Paola Prestini combines wild imagination and controlled practicality on an almost molecular level—it’s as if both are fused together in her DNA. Whether she’s talking about her own multimedia operas or VisionIntoArt, the interdisciplinary arts production company she co-founded 15 years ago, she tends to think big but she always manages to make it happen.
Unlike composers who grew up in the United States where just about any kind of music seems part of our tradition, Shanghai-born Du Yun approaches all traditions as somehow exotic, whether classical, pop, avant-garde, or even the traditional Chinese music that deeply influences so many other Chinese émigré composers.
One of the themes Robert Honstein frequently comes back to in his pieces is technology and how it impacts on our lives, yet ironically his music thus far has been anything but high-tech. Aside from the occasional electric guitar or electric bass, Honstein’s timbral palette consists predominantly of acoustic instruments. If that somehow seems contradictory, it’s more a by-product of his being attuned to the world we currently live in but not feeling straitjacketed by it.
Tons of people have devoted their whole life to new music, but few people have done so to the same extent as composer/trombonist Jim Staley, who for more than a quarter of a century devoted his home to it as well. But 35 years on, Roulette has moved boroughs and has gone from being new music in someone’s home to a home for new music.
Pablo Ziegler, who has been the de facto source for the interpretation of Piazzolla’s music for over twenty years, is an important composer of nuevo tango in his own right. Now based in Brooklyn (though he’s constantly traveling to perform all over the planet), Ziegler has a particularly strong affinity for improvisation and loves to mix tango and jazz.
Although composers are always constructing new sonic worlds, Bora Yoon is super-charging that idea through her multimedia and site-specific works. Her performances create immersive environments that, as she puts it, “transport people somewhere, and return them, hopefully changed from the experience.”
Whether she’s using a koto as an expressive vehicle for anything from jazz standards to electronic experimentation, writing idiosyncratic music for chorus and now orchestra, or creating music with plants and even insects crawling over her body, Miya Masaoka has been making us look and listen to the world around us in totally new ways for decades.