Office Christmas Party

4 January 2019 in Writing

I scan the crowded room for a piece of wood or foam noodle, anything to make a life raft and stay afloat amidst the din. I hear the Christmas music and appreciate it as if it is wallpaper, the farthest layer of sound in the small space, collaged over by pieces and fragments of voices and sound effects. Drinks line the bar, gorgeous jewels in glasses, before—clink, clank—they’re whisked away, smashed one to another, their saturated crystal mouths forced to kiss while the humans laugh. The smells of limes and lemons hover, observing everything like dust. Everyone talks at once, two over three, two over five, a trio in the west, the stars in the east. I hear bits of
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2019 and Starting Over Again

1 January 2019 in Writing

There seems to be some itch to be writing again, and I’ve decided to post first drafts and rough musings if for no other reason than no writer ever does that. And so, begin.

The Magic of Song: Pamela Z’s SPAN

13 May 2015 in Music

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, Writing

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.

Ghosts at the Redcat

3 November 2014 in Music

The Redcat stage looked like a jungle: gongs hung from stands, electronic cables snaked between the legs of snare drums, and groups of instruments claimed distinct territories amidst the mess. Eight tablas waited on a makeshift altar at center stage, perhaps soon to be sacrificed. Percussionist William Winant entered the fray fearlessly, while David Rosenboom, composer and electronics virtuoso, presided over the performance from his computer downstage right. Zones of Influence is one of David Rosenboom’s most complex compositions, written for percussion instruments and electronics in 1984 and 1985. He had Winant in mind for the percussion part from the beginning. Rosenboom’s concept for the interactive nature of the electronics was so far ahead of its time that it took
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On Xenakis

20 October 2014 in Heather, Music

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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