including a Guinness Foundation Scholarship and an I.S.M. Performer Award, resulting in her BBC Radio 3 debut on the ‘Young Musicians’ series. Further studies with Kathleen Bride at the Manhattan School of Music in New York led to a Masters Degree. Invited to join the Manhattan Contemporary Music Ensemble, she premiered new works for harp, which ignited her interest in researching unusual and varied repertoire. She did indeed take her harp to the party; to Carnegie Hall, the Aspen Music Festival, Banff Centre of Performing Arts and Creativity, and even to the top of the Empire State Building! On returning to the UK she was appointed Principal Harp with Northern Ballet Theatre. She now regularly freelances with the UK's leading orchestras, including Hallé, BBC Philharmonic, Opera North, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Royal Northern Sinfonia. As soloist, she has performed Debussy Danses with Manchester Camerata and Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro with Northern Chamber Orchestra. Eira is also widely recognised as one of the UK's leading harp teachers. As Head of Harp at the RNCM she loves inspiring young musicians, receiving many invitations to run workshops worldwide, including USA, Denmark, Greece, Ireland, Sweden and Iceland. She achieved notable success with her solo album ‘... from within’, which is a mix of classical and folk pieces on both pedal harp and clarsach: "I love the album ... a diversity of music, a very accomplished technique, and your heart coming through" (Alan Stivell). From performing at the Hollywood Bowl to under the much loved “Dippy” dinosaur at the Natural History Museum; from appearing in Coronation Street to playing for HRH Prince of Wales in Spain; from recording with the heavy metal band “Venom” to accompanying Kiri te Kanawa; from directing the music of John Cage for 20 harps to leading the RNCM Young Harps Project, Eira approaches each project with passion, and is a true ambassador for this most magical of instruments. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Eira Lynn Jones, please visit her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
June 9, 2021
1.20 Cast Chat
In this cast chat, the team amplifies the conversations from the Disruption. Action. Change. series hosted by the Eastman School of Music Institute for Music Leadership and the University of Michigan EXCEL lab. We discuss the politicization of ADEI work, centering human narratives as a way of connecting human experiences, repositioning Black musics as the basis for American music in curricula and programming, investigating the role of capitalism in upholding systems of oppression, self-educating in the use of appropriate—and current—language and concepts, and using our privileges to shield and to support our colleagues who don’t benefit from the same privileges. To view the transcript go here. To learn more about the resources mentioned in the podcast, visit Disruption. Action. Change. Series webpage, Adam Neely, Music Theory and White Supremacy, Classically Black Podcast, and Equality/Equity/Liberation Cartoon.
May 26, 2021
1.19 Amatis Trio
Violinist Lea Hausmann, cellist Samuel Shepherd, and pianist Mengjie Han of the Amatis Piano Trio join us to chat about scoping out chamber partners at international competitions, navigating multiple nationalities in one small ensemble, using the internet to cultivate and sustain audiences on the way to securing concerts each season, stimulating artistic growth with dialogue between performers and composers, developing innovative cross-genre and interdisciplinary projects, and the importance of reconnecting listeners with the lost wonder of youth and the human aspect of music. The Amatis Piano Trio was founded in 2014 by German violinist Lea Hausmann, British cellist Samuel Shepherd, and Dutch/Chinese pianist Mengjie Han. The three musicians met in Amsterdam, and have performed together in 33 countries around the world. The piano trio is one of the leading ensembles of its generation, exalted worldwide for their energy, insight, communication and passion. Only weeks after their formation the trio won the Audience Prize at the Grachtenfestival-Concours hosted by the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and First Prize at the International Parkhouse Award at Wigmore Hall in London, both venues that now invite them as regular artists. The 2018-19 season saw the trio selected as ECHO Rising Stars (European Concert Hall Organisation). From 2016 to 2018, the Amatis Trio was part of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists and in 2018 they were invited to participate in the Verbier Festival Academy in Switzerland. Amatis Trio released their debut CD on cAVI Records featuring the music of Enescu, Ravel and Britten. The disc received high praise amongst critics and earned the ensemble's inclusion in the Gramophone Magazine's 'One to Watch'. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about the Amatis Trio, please visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
May 12, 2021
1.18 Akropolis Reed Quintet
Clarinetist and saxophonist Kari and Matt Landry of the Akropolis Reed Quintet join the Soundweavers team to discuss their approach to growing the repertoire for a new ensemble through arrangements and commissions—and their work publishing and sharing this music through their website. Kari and Matt share their excitement about forming collaborations that generate new perspectives, create new sounds, and stretch genres. They talk about teaching composition and premiering students' works through their engagement programs in Detroit. We chat about the challenges of elitism in the music world and the need to make space for meaningful, beautiful, and challenging music for untrained musicians. Kari and Matt describe the fundamental importance of organizational transparency and their strategies for succeeding as a small nonprofit. We wrap with a discussion about the need for self-reflection and commitment to your dreams in the pursuit of career success. Celebrating their 12th year and hailed by Fanfare Magazine for their “imagination, infallible musicality, and huge vitality,” the Akropolis Reed Quintet was founded in 2009 at the University of Michigan and has won seven national chamber music prizes including the Fischoff Gold Medal and Fischoff Educator Award. The San Francisco Chronicle dubbed Akropolis’ recent third album release, The Space Between Us, “pure gold.” A nonprofit organization supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and numerous foundations and individuals nationwide, Akropolis delivers more than 120 annual performances and workshops. Akropolis is collaborating with BodyVox Dance on a full-length music and dance production celebrating the 1920s and the fight for suffrage. In June 2021 they will premiere a new work by Annika Socolofsky in collaboration with video artist, XUAN, celebrating diversity in small businesses around America. Their 4th album, Ghost Light, will be released on April 9, 2021 on New Focus Recordings. Akropolis’ 2019-20 season featured 10 commissions including Storm Warning, the first concerto for reed quintet and wind band by Roshanne Etezady; Homage to Paradise Valley by Jeff Scott with support from the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Fund, celebrating the history of Detroit’s razed Black neighborhoods; and Sprocket, for reed quintet and rideable percussion bicycle by Steven Snowden. Akropolis has premiered more than 100 new works by students and professionals and was selected to adjudicate and premiere the 2018 Barlow Prize funded by the Barlow Endowment. Akropolis’ members are the first of any reed quintet to judge major chamber music competitions including the Fischoff Junior (2018 and 2021) and Chamber Music Yellow Springs (2019) competitions. Each June in Detroit, Akropolis presents its own 16-event festival, Together We Sound, featuring multidisciplinary collaborators, a workplace concert series, and educational outreach. Akropolis reaches more than 5,000 K-12 students annually, including a school year-long residency with students at three Detroit high schools. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about the Akropolis Quintet, please visit their website and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, and SoundCloud pages.
April 28, 2021
1.17 Kalia Vandever
Jazz trombonist and composer Kalia Vandever joins us to chat about conceptualizing her album In Bloom, funding this project through touring and crowdsourcing, identifying a recording engineer and studio, and developing her compositional voice throughout the process. We talk about her start in community education through the Herbie Hancock Institute Peer-to-Peer Program and the importance of encouraging students to connect with one another through community engagement initiatives. Kalia shares about her experience working in a historically male-dominated industry, her article “Token Girl”, and how to support women and artists of ALAANA backgrounds in professional and educational settings. And she offers strategies for developing jazz skills after being trained in a non-jazz idiom. Kalia Vandever is a trombonist, composer, and educator living in Brooklyn, NY. She released her debut album, "In Bloom" in May, 2019 which features all of her original compositions written for quartet and duo with guitar. She has toured and performed nationally with her quartet, as well as her solo project. She has performed in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Preservation Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, The Jazz Gallery, The Blue Whale, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, SMOKE Jazz Club, the Blue Note, and the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Kalia moved from Los Angeles, CA to New York City in 2013 to study at the Juilliard School where she received her Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies. She has played with the following musicians whom she admires greatly, Ingrid Jensen, Herbie Hancock, Tyshawn Sorey, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, Fabian Almazan, Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Joel Ross, Maria Grand, and others. She is also known for her work as a composer and arranger. She has been commissioned to write pieces for the Tesla Quartet, Metropolis Ensemble, Katherine Kyu Hyeon Lim, and more. The transcript for this episode can be found here. Resources discussed in this episode: Kalia Vandever, In Bloom Kalia Vandever, “Token Girl” Herbie Hancock Institute Peer-to-Peer Program Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz Academy Kalia Vandever, Tesla Quartet, “Variation: Meditation” Kalia Vandever, The Westerlies, “Calling Me Back Home” For more information about Kalia Vandever, please visit her website, Instagram, and YouTube.
April 14, 2021
1.16 Pegasus Early Music
Executive Director and lutenist Deborah Fox of Pegasus Early Music joins the Soundweavers team to discuss the nature of leading an organization that curates both the repertoire and personnel for each concert. She speaks with us about the ways in which Pegasus is promoting antiracist practices in a musical style “largely written by white, male, Christian Europeans.” We chat about Pegasus Rising, the organization’s program for promoting emerging artists in early music. We also talk about Pegasus’ association with the Eastman School of Music’s Arts Leadership Program and how the organization offers meaningful internships. And we finish with a conversation about how “even operas are chamber music…” Deborah Fox is a lutenist with a span of repertoire ranging from medieval to baroque music, as a soloist, chamber music player, and baroque opera continuo. She has performed with the major early music ensembles and festivals from Newfoundland to Australia, including the Carmel Bach Festival, Glimmerglass Opera, Les Violons du Roy (Montreal), Spoleto Festival, Opera Atelier (Toronto), Pinchgut Opera (Sydney), Concert Royal (NY), Haymarket Opera and Third Coast Baroque (Chicago), and others. She received the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Early Music at London’s Guildhall School, specializing in the improvised accompaniment practices of the baroque. Her teachers have included Paul O’Dette, Pat O’Brien, and Nigel North. She has been a Teaching Artist for the Aesthetic Education Institute. She is the founder and director of Pegasus Early Music in Rochester, NY, and the director of NYS Baroque in Ithaca and Syracuse, NY. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Pegasus Early Music, please visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. For more information about Pegasus Rising, please visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For more information about New York State Baroque, please visit them at their website, nysbaroque.com.
March 31, 2021
1.15 Cast Chat
Rosy, Blaire, and Adam chat about the origins, purposes, and impacts of the Grammy Awards on the classical music industry; the role that the Grammys play in the evolution of classical music; the process of becoming nominating, and then winning, a Grammy award; the biases embedded in a system solely reliant on professional networks for access; and grassroots solutions emerging in response to these issues. Soundweavers explores the triumphs and tribulations of the chamber music community through conversations with emerging and established performers, composers, and educators. Through dialogue, trialogue—and sometimes even tetralogue—with guest artists and ensembles, we delve into what it means to present contemporary and traditional classical, jazz, and folk music in today’s ever-shifting gig economy. Resources discussed in today’s episode: Grammys, Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance Brittanica, “The History of the Grammy” Billboard, “How do you get a Grammy?” Anand & Watson, “Tournament Rituals in the Evolution of Fields” Cunningham, “The Nammys versus the Grammys” Powers, “The Problem with the Grammys is not a Problem We Can Fix” Owens, “Do the Grammys have a Diversity Problem” Pikus, "The Canon is Racist” New York Times, “Can the Grammys be Trusted?” Strings, “Does a Grammy Win Live up to the Hype?” The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Soundweavers, please visit them at their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.
March 17, 2021
1.14 Tony Arnold
Soprano Tony Arnold joins us to chat about hopping careers from orchestral conductor to international superstar vocalist, her varied interests in how sound is made and how to harness sound to make it into something else, and the way her interests have helped in collaborations with all sorts of instrumentalists and in teaching composers how to help performers lift music off the page . We speak about how she developed the working knowledge necessary to decipher contemporary scores, the close connection between chamber music and contemporary music, and learning how to fit into the deeply intimate and idiomatic language of a string quartet with a long history that no longer required verbal communication. She shares about how her connection to George Crumb deepened on a trip to Charleston, WV and how community- and network-building play in forming long-lasting professional connections. We discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the impact of digitization on the shaping of the musical world and the importance of separating music-making from money-making as best as one can. Celebrated as a “luminary in the world of chamber music and art song” (Huffington Post), Tony Arnold is internationally acclaimed as a leading proponent of contemporary music in concert and recording, a “convincing, mesmerizing soprano” (Los Angeles Times) who “has a broader gift for conveying the poetry and nuance behind outwardly daunting contemporary scores” (Boston Globe). Her unique blend of vocal virtuosity and communicative warmth, combined with wide-ranging skills in education and leadership were recognized with the 2015 Brandeis Creative Arts Award, given in appreciation of “excellence in the arts and the lives and works of distinguished, active American artists.” Ms. Arnold’s extensive chamber music repertory includes major works written for her voice by Georges Aperghis, George Crumb, Brett Dean, Jason Eckardt, Gabriela Lena Frank, Josh Levine, George Lewis, Philippe Manoury, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Christopher Theofanidis, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, and numerous others. She is a member of the intrepid International Contemporary Ensemble, and enjoys regular guest appearances with leading ensembles, presenters and festivals worldwide. With more than thirty discs to her credit, Ms. Arnold has recorded a broad segment of the modern vocal repertory with esteemed chamber music colleagues. Her recording of George Crumb’s iconic Ancient Voices of Children (Bridge) received a 2006 Grammy nomination. She is a first-prize laureate of both the Gaudeamus International and the Louise D. McMahon competitions. A graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University, Ms. Arnold was twice a fellow of the Aspen Music Festival as both a conductor and singer. She was the 2015-16 Kunkemueller Artist-In-Residence at the Boston Conservatory, and currently serves on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory and the Tanglewood Music Center. The transcript for this episode can be found here. Resources discussed in this episode: Tony Arnold sings George Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children For more information about Tony Arnold, please visit her website, www.screecher.com.
March 3, 2021
1.13 Fifth House Ensemble
Melissa Ngan and Herine Coetzee Koschak of Fifth House Ensemble join us to discuss their roots in the community engagement initiatives spearheaded by the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and their origins on a 36-hour road trip. They share their philosophy on the importance of relationships as the basis for developing ensemble membership and an avid listener base. We discuss the studio, social, and civic practice continuum, and how they design arts integration initiatives in collaboration with teachers and students in a way that perpetuates arts education beyond the initial residency. We chat about the Fresh Inc Festival for emerging artists and about Melissa’s video game evolution from Duck Hunt to Journey. Praised by the New York Times for its “conviction, authority, and finesse,” the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble harnesses the collaborative spirit of chamber music to reach beyond the traditionally-perceived limits of classical music. The ensemble’s artistic, educational, and civic programs engage theater groups, video game designers, corporate innovators, and folk bands to share stories as diverse as the communities it serves. Through the ensemble’s heartfelt social and civic practice work, Fifth House has co-created artistic projects with urban neighborhoods, social service organizations, and an agricultural community to spark conversations on issues that matter. Recent projects include Broken Text, a collaboration with Raven Theatre and DJ Searchl1te inspired by multi-week residencies at the Cook County Temporary Youth Detention Center and St. Leonard’s Ministries; Voices from the Dust Bowl, a collaboration with composer Steven Snowden and bluegrass band Henhouse Prowlers exploring stories from workers’ rights organizations nationwide; Nedudim, an exploration of music and cultural identity in collaboration with Baladino that engages Chicago-based organizations representing Israel, Iran, Germany and Spain, and Harvest, a year-long partnership with DePauw University and the Greencastle, IN community culminating in a Mother’s Day celebration of the people, places, and stories of Putnam County. In 2012, Fifth House launched Fresh Inc, a two-week, intensive training program for emerging composers and performers where Fifth House works with participants on building careers in music in line with their own unique vision and values. Fifth House is currently an Ensemble in Residence at the Music Institute of Chicago. The transcript for this episode can be found here. Resources discussed in this episode: Fresh Inc Festival For more information about Third Coast Percussion, please visit them at website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
February 17, 2021
1.12 Third Coast Percussion
Sean Connors and Peter Martin from Third Coast Percussion join Soundweavers to discuss the stages of entering, campaigning for, and winning a Grammy; their approach to successfully and consistently recording albums; coordinating the complex logistics necessary for fitting a percussion ensemble into the NPR Tiny Desk studio; building educational programs with community partners to perpetuate long-term musical engagement; strategies for improving diversity in programming; and how they use mobile apps to create new angles for interacting with albums. Third Coast Percussion is a Grammy Award-winning Chicago-based percussion quartet. For fifteen years, the ensemble has created exciting and unexpected performances that constantly redefine the classical music experience. The ensemble has been praised for “commandingly elegant” (New York Times) performances, the “rare power” (Washington Post) of their recordings, and “an inspirational sense of fun and curiosity” (Minnesota Star-Tribune). Third Coast Percussion maintains a busy tour schedule, with past performances in 35 of the 50 states and Washington, DC, plus international tour dates in Canada, Colombia, Hong Kong, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. A direct connection with the audience is at the core of all of Third Coast Percussion’s work, whether the musicians are speaking from the stage about a new piece of music, inviting the audience to play along in a concert or educational performance, or inviting their fans around the world to create new music using one of their free mobile apps. The four members of Third Coast are also accomplished teachers, and make active participation by all students the cornerstone of all their educational offerings. The quartet’s curiosity and eclectic taste have led to a series of unlikely collaborations that have produced exciting new art. The ensemble has worked with engineers at the University of Notre Dame, architects at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, dancers at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and musicians from traditions ranging from the mbira music of Zimbabwe’s Shona people, to indie rockers and footwork producers, to some of the world’s leading concert musicians. Third Coast Percussion served as ensemble-in-residence at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center from 2013—2018, and currently serves as ensemble-in-residence at Denison University. The transcript for this episode can be found here. Resources discussed in this episode: The GRAMMYs Third Coast Percussion’s Tiny Desk Concert for NPR For more information about Third Coast Percussion, please visit them at website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and SoundCloud.
February 3, 2021
1.11 Pascal Le Bœuf
Pianist-composer Pascal le Boeuf joins the Soundweavers team to discuss how he uses composition to prioritize human connections through music and resonating with others by identifying their musical values. He chats with us about living between the realms of new music and jazz (and what does jazz really mean?) and the process of pursuing a Grammy award. We speak about embracing social engagement and using music to communicate that which needs to be conveyed, the power of empathy and communication for successful professional relationships, and the brain candy known as polyrhythms. Described as "sleek, new" and "hyper-fluent" by the New York Times, Pascal Le Boeuf is a Grammy nominated composer, pianist, and producer whose works range from modern improvised music to cross-breeding classical with production-based technology. He is widely recognized for his polyrhythmic approach to chamber music and hybridization of disparate idioms. Pascal’s latest project imaginist is a full-length album collaboration between the JACK Quartet and the Le Boeuf Brothers Quintet (co-led by Remy Le Boeuf). The 9-piece hybridized chamber ensemble was praised by the New Yorker for "clearing their own path, mixing the solid swing of the jazz tradition with hip-hop, indie rock, and the complex techniques of classical modernism". Recent projects include “Media Control” recorded by Hub New Music, “Imp in Impulse” recorded by Barbora Kolářová, “Into the Anthropocene” featuring violist Jessica Meyer and cellist Dave Eggar, “Alpha” recorded by cellist Nick Photinos (Eighth Blackbird) on New Amsterdam Records, “Transition Behavior” recorded by the Shattered Glass String Orchestra, and “Empty Promise” an award-winning short film in collaboration with Four/Ten Media, Goldfeather and Robby Bowen. The transcript for this episode can be found here. Resources discussed in this episode: Barbora Kolářová performs Imp & Impulse Imaginist | New Focus Recordings For more information about Pascal le Boeuf, please visit him at his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and iTunes. Be sure to check out Soundweavers at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
January 20, 2021
1.10 Cast Chat
Rosy, Blaire, and Adam discuss the #MeToo movement’s impact on the music industry, community music schools, and higher education, and the practices and resources institutions are implementing to address power disparities that jeopardize safe environments. The cast then chats about the burgeoning use of technology in higher education, from the rapidly changing landscape of recording technologies to the methods in which students and faculty members prepare and present performance in the studio and the concert space—and the affordability and accessibility of all these “new” tools. The cast also considers the evolving approaches to coaching ensemble musicianship online and the shifting expectations and outcomes of these new methods. Soundweavers explores the triumphs and tribulations of the chamber music community through conversations with emerging and established performers, composers, and educators. Through dialogue, trialogue—and sometimes even tetralogue—with guest artists and ensembles, we delve into what it means to present contemporary and traditional classical, jazz, and folk music in today’s ever-shifting gig economy. Resources discussed in this episode: The BIT Collective Stephen Humphries, “Is The Music Industry Finally Facing Its #MeToo Moment?”, The Christian Science Monitor Shannon Lee, “When Will The Music Industry Have Its #MeToo Moment?”, Forbes Zoë Madonna, “Classical Music Saw a #MeToo Backlash in 2019”, The Boston Globe Helen Pidd, “Chetham’s Music Teacher Jailed for Sexually Abusing Pupil”, The Guardian Kalia Vandever, “Token Girl”, Medium “Teaching Music in the Age of COVID-19”, College Music Society International Coalition of Performing Arts: Aerosol Study The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Soundweavers, please visit them at their website, Facebook, and YouTube.
January 6, 2021
1.9 The Society for Chamber Music in Rochester
Co-Artistic Directors Juliana Athayde and Erik Behr of the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester join us to discuss strategies for effective programming, making space for young composers, building a large roster of performers, integrating jazz improvisation and classical repertoire through baroque and blues concerts, developing institutional practices to ensure a legacy, working effectively with board members, the art of balancing family with orchestra and teaching and administrative work, and streamlining priorities in a post-COVID world. The Society for Chamber Music in Rochester (SCMR) presents Chamber Music concerts featuring musicians of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Eastman School of Music as well as selected local and visiting artists. We perform great works of chamber music of all periods and styles. Our outreach mission reaches and teaches students of all ages and inspires chamber music’s ongoing creation through composition competitions and commissions. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about the Society for Chamber Music in Rochester, please visit them at their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
December 30, 2020
1.8 Castle of Our Skins
Ashleigh Gordon, the Artistic and Executive Director of Castle of our Skins, joins us to chat about her work leading a collective dedicated to celebrating black artistry through music. We discuss how she and co-founder Anthony Green developed COOS from individual grad school projects to a multifaceted concert presenter and educational organization. We speak about several of their initiatives, such as their Shirley Graham DuBois Creative-in-Residence Program, Beauty in Black Artistry blog, and edutainment recital and workshop series. We finish with advice on how to use one’s platform to provoke conversations on becoming ever better. Described as a “charismatic and captivating performer,” Ashleigh Gordon has recorded with Switzerland's Ensemble Proton and Germany's Ensemble Modern; performed with Grammy-award winning BMOP and Grammy-nominated A Far Cry string ensemble; and appeared at the prestigious BBC Proms Festival with the Chineke! Orchestra. Ashleigh has performed in the Royal Albert and Royal Festival Halls (London), Konzerthaus Berlin and Oper Frankfurt (Germany), Gare du Nord and Dampfzentrale Bern (Switzerland), Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Lee Hysan Concert Hall (Hong Kong), and the 180 Degrees Festival (Bulgaria). Ashleigh is co-founder, Artistic/Executive Director, and violist of Castle of our Skins, a Boston-based concert and educational series devoted to celebrating Black Artistry through music. She is a 2015 St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award and 2016 Charles Walton Diversity Advocate Award recipient, a 2019 Brother Thomas Fellow, a nominee for the 2020 "Americans for the Arts Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities,” and one of WBUR’s “ARTery 25”, twenty-five millennials of color impacting Boston’s arts and culture scene. As an advocate of social change through education, Ashleigh served as viola instructor in the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra's Intensive Community Program, a rigorous string instrumental program that provides instruction to populations often underrepresented in classical music. She has presented lectures on citizen artistry and entrepreneurship, workshops for fellow educators on Caribbean folk songs, and served as a guest panelist at the Sphinx Connect Conference and Chamber Music America Conference discussing diversity in classical music. She is an Instructor of Teaching Artistry at the Longy School of Music at Bard College. Resources discussed in today’s episode: Shirley DuBois Creative-in-Residence Program Castle of our Skins Beauty-in-Black-Artistry Blog The transcript for this episode can be found at here. For more information about Castle of our Skins, please visit them at their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
December 16, 2020
1.7 Amy Williams
Composer Amy Williams joins us to discuss her youth surrounded by amazing composers and performers in her living room and her early professional years embarking on crazy projects like transcribing Conlon Nancarrow’s music for piano four-hands with her duo partner Helena Bugallo. She speaks with us about collaborating closely with and tailoring commissions to specific performers and ensembles. We also chat about her role as Artistic Director of New Music on the Point, where she connects superstar performers and composers with young emerging artists, fostering collaborations lasting many years. The compositions of Amy Williams have been presented at renowned contemporary music venues in the United States, Australia, Asia and Europe, including Thailand International Composition Festival, Ars Musica (Belgium), Gaudeamus Music Week (Netherlands), Dresden New Music Days (Germany), Musikhøst (Denmark), Festival Aspekte (Austria), Festival Musica Nova (Brazil), Roulette and Bargemusic (New York), LA County Museum of Art, Piano Spheres (Los Angeles) and Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music. Her works have been performed by leading contemporary music soloists and ensembles, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, JACK Quartet, Ensemble Aleph, Dal Niente, Wet Ink, Talujon, Empyrean Ensemble, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, California E.A.R. Unit, Dinosaur Annex, International Contemporary Ensemble, h2 Saxophone Quartet, Bent Frequency, pianists Ursula Oppens, Corey Hamm and Amy Briggs, and bassist Robert Black. Her pieces appear on the Albany, Parma, VDM (Italy), Blue Griffin, Centaur and New Ariel labels. As a member of the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo, Ms. Williams has performed at important new music festivals and series throughout Europe and the Americas. The Duo has recorded four critically-acclaimed CDs for Wergo (works of Nancarrow, Stravinsky, Varèse/Feldman and Kurtág), as well as appearing on the Neos and Albany labels. Ms. Williams was the recipient of a Howard Foundation Fellowship for 2008-2009, a Fromm Music Foundation Commission in 2009 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2015-2016. Ms. Williams has taught at Bennington College and Northwestern University and is currently Associate Professor of Composition at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the Artistic Director of the New Music on the Point Festival in Vermont. Resources discussed in today’s episode: George Lewis, A Power Stronger than Itself The musical excerpts heard in today’s episode were composed by Conlon Nancarrow and Amy Williams and performed by the Bugallo-Williams Duo and the JACK Quartet. The transcript for today’s episode can be found here. For more information about Amy Williams, please visit her at her website.
December 2, 2020
1.6 Twelfth Day
The genre-bending violin and harp duo Twelfth Day joins us to discuss their work weaving the Scottish folk and Western classical traditions, songwriting, infusing their music with other stylistic influences, their collaborations with artists Québec to Brazil to Malawi to Mongolia, the album and EP recording process, their Routes to Roots project, writing business plans and grants, and writing music that makes you think. Why limit yourself to a label? That’s the mantra of Twelfth Day, the duo that has been challenging its broad spectrum of listeners with its genre-bending music for almost a decade. Though Twelfth Day wear their rich and varied experience with pride – their folk roots, their classical training – they are more than a simple product, an exponent of their practice. It is their inherent curiosity, their need to understand through experimentation, that compels them to reach for new ways and means. It results in music that combines their technical proficiency and deep knowledge of their instruments with their desire to make soulful, meaningful and intuitive music, that you would expect from musicians who have grown up learning music by ear; passing, trading and improvising with musicians from other genres, other cultures. Resources discussed in today’s episode: Twelfth Day’s Podcast: Figuring Out How to Be at Home Twelfth Day’s Album: Cracks in the Room Twelfth Day’s Patreon The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Twelfth Day, please visit them at their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Spotify, and iTunes.
November 18, 2020
1.5 Cast Chat
Rosy, Blaire, and Adam discuss the immediate and lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements. The cast chats about how musicians are grappling with the sudden move to remote interactions, prompting the rapid embrace of livestream concerts, recording activities, online teaching and coaching, and social media projects. They also consider the many ways in which the music world must address racial inequality, investigating how artists can strive toward a more inclusive world through programming, commissioning, and improving access to educational opportunities. The team finishes the podcast with a discussion about the ongoing #MeToo movement and its impact on the music world more broadly. Soundweavers explores the triumphs and tribulations of the chamber music community through conversations with emerging and established performers, composers, and educators. Through dialogue, trialogue—and sometimes even tetralogue—with guest artists and ensembles, we delve into what it means to present contemporary and traditional classical, jazz, and folk music in today’s ever-shifting gig economy. Resources discussed in today’s episode: Chamber Music Connection June in Buffalo George Lewis, “A Small Act of Curation”, on-curating.org loadbang, “George Lewis”, loadbang’s Power Chats, 29 June 2020 Sara Ahmed, On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2012). Community MusicWorks Castle of our Skins fivebyfive Anthony Tommasini, “To Make Orchestras More Diverse, End Blind Auditions,” New York Times, 16 July 2020. The BIT Collective Anastasia Tsioulcas, “Top Music School Finds Sexual Abuse Allegations from Violinist ‘Credible’” from National Public Radio on 23 September 2020. The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Soundweavers, please visit them at their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
November 4, 2020
1.4 JACK Quartet
John Pickford Richards of the JACK Quartet joins us to discuss the evolution of the ensemble from a fledgling student group to an international powerhouse for contemporary music; navigating personnel changes; strategies for working with both new and familiar collaborators; recording over forty-one albums; managing JACK Studio for commissions, workshops, and recording projects; and approaches toward improving inclusivity with careful programming and personnel. Hailed by The New York Times as “our leading new-music foursome”, the JACK Quartet is one of the most acclaimed, renowned, and respected groups performing today. JACK has maintained an unwavering commitment to their mission of performing and commissioning new works, giving voice to underheard composers, and cultivating an ever-greater sense of openness toward contemporary classical music. Over the past season, they have been selected as Musical America’s 2018 “Ensemble of the Year”, named to WQXR’s “19 for 19 Artists to Watch”, and awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Resources discussed in today’s episode: - JACK Studio The transcript for this episode can be found at here. For more information about the JACK Quartet, please visit them at their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, and Vimeo.
October 21, 2020
1.3 Michael Frazier
Composer Michael Frazier joins us to discuss his compositional philosophy and methods, whether the ensemble or the idea comes first, the conflict between using specific techniques versus writing what you hear, Takemitsu’s concept of ma, repurposing different types of music, and the need to explore the many musical styles beyond traditionally European classical music. Michael also talks with us about making electronic music accessible to new audiences and incorporating novel sounds, styles, and approaches in performance. Michael Frazier is a composer of acoustic, electronic, and electroacoustic music currently residing in Rochester, New York. Frazier’s works are an amalgamation of a variety of sound worlds and aesthetic backgrounds where slowness, patience, and a focus on harmony guides his compositional approach. He received a Bachelor of Music in Composition from the University of South Florida and Master of Arts in Composition at the Eastman School of Music, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Composition. Resources discussed in today’s episode: Michael Frazier, Melic Silhouettes (Trio Alexander) The transcript for this episode can be found here. For more information about Michael Frazier, please visit him on Soundcloud.
October 7, 2020
Anni Hochhalter and Julian Hernandez of WindSync join us to discuss their work connecting with listeners by exploring various modes of performance beyond the traditional sit-down-and-play model learned in school. We talk about the ways in which they engage new audiences through outreach initiatives and chamber music festivals. Anni and Julian also chat about how they manage touring and scheduling while also balancing freelance careers, and the path that led them to where they are today. WindSync has established itself as a vibrant chamber ensemble performing wind quintet masterworks, adapting beloved music to their instrumentation, and championing new works by today’s composers. The quintet eliminates the "fourth wall" between musicians and audience by often performing from memory, creating an intimate connection. This personal performance style, combined with the ensemble’s three-pronged mission of artistry, education, and community-building, lends WindSync its reputation as ”a group of virtuosos who are also wonderful people, too" (Alison Young, Classical MPR). Resources discussed in today’s episode: - Erberk Eryilmaz, Raki Havasi for Woodwind Quintet and Davul You can find the transcript for this episode here. For more information about WindSync, please visit them at their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
September 23, 2020
Andy Kozar and Jeff Gavett of loadbang join Soundweavers to discuss their role in cultivating a new sonic landscape. We explore loadbang’s promotion of their eclectic instrumentation through commissions from a diverse array of emerging and established composers, their call for score competition, partnerships with a wide range of presenters and other ensembles, and their YouTube Power Chats. We also chat about Andy’s and Jeff’s approach to balancing two ensembles with other freelancing and teaching, the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on their work, and the musical styles bleep bloop, squeaky gate, fire in a pet shop, and space whale noises. New York City-based new music chamber group loadbang is building a new kind of music for mixed ensemble of trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet, and baritone voice. Since their founding in 2008, they have been praised as ‘cultivated’ by The New Yorker, ‘an extra-cool new music group’ and ‘exhilarating’ by the Baltimore Sun, ‘inventive’ by the New York Times and called a 'formidable new-music force' by TimeOutNY. Creating 'a sonic world unlike any other' (The Boston Musical Intelligencer), their unique lung-powered instrumentation has provoked diverse responses from composers, resulting in a repertoire comprising an inclusive picture of composition today. Resources discussed in this episode: loadbang’s Power Chats, Longy Divergent Studio You can find the transcript for this episode here. For more information about loadbang, please visit them at their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
September 9, 2020
1.0 What is Soundweavers?
Founders Adam Cordle, Blaire Koerner, and Rosanna Moore discuss the launch of Soundweavers, a podcast exploring the triumphs and tribulations of the chamber music community through conversations with emerging and established performers, composers, and educators. This episode previews the structure of each episode and introduces the team.
August 22, 2020