Anna Clyne, Mead co-composer-in-residence for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 2010 to 2015, will have a return engagement of sorts when the CSO performs her Masquerade in concerts Nov. 27-29.
On the Symphony Center podium will be Marin Alsop, who led the work in its world premiere during the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms in 2013.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra recently performed Masquerade, and ahead of that event, Clyne spoke with that orchestra’s online magazine, BSO Stories, about the work and her collaborations with Alsop:
“In terms of expectations of a piece, Masquerade was the biggest challenge for me. The Proms were always something I had seen from afar through the television, and it’s such a national event. Usually when you are commissioned for a piece, they tell you what the instrumentation is and the duration — and that’s it. This was the first time I’d ever had a contract that said, ‘The music is to be exuberant.’
“I wanted to write something celebratory and upbeat, so the main melody of the piece is ‘Juice of Barley,’ which is an old English drinking song. It’s kind of raucous, and then I wrote another melody where I imagined these people singing, ‘welcome to our masquerade.’ It was kind of a simple idea, but I wanted something celebratory with this trumpet fanfare and a lot of energy from the strings.
“I’ve been really fortunate because I feel like Marin was the first conductor to really take me under her wing. She’s conducted all of my orchestral pieces so far with different orchestras. I feel like she really trusts me. She programmed my violin concerto [The Seamstress, performed by the CSO in its world premiere last season] before she even heard it. As a composer, it’s rare to find a conductor who really genuinely cares about every detail. The past couple of pieces I wrote, I imagined her conducting them when I’m writing it. And that really helps. It’s the same way if you write a concerto you want to imagine that soloist and the physicality of that.
“A good example of that is my piece The Seamstress for violin and orchestra, which she did in Brazil a couple of months ago. I have this 5/8 section that’s pretty fast, and I could just imagine her conducting that and [getting that groove]. Some people don’t realize just how important that composer-conductor relationship is because there has to be a real sense of trust there in each other.”
To read the complete interview, click here.
TOP: Anna Clyne (center, with soloist Jennifer Koh) takes a bow after the world-premiere performance of her violin concerto The Seamstress. | Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015