American trumpet soloist Andy Kozar releases “A Few Kites,” his premiere solo record, featuring extraordinary new works for trumpet and electronics from many of the country's leading composers. Best known for being one fourth of the 'inventive' (New York Times) and 'cultivated' (The New Yorker) group loadbang, Andy is committed to commissioning new works for trumpet and electronics as part of a larger project to grow the repertoire for his instrument. The composers on this disc, Paula Matthusen, Ken Ueno, Scott Worthington, Quinn Collins, Tyler Harrison, Davíð Brynjar Franzson, Eve Beglarian, Heather Stebbins, and fellow loadbanger Jeffrey Gavett, all offer different interpretations of what a trumpet and electronics piece should be in their unique languages. The combination of Andy’s performative dexterity and innate sensitivity to phrase delivers performances that hover above stale musical ground while still being tethered to a new music tradition.
|Andy Kozar, trumpet, Quinn Collins, electronics||6:02|
|02||on the imagined relations of night sounds (and silent darkness)|
on the imagined relations of night sounds (and silent darkness)
|Andy Kozar, trumpet, Paula Matthusen, electronics||8:24|
|03||Quentin: Benjy's Song|
Quentin: Benjy's Song
|Andy Kozar, trumpet, Ken Ueno, electronics||3:04|
|05||A Few Kites|
A Few Kites
|Andy Kozar, trumpet, Leah Asher, violin, Scott Worthington, electronics||4:25|
|Andy Kozar, trumpet, Tyler Harrison, electronics||4:17|
|07||longitudinal study #1a|
longitudinal study #1a
|Andy Kozar, trumpet, Davíð Brynjar Franzson, electronics||7:00|
|Andy Kozar, trumpet, Jeffrey Gavett, electronics||5:09|
|Andy Kozar, trumpet, Scott Worthington, electronics||8:49|
|Andy Kozar, trumpet, Heather Stebbins, electronics||6:06|
|Andy Kozar, trumpet, Eve Beglarian, electronics||4:03|
The opening work of this record, Quinn Collins' Blister, is a technical tour-de-force, highlighting Andy Kozar's virtuosic abilities on the instrument. The electronics include a juxtaposition of found audio objects (bending of metal sheets, breaking of glass, and the dragging of chains) and synthesized material. Both the trumpet and synthesized electronic material primarily use eight chords, which are approached melodically either intuitively or by employing algorithms using Markov chains in a computer application titled Grace by Heinrich Taube.
The inspiration for Paula Matthusen's on the imagined relations of night sounds (and silent darkness) lies in the ever-changing soundscapes of New York City. The source material is drawn from field recordings conducted overnight at the Great Lawn in New York City’s Central Park, beginning at the start of summer in June, and ending in early September. Interested in the present soundscape of the city that never sleeps, the work invites the audience to listen in on the various states of sonic activity as they transition gradually from sunset to sunrise, as well as early to late summer.
In Ken Ueno's Quentin, the first, short, movement is played on a part of the trumpet that is not normally played separately from the rest of the instrument: the first valve slide. In fact, it is a first valve slide from a Bb trumpet (a deconstruction of a trumpet), whereas the rest of the piece is played on a C trumpet, “hacked” with a 7-ft tube inserted into the first valve. The timbral distortion effected by these ostensible preparations and the microtonal focus of the piece are ways in which the composer imagines a kind of primitivist music of the future. Or, put another way, music which at once can be evocative of some faint memory of a folk music of an esoteric tribe of the ancient past as much as a experimental music of a virtuosic music cult in an unspecific distance into the future.Read More
On the title track, A Few Kites by Scott Worthington, Andy is joined by violinist Leah Asher. Placing brief musical fragments over a wind-like, undulating drone, the violin incessantly repeats one fragmented motive; each time slightly altering its inflection while the use of the moving plunger mute on the trumpet adds another layer of fluctuation to the overall texture. These aspects of the piece, in addition to the drone, convey to the listener something hazy and muted, as though heard from a great distance — like seeing a few kites floating far away against the vast, empty sky.
Tyler Harrison's Flutter is one of the earliest pieces that Andy Kozar commissioned for trumpet and electronics. The five-note motive at the beginning of the work is of emotional and symbolic significance to the composer and regularly appears in many of his works. In Flutter, the hyper-processed flutter-tonguing, multiphonics, and percussive effects in the trumpet produce the sound and affect of a digital primal scream, or a desperate pleading.
Moving Target is a study of intonation on the trumpet, written by composer and vocalist Jeffrey Gavett. Based off of the natural tuning tendencies of each possible overtone series on Andy’s trumpet, harmonies were built around these pitches. The trumpet and electronics traverse a microtonal pitch space ranging from the simplest sustained intervals to the constant flux of glissandi, exploring the ways in which changes in harmonic context require subtle shifts in tuning.
Still Life, the second work on the album by Scott Worthington, places the trumpet within a slowly evolving drone. The trumpet's repetitive figure also slowly evolves, echoing itself with minor permutations throughout while Heather Stebbins' Tracer emulates that strange consciousness you have during the last bit of a dream, and the feeling of clarity and understanding that is shattered when you finally awaken. You try in vain to remember the events of the dream, but all you can make out is an ambiguous essence.
The title of Eve Beglarian's Osculati Fourniture comes from a mysterious query in a journal entry written by the composer's mother, Joyce Heeney Beglarian, on 22 May 1981, while en route to Florence from Pisa. Though it's remained unknown why these two words came into her mind while riding along the autostrada, it seems likely that the whole business has some obscure significance. The music is a response to the gushe Zirkesh-e Salmak in the dastgah of Shur, part of the repertoire of Persian classical music.
– Andy Kozar
Recorded at Oktaven Audio, Mt. Vernon, NY
Engineer: Ryan Streber
Producers: Ryan Streber, Jeffrey Gavett
Recording Dates: Blister, October 30, 2018; Quentin, December 6, 2019; A Few Kites, July 10, 2018; Flutter, January 26, 2018; longitudinal study #1a, December 3, 2018; Moving Target, June 2, 2018; Still Life, November 3, 2018; Tracer and Osculati Fourniture, December 7, 2019
A native of Pittsburgh, Andy Kozar is a New York City based trumpeter, improviser, composer and educator that has been called a "star soloist" by TimeOutNY, noted for his "precise trumpeting" by New York Classical Review and has been said to be "agile as he navigated leaps and slurs with grace...he shifted between lyricism and aggression deftly" by the International Trumpet Guild Journal. A strong advocate of contemporary music, he is a founding member of the contemporary music quartet loadbang which has been called "inventive" by the New York Times, "cultivated" by The New Yorker, and "a formidable new-music force" by TimeOutNY. He is also a member the Byrne:KozarDuo, and has performed with new music ensembles including Bang on a Can, Ensemble Signal, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. He has worked closely with leading composers including Helmut Lachenmann, Christian Wolff, Joe Hisaishi (Spirited Away), George Lewis, Chaya Czernowin, and Pulitzer Prize winning composers David Lang and Charles Wuorinen. Kozar has performed at venues both domestically and abroad including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, MoMA, Rothko Chapel, The Barclays Center, and Shanghai Symphony Hall. Andy is on trumpet faculty at Hunter College in New York City as well as the Longy School of Music of Bard College in Boston and is a Yamaha Performing Artist and exclusively performs on Yamaha trumpets.
On Friday, Andy Kozar released A Few Kites, a trumpet and electronics solo album on New Focus Recordings. It features works by Paula Matthusen, Ken Ueno, Scott Worthington, Eve Beglarian, and others. A plethora of extended techniques, including deconstructing the instrument itself, are pitted against imaginative electroacoustic vistas. Recommended.
— Christian Carey, 7.11.2020
Trumpeters around the world owe Kozar, also a member of loadbang, a debt of gratitude for commissioning ten count'em TEN terrific new pieces for trumpet and electronics. Kozar and his collaborators push the trumpet into realms of expressiveness not heard since Luciano Berio turned his attention to the instrument in 1984 for Sequenza X. Whether it's the first movement of Ken Ueno's Quentin, which literally deconstructs the trumpet, or Blister by Quinn Collins and on the imagined relations of night sounds (and silent darkness) by Paula Matthusen, both of which use field recordings and found sounds to interact with Kozar's gleaming tones, the variety here is simply astonishing. It's a well-sequenced album, too, reaching a perfect conclusion with Eva Beglarian's ruminative Osculati Fourniture, its use of modes from Persian classical music giving it a quality both ancient and modern. Let's hope other trumpeters pick up Kozar's torch and put these pieces into concert halls as soon as we're able to gather for live music again.
— Jeremy Shatan, 7.19.2020
AMERICAN TRUMPET SOLOIST ANDY KOZAR’S RECENT NEW FOCUS RECORDINGS RELEASE A FEW KITES HAS BEEN CALLED ‘ENTRANCING’ BY ALEX ROSS (THE NEW YORKER, THE REST IS NOISE) AND THAT ‘TRUMPETERS AROUND THE WORLD OWE KOZAR…A DEBT OF GRATITUDE…THE VARIETY HERE IS SIMPLY ASTONISHING. REALMS OF EXPRESSIVENESS NOT HEARD SINCE LUCIANO BERIO TURNED HIS ATTENTION TO THE INSTRUMENT IN 1984 FOR SEQUENZA X' BY ANEARFUL. HERE ANDY KOZAR INTERVIEWS COMPOSERS EVE BEGLARIAN AND PAULA MATTHUSEN ABOUT THEIR FEATURED WORKS ON THE RECORD AS WELL AS THEIR MUSIC’S RELATIONSHIP TO PHYSICAL SPACE AS AN INSPIRATION, OR CREATIVE STARTING POINT.
RELATIONSHIP TO PHYSICAL SPACE
Andy Kozar: Though there’s so much that we can investigate, specifically what I'm interested in discussing today is your musical and compositional relationship to physical space. I don't necessarily mean music written to be performed in a specific space but rather music that is written about or inspired by a particular space. Eve, of course the River Project, and the large body of music that came from that comes to mind, but Osculati Fourniture, the piece of yours that appears on my new record, was written after the travel journals your mother wrote it Umbria [Italy] if I'm not mistaken. Paula, naturally the first piece of yours that I think of is on the imagined relations of night sounds (and silent darkness), which also appears on the record, not to mention your other recent work surrounding the Old Croton Aqueduct outside of New York City. To begin, can each of you track the evolution of this aspect of work? Do you remember when this idea of a [musical] relationship to space became something that you started working with?
Paula Matthusen: Thank you for the question and congratulations on A Few Kites! I’ve always been interested in space, in part because of my work with electronics, but also I just like acoustics. With the works related to the Old Croton Aqueduct, that started I’d say in about 2010 actually. First, with the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel, which was completed in 1844 and was registered with the Brooklyn Historical Rail Association as the world’s first subway tunnel. What’s interesting about that is a sort of relationship I’m interested in. In the case of New York City, looking at the confluence of water and transportation technologies. But also to really look at what these lifelines of a city are, what relationships that it implies in terms of the navigability of the city as well as the resources that move in and out of a city. In the case of the Old Croton Aqueduct, which is now defunct, parts of it are still available to look at and have some encounters with through the ‘Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct, which is part of how I’ve been able to garner some access to tunnels and stuff like that. There’s something really interesting to me about cities.
In the case of the Old Croton Aqueduct, that was New York City’s first supply of fresh water. New York had been plagued by fires and disease, so once fresh water came in 1842, that was a moment of great celebration and jubilation in the city. The Great Lawn was part of that effort.
AK: The Great Lawn in Central Park you mean?
PM: Yes. And prior to being the great lawn, it was a receiving reservoir for the Old Croton Aqueduct. So once that aqueduct was built, you have this huge population boom in the city. So much so that now the demands for water exceed what that aqueduct was capable of supplying. That then leads to the construction of the New Croton Aqueduct. The Old Croton Aqueduct becomes defunct, becomes filled in, that’s where Olmsted and Vaux come in, in terms of the design, or re-design of that space. They filled in that reservoir but hated the rectangular shape of it and really tried to design around that, so consequently what you have right now in that park, as a result of that history, is this massive open space that has baseball diamonds. If you walk around through that park, you’ll find manholes that say ‘Old Croton Aqueduct’ on it from the 1860s, but then you’ll also find some retaining walls around the traverses, particularly at the 86th St. traverse which used to be tied to the retaining walls of the aqueduct. So there are things like that where now it is like ‘oh, this was here that whole time but we didn’t realize it.’ I turn on the running tap in my apartment, have fresh running water and think, ‘wow, this is a modern miracle, we have fresh running water,’ but it kind of is! Looking at those relationships, where they’re historically bound, not taking for granted what we have around us.
There’s something that’s really interesting about going to a space and realizing that the moment that you’re making sound in it, it actually intersects with all these different things and it’s just a question about where you draw your attention in relationship to that.
AK: Eve, can you remember when this sort of thing became interesting to you? Was it always there or did it become more and more interesting throughout your career?
Eve Beglarian: I’m not sure that place was particularly important prior to the River Project. But what’s so interesting is that subsequent to going down the river, I can’t imagine it not being important! So it’s really interesting how that shifted my practice, my whole way of thinking about where ideas come from and so on. I had never thought of that before!
AK: Paula, we did these intonements that were excerpts from [Charles Ives’] Central Park in the Dark. Can you talk a little bit about why Ives? Or why you specifically referenced that piece aside from the title? When you had to sift through these hours and hours and hours of recorded material, what did you look for? How did you prioritize material?
PM: Good question! First, there’s one very simple association which is that I can’t help but think of trumpet, I have such an Ivesian association with that! I just love it. With [Central Park in the Dark], part of what’s important to me is that, in Ives’ introductory notes he talks about a ‘sound and pictures of so many years ago, before the combustion engine and radio ruled the earth’ kind of thing. I’m messing up the quote, but part of what’s happening is that he’s imagining a soundscape from years ago and so there’s something that’s really interesting about that being written into the piece in terms of all the overlapping sonic fragments. And that was something that I was interested in as well, because the sounds that he references in the notes are things like the sound of the ‘occasional elevator,’ and that was back when a lot of those train lines were elevated. And so that sort of sound would have been a part of that loud soundscape.
We did those recordings and we deliberately spread them out over the course of the whole Summer because I wanted to play with that as a long timeframe as well, that sort of transition from early Summer to late Summer. There’s all these great sounds! Some of those things were Shakespeare in the Park, or the sounds of when the cicadas start, certain insects that cue certain parts of the Summer. And there’s one too where we projected a recording that you [Andy] made because you were out of town, but we did it on July 4th because I wanted the sound of fireworks as they sound in Central Park. It was playing with those things, in some cases being strategic and in others, being open to whatever the situation welcomed. What was interesting then was listening across those. For some friends who have done major long durational field recording projects, they’ve set up algorithms to read what’s the most interesting part in an extended file. I wanted to be systematic about going through it, but also leave it completely open in a way, so I just broke it down in 2 hour segments. From each segment [session] I had a 13 hour recording times 2 [recording devices] so that’s 26 hours for each recording session. In a sense I was like ‘okay, let’s look at midnight to 2am,’ ‘let’s look at 2am to 4am here…’
AK: Did you listen to every minute of all of those tapes?
PM: No, that’s impossible! I tried that previously and someone maybe could, but it’s a different type of listening. Prior to that, I had been doing recordings in Inwood Hill Park which was part of a failed project, but listening in real time to everything that’s happening.
What’s interesting is 4am, and 4am is interesting because in the city that never sleeps, it is profoundly asleep. There’s something beautiful about being in a place that’s so densely populated when it’s so quiet. What fascinated me too was playing with some of those moments when it would just be quiet, and then like clockwork, the birds would start chirping and it was like (pshew), and it was just amazing. If I started it all over again, it would definitely be different because I would just find different samples.
I think part of it too is the vision of what we had. The Ives excerpts that we chose, I ended up drawing fairly few. I had a lot of ideas of how that would be processed in the end, but I threw a lot of them out because the sonic information of what was in the environment was so interesting and then your [A.K. playing], hear the transition of your sounds was so interesting that trying to make it overly complicated with all this other stuff…
AK: Right, it clutters.
PM: Yep. And so I kept stripping it away and stripping it away until it was right.
PHYSICAL SPACE AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
AK: Eve, one of the things that’s clear to me in your music, both in terms of Osculati Fourniture and The River Project is that the location is important, or that certain aspects of the music was inspired by the location that you (or in the case of Osculati, your mom) were in. But the focus more often feels like it’s on the people that inhabited the locations, or shared those spaces with you. Can you speak to the relationship between physical space and personal relationships that arise from these confluences and inspires the work?
EV: Yeah, I think people and places are completely combined. Almost all of the pieces going down the river are definitely located in a particular [physical] location but there’s also a person involved. I think of, say, the trombone piece In and out of the game.
I filmed it before going into town and meeting this man who told me about being suicidal, having almost committed suicide, and then having not committed suicide, and so in a sense I made the piece for him in response to that conversation we had had. And yet, when I was out on the river filming the birds [for the video component], I had not yet met him. And in fact, that music was written a year before I went down the river so it’s sort of as if individual pieces of material don’t coalesce until either the right person, or the right place, or some combination of both comes together to make that piece want to exist. Right? And in a certain way that’s sort of how Osculati Fourniture works. I was in Umbria learning about classical Persian music for a commission completely unrelated to Osculati Fourniture which was, in fact, not a commission; it was for the L.A. Master Chorale with traditional Persian instrumentalists. And so I was studying classical Persian music because I [didn’t] know anything about it. The tape part [of Osculati Fourniture] is that, and it’s offset and turned into a tape part and then a melody that you [A.K.] and I do as a sort of secret duet.
The title comes from this journal entry of mother’s when she was in Tuscany, and she writes the question ‘what is Osculati Fourniture?’ while she’s talking about the shutters in Lucca and overhearing a conversation on the bus that she’s riding in, with some aged nuns talking about [how] the last time they had seen each other was on a walking tour of Zimbabwe, and you can imagine how they say the word ‘Zimbabwe.’ So it’s shot through with this Italian-ness, this Persian thing, the fact that my father grew up in Tehran, and the fact that this is my mother’s journal asking what Osculaturi Fourniture means, which is in fact completely mysterious! I don’t know what it means! Osculations we know, from Einstein on the Beach, is wiggling, so kissing, fervent osculations, the last Knee Play, the climax of Einstein on the Beach, beautiful. That’s what osculate means, to wiggle basically. And Fourniture, spelled that way, is a particular organ stop, but it’s also, I believe, how you spell furniture in Italian? I don’t know, it doesn’t seem right to me!?! So could she have glimpsed an advertisement and misread it and thought, because she was trained as an organist, so she would have known the word ‘fourniture.’ But here’s this whole relation of things which are all sort of related to one another ‘osculat-ially’ [laughter] because they’re not actually related to each other but maybe they are. Somehow they all come together to make this piece. So is that place based? In a way it’s completely place based.
AK: Right, it couldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for those places.
EB: Right, and if I hadn’t been in Umbria studying Persian music and then coming across this journal of my mother’s? None of those pieces would have come together into one place without each individual one.
PLACE AS POLITICAL
AK: One of the ways we can think about what politics is that it’s the complexity of the relationships between people living in a society, and so if we think of it very generally like that, how and why man-made physical spaces are designed, built, developed, and maintained are naturally political. Paula, when you’re developing musical work that’s based on the aqueduct, or its relationship to the city and what it means to the people that are using this infrastructure, or Eve, the same question but relating to the infrastructure you came in contact with on the river, do you think of the music we’re talking about today as being political?
PM: Yes! I mean, it’s complicated as with anything. As we’ve been talking about, some of these things are inescapable. With infrastructure, yeah, of course. When you’re talking about the deployment, or systematic planning of how resources will be used, and the labor and materials too, and then delegate those, it’s going to be political and it always has been. What’s interesting then is what happens if we approach that musically.
Parks for example. Part of my interest in that is the idea that sound goes places that our bodies cannot, and that’s something that intrigues me, partially because it opens up possibilities for exchange, possibilities for intersection across time, and just an invitation to think about things differently. In the case of [Central] Park for example, if you go there during the daytime, it’s a place that’s safe for kids, if you go there in the nighttime, watch out, you’re taking your life in your own hands. Why is that? Playing with that as a sort of prompt.
But also realizing what has value? What sticks around? With the Croton Aqueduct work, there’s this beautiful masonry that I love recording and being able to spend some time with, but this beautiful masonry exists because the labor to make the brick was cheaper than other materials to use like some types of metals that would have made a different sound. Why do things get to stick around? When I was in Rome recording aqueducts there, these beautiful arches stick around, but had they been covered in gold or jewels you can bet that it would be gutted and repurposed somewhere else, so they stick around in part because they don’t have value for the system at the time. But if you wait long enough, it offers something else. It’s always shifting, it’s always complex, we don’t know what the relationships are going to be, but there’s something there to poke at creatively. Part of what I like about playing with it with sound is that it is a sloppy signifier, it’s not a 1:1 or linear relationship. It is something that can open up more doors than it can close, and so that is part of the appeal in working this way for me.
TRANSFORMATION OF PLACE
EB: One of the things that strikes me about your piece, Paula, is that it’s political in the sense of all those implications about infrastructure, it’s existence and absence and all that, but it’s also historical, in that you’ve got the Central Park of the present day, or in fact, pre-2020, because it is clearly pre-COVID. That Central Park soundscape is not [a] COVID soundscape, which is also quite interesting for me to think about, we hear this piece now totally differently than we would have heard it a year ago because the soundscape of New York [City] has been so transformed.
AK: Right, or if we tried to record, used the same ideas [behind Mathusen’s imagined relations of night sounds (and silent darkness)], but recorded it this Summer…
EB: It would be a totally different piece. But also, you’ve got Ives’ version of Central Park, which is a particular decade in the early 20th century, and then you’ve got the old Croton Aqueduct moment of Central Park, which is when the Great Lawn was actually a reservoir, which was totally news to me and totally fascinating to learn about, and I’m wondering if you hear the water in that space. I’m curious whether it’s audible to you [Paula].
PM: On a metaphorical level?
PM: Interesting! I always find something different with it. You know that Derrida quote from Archive Fever where he say ‘the archive creates, well it destroys’ kind of thing, so there’s part of that that I always think about. And the example of putting something in a drawer and being surprised to find it by being given enough time it becomes interesting again. There’s part of that question too, what sticks around? So I think in some of the cases of ‘hearing the water,’ you hear the resonance of the way one structure informs another. So there’s a resonance there, but not always one that we might expect, but then when you make that linkage it becomes exciting somehow because it’s palpable to your lived experience and connects to something else.
EB: And then of course we’ve learned that Central Park was also an African-American neighborhood that was ‘cleared,’ namely, destroyed, in order to make way for middle-class park land which has been heavily policed against Black people making use of it as parkland. So you’ve got all of that going on, so it’s both sonic, geographical, political, historical, and trying to sort out which is which to me seems to be missing the point because it’s all of a piece in a way that gives me great pleasure! I really love your piece for that reason and I can’t peel all those layers apart!
TAKING UP SPACE
AK: [Eve], I know the answer, that yes, you think of your music as being political and having played a lot of it, that is there. How do you think about [the idea] that the fact that us just taking up space is political?
EB: I mean, my urge for going down the river in the first place was a belated response to Hurricane Katrina and thinking about the Mississippi River as the spine of the country. Thinking about river control structures as, after all, both the cause and result of hurricanes and the destruction of the wetlands of Louisiana. And also, that by traveling from northern Minnesota down to Louisiana, what you’re doing is traveling from the genocide lands of Native American habitation down across the Mason-Dixon line, which passes through sites of real horror, racial horror, say, East St. Louis and the Trail of Tears, Vicksburg, the sites of Civil War battles and so on to get to New Orleans. So the whole history of European-American habitation of this country is completely contained in that journey. What’s fascinating is the degree to which that remains present, and the degree to which it’s washed away and in fact, the Native American habitation; ‘lay lightly on the land,’ to use [Paula’s] metaphor of packing the desk with something in it, there’s no desk!
There’s a place on the early river that was a gathering place in the summer for the Ogibwe from many thousand miles around, on Lake Pepin, and they would grow rice there. In the summer, they stayed put, they weren’t traveling around, but were staying put and growing rice and that’s where they hung out in the summer. We know this to be the case, but we don’t actually see remnants, even though it was a major city. There were thousands of people living there every Summer for many decades, maybe hundreds of years, we don’t really know. So that’s quite interesting, how European technology tends to hang around. The stream in my land [in Vermont], if you follow the stream there’s this marble bridge in the middle of the woods and it’s beginning to disintegrate. But it’s a bridge, made of marble for god’s sake! And it’s completely mysterious why it’s there, and what it signifies. Was it part of an aqueduct for the town? I really don’t know. It’s none of those things now, it’s nothing, it’s garbage, but it’s permanent garbage! The remnants of that marble will be there for the next thousand years. And so that, in and of itself, is this fascinating marker of the arrogance of different cultures that I can’t get over, I can’t stop thinking about. And certainly by the time you get to the lower Mississippi, it’s been channelized within an inch of its life. It’s basically a super-highway, it’s an interstate, which means that all the dirt that the river has scoured is now going off the edge of some cliff in the Gulf [of Mexico] and that’s why Louisiana is disappearing. Because we’ve done that. And until we figure out some other thing to do, if we figure out some other thing to do, we’re just going to continually erode Louisiana, which means New Orleans will disappear in no-time. Sorry, I’m raving!
AK: Not at all! It’s super fascinating, and I think there’s this very clear connection between this idea of the two very different infrastructures that you’re both looking at in varying ways, and the permanence of them. Certainly they’re not permanent permanent, but they’re going to be around for quite some time. Even the idea that these old aqueducts, despite the fact that they’re unused, they’re still there, and Central Park is still there, and the Great Lawn is still there and will be there for probably a very long time. I think that’s a very interesting thing.
PM: I would encourage you to read, if you haven’t already, Alan Weisman’s ‘The World Without Us.’
AK: I’ve heard that’s really wonderful, probably from you actually!
PM: It ties into some of those same things. Central Park sticks around because there’s a whole lot of resources that are being poured into it and so again, the politics of it can never be left behind. Like, if everyone were raptured, then you’d really see the way nature takes over! Because we are aggressively working against it a lot of the time, that’s part of the nature of this as well.
AK: The last thing I wanted to ask, and I realize this is maybe a little bit of a tricky question because I know that we’re all friends and like each other! I love both of your music, I know why I love it, why I love playing it, and I know that you each really like each other’s music. Even in just a few sentences, I’m curious if you were able to distill what it is that you like about each other’s work? I feel that you both have a lot in common, though your music is very different, or at least that’s how I experience it!
EB: I mean, in a way, I think our conversation has illustrated that in a sense, because so many of the things that each of us are thinking about are shared, even if the way that we manifest them musically might look different, or sound different on the surface. I’ll just say, what I love, which I think is not as clear in the conversation we’ve just had, is the sense of theater in the moment in your pieces as well. So you’ve got space and sound, but you’ve also got the theater of space and sound going on in any live performance of your music, Paula, that I think is so rich and so generous. It creates this space, in the performance space, that’s a different space perhaps from the space that you’re working with in the pre-recorded material, but it’s a beautiful thing. So that’s what I would say.
PM: I’m like taking notes, ‘I have so much to learn from Eve,’ but it’s true! I still remember the first time I came in contact with you, through Hildagurls. I was 19 and that made a huge impression on me. You can delete this if it makes you feel awkward at all, but [Eve’s work] has all these layers. I love that’s it’s distilled into these things that I can perceive what they are when I’m first introduced to them, and then I can see their relationship, and it points to things like, In and out of the game for example. Things that have this hurt underneath them but are completely unafraid to go there, and yet can be completely joyous at the same time. And it opens up a world of just complete emotional complexity that gives me hope. I love it. I remember the closing moment of Hildagurls where you’re playing these MIDI sticks, and it opened up this historical text in a way that was completely inviting and engaging, and doing it in this way that you do for [Osculati Fourniture], it’s so personal but then it opens it up in this beautiful way and I love that you said a secret duo! You’re singing on it right? I feel like I heard your voice. It involves all these layers of travel, family, musical family, and it’s completely unafraid to be intimate with it, and the way that it ends with Andy’s held tone at the end of it, it’s perfect! It’s really effective and moving. Well done!
EB: Andy gets lots of credit for that because it’s his choice, how much of me to use in that secret duo and he calibrated that in this really beautiful way.
AK: As much Eve as possible! That’s the key! It’s fascinating to me, learning what composers like about other composers music. I think that it’s a thing, or maybe it’s less of a thing now than it has been in the past, but I [still] feel like so much of the discussion can end up devolving into what we don’t like about other people’s things. There’s so much good stuff. What is good about it? What is it that we like? What about it is moving? I like hearing, for instance, Paula, you talking about Eve’s music, hearing what you have to say [makes me think], ‘oh yeah, that’s why I like it too!’ Hearing it framed in a way that helps to make sense of that I’m feeling. Thanks very much for spending some time talking about these things!
— Andy Kozar, ed. Anna Heflin, 10.07.2020