Magazine article Strings

Violinist Explores a Stellar Contemporary Composition

Magazine article Strings

Violinist Explores a Stellar Contemporary Composition

Article excerpt

Annie Gosfield's 'Lost Signals and Drifting Satellites' is out of this world

IT'S AN EXCITING TIME for any string player with an adventurous spirit for exploring different sound worlds and performing new works, including a wealth of electroacoustic compositions written by such outstanding living composers as Annie Gosfield.

Her "Lost Signals and Drifting Satellites" for violin and electronics is a composition that merges the lyricism and virtuosity of the violin with prerecorded sounds of the Voyager and Sputnik satellites, brilliantly structured to accompany the violin. The work begins with the sounds of radio transmissions from the pioneering space satellites. The violin enters with harmonics in an echoing response. Throughout the opening, there are wonderful uses of harmonics intertwined with brief melodic motifs, which leads to a rhapsodic middle section reminiscent of Bartòk passages, played against heavy dance-like rhythms produced by the satellite sounds.

I frequently program "Lost Signals and Drifting Satellites" in concert and recorded it for my debut album, Violectrica, which is composed of works for solo violin and electronics by Gosfield, Randall Woolf, Alexandra Gardener, Padma Newsome, and Susie Ibarra, as well as myself - improvisations I created live alongside the laptop artist Ikue Mori.

The Gosfield composition is really innovative, and can be played in any concert setting that has a sound system, whether a big concert hall, a black-box theater, or club venue. It provides sonic variety to any type of program, either solo or chamber.

I find electroacoustic violin music gratifying to interpret because it reflects the things happening in our culture and because there is a certain amount of freedom in performance that comes from being able to work closely on a piece with the composer.

However, there are technical challenges to performing with prerecorded sounds. The first one is tempo. …

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