SIFA 2018 artist Nico Muhly has stitched together a hypnotic- ear-worm loaded listening journey based on works that explore travel and observation, both of which are sorely missing in our lives today. With pieces from Steve Reich to Benjamin Britten, Sam Armidon to Teitur, it is a smorgasbord of rhythms, textures and gorgeous sounds.
Nico Muhly's Listening Notes
"The loose theme here is travel and observation, because those are things we aren’t allowed to do right now.
There are two semi-narrative American works about travel: Steve Reich’s Different Trains, which, in this movement, traces his childhood journey across the country traveling between his divorced parents, and Meredith Monk’s Atlas, a very very abstracted meditation on the life of Alexandra David-Néel and her unprecedented journey, in the 20s, to Tibet.
There are two pieces of Colin McPhee, a Canadian ethnomusicologist who travelled to Bali in the 1930’s and made transcriptions of Balinese music, which in turn provided material for his own compositions in the 1940s and beyond. The American singers Sam Amidon and Henry Jamison sing beguiling journeying songs.
We also hear of some more intense travels: Steve Reich’s rhythmic version of Hagar and Ishmael sent away from Sarah and Isaac in the book of Genesis, and the singer/songwriter Teitur dreaming of boats sailing away from his native Faroe Islands.
Benjamin Britten makes two appearances here: first, in the delicious, meditative aria Now the Great Bear and the Pleiades from Peter Grimes, in which our anti-hero looks towards the stars and is aware of his own solitude.
We end with another piece of observation of nature: the simple, repetitive Cuckoo, from his Songs from Friday Afternoons."
About the series:
SIFA Playlist with… is a series of curated playlist prepared by SIFA artists responding to specific themes or various inspirations. Indulge in these myriad sounds, and discover new composers and works.