This month’s featured composer is one who has written particularly striking and beautiful music for the oboe. It was in 2007 that I heard Ellen’s piece Zosa performed by Laura Karney in Germany. I was immediately struck by how very well she had made use of multiphonics and techniques such as having the oboe play into the piano. Ellen really understood the instrument very well and has composed works that are very strong additions to the repertoire.
Below, Ellen has written introductions to her works for oboe and included audio and score samples as well.
Zosa (Oboe and Piano)
“Zosa” is one of many Sanskrit words meaning “breath.” Zosa explores breath through music, embracing both its simplicity and complexity. Written for oboist Laura Karney, Zosa has evolved from our many discussions about the role of breath in both the performance of music and the practice of yoga.
Laura and I premiered Zosa on January 25, 2005 while we were both in residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Banff, Canada, and have since performed it in the USA (New York), Sweden, the Netherlands, and Germany.
Duration: ca. 7 minutes
Recording: Laura Karney, oboe and Ellen Lindquist, piano (recorded live at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts Recital Hall in Stony Brook, NY in 2005)
To read more about oboist Laura Karney, please click here.
Zosa is published by Potenza Music.
Trio for English horn, bassoon and piano
Groundings reflects the ongoing cycles of “groundedness” and “ungroundedness” that we as human beings all face throughout our lives: cycles in which grounded, balanced states evolve mysteriously into — and emerge out of — ungrounded, chaotic ones. The title also pays homage to the “ground basses” common in music of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Commissioned by the British contemporary music ensemble Ephyra, Groundings was first performed in November 2004 at the Jacqueline DuPré Music Hall in Oxford, England. It was originally scored for alto saxophone, cello, and piano. This version for English horn, bassoon, and piano was created in 2016 for Laura Karney.
Duration: ca. 8’30
Click here to listen to audio sample (clarinet, cello and piano version)
Groundings will soon be published by Potenza Music. Until then, it is available directly from the composer (email@example.com)
dream seminar / drömseminarium
2 singer/actors and a chamber orchestra of 12 instrumentalist/actors
Nine of Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer’s poems serve as the foundation of drömseminarium/dream seminar—a devised music theater piece created by an ensemble of 14 musicians (including 2 vocalists), 4 designers, a choreographer, composer, and stage director. In his poems, Tranströmer challenges us to explore the absurdity, bleakness, and humor of contemporary life, and illuminates glowing treasures that lie beneath our mundane world, treasures which preserve our dreams and humanity.
Discovering these treasures is contingent on allowing imagination to lead us away from the quotidian. Tranströmer’s poetry is often fluid and non-linear with vivid images that morph, collapse, or expand playfully, as a result of the often-changing perspective of the speaker. Throughout, the musicians assume shifting roles of leadership, and the completed work is to be performed without a conductor (and almost completely off-score).
For this reason, drömseminarium is far more than a musical setting of these potent texts; it is the result of a cumulative collaboration. This intimate creative process developed what might have been a singular perspective on Tranströmer’s poetry into a multi-cultural collective response. All of the artists have contributed their own voices in the form of raw creative material that has in turn been shaped musically by composer Ellen Lindquist, with a scenario created by stage director Pat Diamond and soprano Kathleen Flynn. The result is a fluid, non-linear music theatre work in which myriad musical voices mirror the multiple perspectives of the poems.
Recording: This audio sample featuring English horn is based on Tomas Tranströmer’s poem ‘Lamento’. (Laura Karney, English horn; Christa Van Alstine, clarinet; Aaron Packard, violin; Michael McCurdy, percussion; Kathleen Flynn, soprano).
Companion Star has presented work-in-progress performances of ‘dream seminar’ in both Sweden and New York. It has been featured on Swedish television, and on American, Swedish, and Dutch radio. Grants to support Ellen’s work on the piece while living in Sweden included fellowships from the American-Scandinavian Foundation and the American Swedish Institute (the Malmberg Scholarship), and development funding from The New York State Council on the Arts.
About the project: http://dreamseminar.org/
Zoco Duo project
In 2017, I’m looking forward to writing a new work for English horn and guitar for the Zoco Duo!
About Ellen Lindquist
The music of Ellen Lindquist is performed regularly throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, and has also been performed in Australia, Cuba, South Korea, the Philippines, and South Africa. Discovery of unique sound-worlds through collaboration is central to Ellen’s work; several of her pieces involve dance, theater, poetry, and performance art. Ellen’s work has been heard at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The United Nations, and The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine (New York). Past commissions range from solo and chamber pieces to choral and orchestral works.
Ellen has served as composer-in-residence at Mälardalen University (Sweden), and has been invited for multiple residencies at the Visby International Centre for Composers (Sweden), the Banff Centre for the Arts(Canada), and the International Ceramic Research Center(Denmark; a collaboration with Swedish ceramic artist Henny Linn Kjellberg to develop porcelain percussion instruments). Ellen has been invited to speak about her work live and in radio interviews in the US, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands. Her work is published by Potenza Music, Marimba Productions, Inc., and Apple Mountain Music Press (ASCAP).
As a pianist, Ellen has performed as chamber musician and accompanist in the US, Canada, and Europe. She was a co-founder of the Musicians’ Alliance for Peace (MAP), and co-organized MAP’s annual Music for Peace Project, a global network of concerts for peace. During the years 2004-07, 350 concerts dedicated to peace were performed in 30 countries. Ellen holds degrees from Stony Brook University (MA and PhD in composition) and Middlebury College (BA in composition and piano performance). She serves as Associate Professor in the Composition Department at NTNU in Trondheim, and has taught at the Gotland School of Music Composition in Sweden and Stony Brook University. Ellen is a member of the Norsk Komponistforening (The Norwegian Society of Composers). She lives near Trondheim, Norway with her family, where she is artistic director for a house-concert series called ‘Huskonsertene i Rissa’. Upcoming projects include commissions in Sweden, Norway and the United States. A deep respect for and love of the natural world is reflected in her work.