Making music in isolation
Like a lot of you, I've been trying to keep myself busy with creative collaborative projects, to fend of depression, boredom, etc. during this lockdown [on its 104th day in Chennai].
Although it is challenging to "collaborate" with someone form a distance, making and remaking these connections is really sustaining. To be able to carry on creating in the face of all of this, and keep alive a belief that I will find whatever it is that I'm looking for if I just keep writing, has been pretty important to me.
Being in isolation here in Chennai is nothing new, really. I have always been in a kind of isolation - from the majority of the Western music composition and performance world. We barely ever get things like symphony orchestras, string quartets, or "new music ensembles" coming through Chennai. As weird as it is to say this, KMMC is an important center of contemporary Western-ish music in India. There aren't other places that I know of that are pursuing this work on a regular basis, here. This is exciting, but it's also lonely.
I've used this time to write 2 solo violin pieces: Devil's Bargain [a video is on the way from the lovely violinist Karen Bentley Pollick], and Vinayak Variations [which I hope I can convince someone to actually play, lol].
In June, I completed the first draft of a series of short percussion + electronics pieces for Jane Boxall [how to [almost] start a revoution]. Jane has premiered them in daily video releases on YouTube, from a home in upstate New York she was staying in. Several of the movements need some revision to better improve the flow, and sense of cohesion, etc. A full video release is in the works for later this summer [Date TBA].
I've started a series of songs based on my friend Austin Gillison's lyrics, provisionally called Painted Over. Austin is a fantastic and daring queer artist whose work I've long admired. These pieces are turning out to be quite difficult though, and finding performers will be tough here.
Rahul Vanamali - a former student at KMMC - has put a version of the canon "The Closed Circle" up on his YouTube channel. I wrote the piece for the student new music ensemble at KM to play together.
I've written a bunch of violin etudes, which all need a second or third draft to be ready for release. Writing is a slow process that requires a lot of revision, sometimes after a break. I'm reminded of interviews by several visual artists who talk about paintings that live in their studios for a year - things they revisit, and only eventually "finish."
I eventually want to finish the 3rd movement of a larger set of pieces for Pierrot Ensemble called All the Borrowed Future Before Us. It was my dissertation composition at Illinois, originally written with the Ensemble Paramirabo in mind [a JUNO-nominated new music ensemble based in Montreal]. They've played / recorded the first movement Crooked Blue - which you can find in the works section of my website.