[one] and the Backstage Door

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Contempo Flux contemporary chamber music class’s final concert of the term out at UCLA. It was a diverse program full of interesting pieces — many of which were new to me — and the level of playing was, on the whole, phenomenal, but there was one piece in particular that stuck in my mind: Anna Thorvaldsdóttir’s [one] [YouTube] for piano and percussion inside said piano.

It’s not the sort of piece I would normally be drawn to. Misty and atmospheric, it unfolds slowly and freely, with little sense of melody or rhythmic pulse. If I’d only been listening to a recording of it, I honestly would’ve been kind of bored — it’s just not my jam. But watching it happen in person was a deeply engrossing experience, and one that I’d very much like to have again. In thinking about why, I realized that it was because [one] is very close to being a theatre piece.

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Music Monday: Thorvaldsdóttir: Aeriality

There are certain strands of contemporary music making that I don't spend a lot of time swimming in. Compositions built around shifting fields of textures is one — I am a melodist at heart, and such pieces often pass right over my head, leaving me mostly unmoved. Every now and again, tho, one comes along that is so skillfully, deftly done that it breaks thru, and in those moments I feel like I really get what this style of music is all about.

One such piece is Aeriality by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir.

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