Kate Moore:The Art of Levitation

Alarm Will Sound will premiere The Art of Levitation, a new work by Kate Moore at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall on April 27. Kate took the time to answer some questions about the piece:

Michael Clayville: The piece you wrote is for the “(post)folk concert” of David Lang’s collected stories series. Did the idea of “folk” or “story-telling” influence you as you wrote the piece?

Kate Moore: I definitely take Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales stance on story-telling – I love gathering collections of snippets of fact and fiction found along the way on a journey, hauling them all together, joining the dots and making up a new story where the most nonsense made up thing suddenly seems plausible and the brutal truth seems ridiculous. All my pieces have a story behind them. They all capture a moment in time, a journey or a memory. – it makes life more real for me. If not more real certainly more entertaining.

MC: Are there any overt elements of “folk” that you included?/Is there a story you are telling?

KM: The spark for the piece came about on a night-time road trip to Rotterdam Port for my birthday. It was a moment of serendipity. I was, at that moment, arranging Tuba Mirum from Mozart’s Requiem, a movement about the last judgement, when I realised I was the same age as Mozart at the time he wrote pieces for the Glass armonica. While driving through the port, surrounded on all sides by infernal oil refineries and power stations I saw that the shapes of the cables and insulators used to carry the electrical current were the same shapes as the crystal bowls in the armonica. Like an electric shock it suddenly occurred to me that it was Benjamin Franklin who both invented the armonica and gave the earliest demonstrations of electricity. I was mesmerised. I knew at that moment that the piece had to be about the armonica, the sound of the resonance of the glass and electric currents. The sound of the glasses morph into metal, strings, winds and brass pitted against 8 layers of electroacoustic pulses set at slightly different tempi to create static interference.

MC: You’ve said that your pieces “answer a question” or come from a “desire to understand something better.” Does The Art of Levitation fill one of those descriptions? If so, how?

KM: Well yes – with this piece I am delving further into currents, streams and wave patterns created by the conflict between human and mechanical time, exploring the sense of tempo and feeling of duration in relation to a definitive interval of time set by a mechanical device. Each member of the ensemble is playing a melody where the duration of each note in different parts is varied, creating clouds of harmony that seeps in and out of itself, making the melodic thread come to life through movement, depth and perspective.

MC: You’ve said that you do sketches (images?) during the process of planning the piece. Do you have any for this work? Could you send them along if so?!

KM: Yes but it’s top secret. (actually it’s because I’m on the road and my sketches stayed at home)

MC: You have a very diverse background (Australia, The Netherlands and time spent in the US), what is your take on music globally? Do you see divisions or similarities between the places you spend time? Does that influence your compositions?

KM: I thrive on places where everyone can be their own person and reach their full potential in their own way. I have never understood why a whole bunch of people would want to be the same and stay in one place generation after generation. Diversity is what makes the everyday rich, beautiful and unexpected. I like to belong to everywhere and nowhere simultaneously.

MC: When you listen to music what do you find yourself listening to? What gets you most excited about a composer or performer?

KM: Musica Humana and Musica Mundana

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