New Music for Saxophones: Stacy Garrop and Marcos Balter
Blogpost by Becky Swanson
It was such an honor and privilege to work this past weekend with two world-renowned composers: Stacy Garrop and Marcos Balter. Upon receiving the music for this event, I knew my quartet and I would be in for challenging rehearsals and ensemble work, as both composers sensitively incorporate multiple extended techniques into their music to achieve their musical aims. The amount of time and energy put into the pieces was more than worth it, however, because finally meeting both Stacy and Marcos and sharing our interpretations of their pieces with them was a deeply rewarding and fulfilling experience. Stacy was so kind-hearted and warm towards us as we played Flight of Icarus, a piece she had written for the Capitol Quartet in 2012. She graciously worked with us both Saturday and Sunday, giving us feedback and truly helping us to be poised and prepared for the concert. Our quartet’s coaching with Marcos was equally enlightening; Marcos had very deliberate and specific sonic concepts for his piece, Intercepting a Shivery Light, a work that draws inspiration from (and is also an anagram of) Radiohead’s song, Everything in its Right Place. During the coaching on this piece, it was very interesting to examine the intersections between our interpretation of his notation and what his genuine sonic intentions actually were. I was truly inspired by how passionate and driven Marcos was to help us construct and refine this beautiful piece of music.
Beyond just working with the composers on their pieces, it was also very enlightening to hear them speak about their direct experiences as composers in the 21st century during the panel discussion that took place on Sunday. Both Stacy and Marcos emphasized the importance of being driven and dedicated, which, as a Lawrentian, really resonated with me. They also spoke about being genuine towards people with whom you would like to network, as well as the importance of reaching out to already established composers. It was wonderful to hear the insightful and meaningful questions that were being asked by faculty and students alike, and it was clear that Stacy and Marcos were eager to provide advice and facilitate discourse, drawing from their own experiences in the realm of composition.