When the amazing pianist Kathy Supové asked me to write a piece for her, I wondered at what to do with such a plum! Her character is so much a part of her fabulous musical persona, I decided I wanted to bring out aspects of her personality that would enhance an understanding of her wonderful playing.
This launched me on a mission I’m calling my Portrait Pieces Project. I’m interested in making lots of pieces that act like portraits (in a very literal sense!) of the performers who commission them. I picture this project as having a lot to do with the visual art tradition of portraiture – I want the audience to get a sense of the personalities of the musicians whose work they’re enjoying in a way they couldn’t without a prior acquaintance. (I always find I listen better to music made by people I know!)
It goes something like this: I sit down with performers and talk to them about their musical lives, their education, their thoughts on just about anything we happen to think of, and then I stitch together bits of those conversations into a tape track that plays while they tackle a scored piece I write for them that is largely inspired by what we’ve discussed. It’s a heap of work for all concerned, but I’ve been loving doing it and this piece for Kathy was the first. She ended up talking to me a lot about Debussy, since at the time she was just starting her Digital Debussy project. We chatted about piano pedagogy and Debussy and dried fruits and a dozen other things, only a few of which made it into this piece. There are also a few digitally-mucked-about snippets of her playing that I threw in to the tape track for good measure. I hope you enjoy!