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AUGUST 28 2017: Ashley Bathgate

In her BackStage program, "eloquent new music interpreter" Ashley Bathgate (USA) explores uncharted ares of sounds and techniques, breaking the mould of a cello's traditional voice, performing works by Ashley's frequent collaborator and friend Kate Moore alongside new works by US based composers. Opening the night, local creative cohort the music box project share music shaped by the visual and visceral - including works by Natalie Williams and Cathy Milliken alongside the premiere of a diptych inspired by "OPERA + ORNAMENTS" currently on display at Conny Dietzschold Gallery.


Kate Moore – Whoever You are Come Forth 5'
Kate Moore – Stories For Ocean Shells 6'
Fjola Evans – Augun 5'
Emily Cooley – Assemble 10'
Pamela Madsen - Why Women Weep: IT IS THE QUICKEST WAY TO REJOIN THE OCEAN 11'
Kate Moore - Velvet 12'
Fay Wang - The Eighth House  9'

Whoever you are come forth (2008) was written upon the words of Walt Whitman from Song of The Open Road. The poet, in search of transcendence, rejects materiality. It is a song about a lonely traveler, the journey of an individual through life along with all other individuals and their connection to each other through the Universal Soul. (Kate Moore)

Stories for Ocean Shells (2000) was written as a present for a little girl from Thailand. Her name meant Ocean Shells. She showed me cloth whose patterns were skillfully woven in silk by hand. The patterns were so intricate and beautifully ornate, the cyclic patterns found in the cloth were reminiscent of those traced on the surface of a seashell, spiraling in ever expanding and contracting formations. (Kate Moore)

Augun (the eyes) (2013) is a movement of Ölduvísur, a large-scale work for cello and electronics based on Icelandic folk songs. The pieces takes its compositional structure and motivic inspiration from the Icelandic lullaby Vísur Vatnsenda Rósu. My intention is to keep the spirit of the original song but to transform it into a darker and more complex sound-world. One way I did this was by using motives from the song, isolating the different lines in each one, and then rearranging them on a constantly shifting time-line. This results in the motives overlapping in strange ways to create a surprisingly dissonant harmony, while still retaining the melodic content of the original. (Fjola Evans)

Assemble (2016) Having eight cellos layered on top of one another presented many opportunities for me while composing. Instead of approaching this "ensemble" of eight as a cello choir, I made each of the eight parts independent--some of them work in groups of two or three, harmonizing certain lines for a time, but others act alone, and all are constantly shuffling and re-configuring themselves as the pieces goes on. The title describes what I felt like I was doing while composing: assembling a sort of puzzle. I probably could have made things easier for myself, but this piece seemed to demand a lot of head scratching. Only at the end of the piece do the eight parts truly assemble into one voice. They all play a slow, resonant chorale that fades into silence. (Emily Cooley)

Why Women Weep: IT IS THE QUICKEST WAY TO REJOIN THE OCEAN (2017) for solo cello, spoken voice and electronics, is from my multi-media oratorio: “There will come soft rains” for ensembles, soloists and spoken voice, about the need for water and the meaning of rain. I composed this work as a solo work for cellist, that resides in the place of “middleground” between image-music and text, neither background ambient music or foreground, solo music, but hovering at a delicate point in between the various layers of the work. The cello part is based upon “middleground” materials of masterpieces of tonal music —the resonant architecture of voice-leading analysis of works, and spectrum of overtones,  so is intentionally both reminiscent and yet distant.  This work is also an embedded nocturnes, so has also a secret quote of Chopin hidden within. Like Anaïs’ own discussion of her self in her diaries, which this work quotes, this work embodies three selves—the cello, the spoken voice of the performer, and the recorded voice of Anaïs Nin. Anaïs Nin (1903–77), an American writer of Cuban-Spanish and French-Danish descent, is perhaps best known for her close association with Henry Miller, and for her extensive, deeply introspective diary. Transformed by psychoanalysis and a subsequent relationship with Freud’s longtime colleague Otto Rank, Nin wrote surrealist, experimental, and deeply personal fiction derived from her own experiences. She understood these innate characteristics of texts better than most writers, and through the creation of her handmade, semiautobiographical, deeply personal books, created works of great magnetism and power. (Pamela Madsen)

Velvet (2010) This is the way the rich material moves: It slides across a breeze as the fabric turns and stretches out like a mammalian glider over the changing density of air beneath its body. The shades of light and dark are emphasized by the lines and creases where the sun catches its outlines. Where the tactile fabric is inversed, shadows are made darker by the turgid grottos and canyons carved into the tectonic landscape of its folds. 

One is reminded of the phantom shape of a seated being given corporality by the evolving landscape of heavy cloth that falls and catches around invisible limbs of da Vinci’s youthful studies.

The invisible limbs are music and the folds of cloth are the warm resonance of the instruments as they are played. (Kate Moore)

The Eighth House (2014) So as far as the title, if you’re a person who’s kinda into astrology, theeighthhouse is considered the most powerful and intense. On the one hand, it’s called the House of Sex – the cello is a very sensual instrument to me, since it’s shaped like a human body. In writing the piece, I wanted to explore the maximum of possibilities of the interactions between the cellist and the cello. There are many gestures and sounds that represent the tensions and flexibilities of the instrument as a kind of copy of the human body. 

On the other hand, the eighth house is also called thehouse of death, secrets, darkness, transformation and regeneration. In the piece you’ll hear many fragmentary gestures that die out or recombine into different shapes. It’s like death and regeneration. Also at many places, the electronics, synth sounds and pre-recorded materials follow with cello, which are like the shadows of the subjects. It’s like getting the first impression of someone but not completely seeing who he is underneath. (Fay Kueen Wang)