The Magic of Song: Pamela Z’s SPAN

13 May 2015 in Heather

Any classically trained singer worth their salt will have a copy of Twenty-Four Italian Songs and Arias on their bookshelf. The collection of songs by 17th- and 18th-century composers is a primer of bel canto style, with each song presenting a new technical challenge for the singer to master. The pieces rise above mere vocal technique; they’re also love songs. Each one requires the singer to deliver an emotional punch, and those punches are inevitably about love—first love, lost love, spiritual love, star-crossed love. The songs teach a singer to marry technique and emotion. They teach a singer to perform. Pamela Z’s new work for voice, electronics, and chamber ensemble is similar in that it uses a single topic to
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Literary Audio

29 December 2014 in Heather

In 2014, I tried my hand at audio journalism, editing several pieces on music and new media. Highlights included one-on-one interviews with impresarios, composers, and music directors: — A profile with Chris Rountree, artistic director of wildUp — Behind the scenes at REDCAT, including a post-performance interview with David Rosenboom — Looking back on Invisible Cities with Yuval Sharon, artistic director of The Industry — Contemplating astronomy, data visualization, and music composition at Pasadena’s AxS Festival These pieces reflect my passion for investigating the praxes of media arts on the West Coast.

On Xenakis

20 October 2014 in Heather

I remember how I held my breath as my dad pounded each nail halfway into the square piece of wood we’d covered in black felt. I watched as two nails became three, then five, then eight, until the last completed a perfect circle. Dad handed me the board and I returned to my desk to consult my math book, which described how to wind string from nail to nail at measured intervals around the circle. The lines of string began to create a web around the perimeter of an inchoate circle, this one hovering magically in the center of the board over the black felt. I repeated the process twice more, using different colors of string to mark intervals of
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Art Is

2 October 2014 in Heather, Theater

You could park a big ol’ Cadillac inside Grandma’s walk-in pantry. To a child, the great windowless room stocked with jams and sauces and pickles and puddings was nothing less than a theater. The rows of metal shelving parsed the space into my very own backstage, wings, proscenium, and house. And on a shelf at the back, below the neatly indexed cake mixes, rested a simple cardboard box— the costume box. The pantry became an escape from chores—from pulling weeds, picking green beans, and hanging laundry on the line. Grandma, perhaps knowing the futility of wringing work out of a girl on Christmas or spring break, would allow me to spend hours playing dress-up. I made tiaras out of tinfoil
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Aesthetic Inclinations

19 February 2014 in Heather

In the spirit of Wallace Stevens, I have thirteen ways of looking at beautiful. 1. Complexity is most intriguing when it juxtaposes the simple. 2. I prefer solving mysteries to being lectured by the head detective. 3. I prefer a child’s intuitive wisdom to the academic’s schooled analysis. 4. I prefer the kaleidoscope to the periscope. 5. I prefer abstraction (in art, music, dance, or theatre) that jests and riddles and plays. 6. I leave emotion at the door: form, color, texture, and dynamic are each enough. 7. I often prefer the Components to the composite Greater Meaning. 8. I prefer a cross-pollination of genres to absolutes. 9. I prefer prose that is poetic. 10. I prefer a suggestion of
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Brahms Ballade, Op. 10 No. 4

8 June 2013 in Heather, Music

The middle section of this piano piece conjures a moment from one of my past lives. An early morning. Mist thick as cobwebs. I’ve wandered from the small stone house to the water’s edge, and in spite of the blindfold of vapor, I see it. A lake monster, moving as an alto voice in a murk of harmonies. It swims and sings against the current, toward me. The A section returns, resting an invitation on my shoulder, and I go back to it, leaving an outline of myself at the water’s edge, watched and watching. A long time ago.