String Orchestra of Brooklyn releases enfolding, featuring works by Scott Wollschleger and Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti. Wollschleger's work Outside Only Sound was written with pandemic restrictions in mind and is meant to be performed outside (and in fact was recorded outdoors as well) encompassing environmental noises into the fabric of the piece. Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti's multi-movement work with eyes the color of time covers a wide range of textures for strings, from meditative, undulating chords to tactile overpressure and scratch sounds, and was a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Music.
|01||Outside Only Sound|
Outside Only Sound
with eyes the color of timeAnne Leilehua Lanzilotti
|02||the bronze doors|
the bronze doors
|04||Nahele (the bronze horse / the forest)|
Nahele (the bronze horse / the forest)
|05||les sortilèges (the wound / the torn page)|
les sortilèges (the wound / the torn page)
The String Orchestra of Brooklyn’s newest release, enfolding, presents two premiere recordings by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti and Scott Wollschleger that integrate musical, environmental, and internal spaces to create tactile listening experiences. Lanzilotti’s work with eyes the color of time was a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Music. While enfolding joins a substantial list of releases that grew out of Covid related circumstances, the two pieces also speak to a communal need for collective musical experiences as a response to social alienation that preceded the pandemic.
Scott Wollschleger’s Outside Only Sound was written upon request from the String Orchestra of Brooklyn to facilitate performance under lockdown restrictions. Wollschleger was asked to write a work that would require only a few minutes of rehearsal and could be performed outside. His answer was to write a work where each player is like an insect in a swarm; making sounds independently that are coordinated in accordance with time stamps in the score to create a mass of sound that moves in waves across the fourteen and half minute score. Bells, triangles, string harmonics, scratch tones, and cymbals merge with the sounds of an outdoor park, replete with laughing voices and the backing up signal of a truck. By the time the work is finished, one can sense the transformation of the public space into something shared and contemplative.
Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti’s with eyes the color of time takes its inspiration from a series of works on display at The Contemporary Museum (Spalding House) in Honolulu. The nine movement work unfolds as a progression of sonic rituals, textures for strings that Lanzilotti patiently mines for expressive effect. In the opening movement, “the bronze doors,” we hear a series of repeated harmonic suspensions that are sufficiently elongated to serve double duty as purely linear, melodic gestures. This texture elides into the second movement, “Open Triangles,” as the suspensions evolve into oscillating figures. Movement three, “Nahele,” features delicate white noise sounds, drawing the ear into the rarefied texture of a bow gently gliding across the string. “les sortilèges” opens with broad chords in a repeating, chant-like phrase before angular overpressure over an ostinato creates an unsettling contrast. The overpressure sounds grow into a mass, a chorale of non-pitched energy. “silhouette” takes advantage of natural harmonics to create luminous resonance. “Mirror XV” features insistent, arpeggiated figures, explosive scratch tones, off-kilter percussive effects and a closing sing-song melody. In “mahina” we hear the granulated articulations of several rain sticks before the suspension motive from “the bronze doors” returns. with eyes the color of time closes with “enfolding.” An ecstatic moto perpetuo section cycles through expansive harmonies before we hear sotto voce echoes of the oscillating figures from “Open Triangles.”
These works by Wollschleger and Lanzilotti share a common affinity for communal ritual through sound. They achieve this ritual through an expanded sound palette for instruments and a creative approach to notation and ensemble performance. The result is akin to an exhalation from the musicians of the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, as if emerging from a cocoon to create a shared musical space.
- Dan Lippel
Outside Only Sound composed by Scott Wollschleger
Published by Project Schott New York (BMI)
Recorded live in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, NY, October 17, 2020
Edited by Mike Tierney and Scott Wollschleger
with eyes the color of time composed by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti
Recorded by Ryan Streber at Oktaven Audio in Mount Vernon, NY, August 8, 2021
Edited by Ryan Streber, Charles Mueller, and Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti
Album mastered by Ryan Streber
Executive Producers: Eli Spindel, Ken Hashimoto
Cover artwork and design by Jasmine Parsia
Supported in part by the Western Arts Alliance Advancing Indigenous Performance Native Launchpad program with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts
The String Orchestra of Brooklyn is a unique community of musicians who come together in a supportive environment to enrich the life of our communities through music. Embracing an inclusive approach to music-making, the SOB seeks to democratize both the production and reception of concert music. Founded in 2007 by artistic director Eli Spindel, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn is “quickly solidifying its role as a major orchestral figure in the borough. Incredible displays of artistry, superb programming, and a commitment to commissioning new works make the String Orchestra of Brooklyn a force to be reckoned with.” (I Care if You Listen). The SOB provides an enriching creative outlet to hundreds of musicians, and accessible, adventurous programming to thousands of concertgoers and community members in Brooklyn and beyond.http://www.thesob.org/
Scott Wollschleger’s music has been highly praised for its arresting timbres and conceptual originality. Wollschleger (b. 1980) “has become a formidable, individual presence” (The Rest Is Noise, Alex Ross) in the contemporary musical landscape. His distinct musical language explores themes of art in dystopia, the conceptualization of silence, synesthesia, and creative repetition in form and has been described as “apocalyptic,” “distinctive and magnetic,” possessing a “hushed, cryptic beauty,” (The New Yorker, Alex Ross) and as “evocative” and “kaleidoscopic” (The New York Times).
His concert works have been performed across the US and the world, including the Turner Contemporary in Margate, England, the NOW! Festival in Graz Austria, MATA Festival Interval Series, Bowerbird in Philadelphia, and the Bang on a Can Festival at MASS MoCa. Mr. Wollschleger has received support from a variety of organizations including, The New York Foundation for the Arts, New Music USA, BMI and the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music. Mr. Wollschleger was a Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Red Light New Music, a 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to presenting and crafting contemporary music.
His debut album, Soft Aberration, was released on New Focus Recordings in 2017 and was named a “Notable Recording of 2017” in The New Yorker. His second album, American Dream, written for the trio, Bearthoven, was released on Cantaloupe Music in 2019. This album, Dark Days, was released by New Focus Recordings in 2021.
Wollschleger’s work is published by Project Schott New York.
Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti (b. 1983) is a Kanaka Maoli musician dedicated to the arts of our time. A "leading composer-performer" (The New York Times), Lanzilotti’s “conceptually potent” work is characterized by explorations of timbre and an interest in translating everyday sounds to concert instruments using nontraditional techniques. Her musical voice is grounded in experimental practices, both through influences as part of the network of musicians / artists in the Wandelweiser collective, and her own explorations into radical indigenous contemporaneity. “Lanzilotti’s score brings us together across the world in remembrance, through the commitment of shared sonic gestures.” (Cities & Health) Lanzilotti was honored to be a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2022 for her string orchestra piece, with eyes the color of time, which the Pulitzer committee called, “a vibrant composition . . . that distinctly combines experimental string textures and episodes of melting lyricism.”http://leilehualanzilotti.com
The bulk of this terrific new album by String Orchestra of Brooklyn is devoted to “with eyes the color of time” by composer Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, a multipartite effort the premiere of which was pushed back for more than a year due to the pandemic. Each movement is named for a different artwork that was on display when Honolulu’s The Contemporary Museum first opened in 1988, with interludes inspired by silhouettes cast in the building’s bronze doors. But the first five times I played the record I hadn’t yet read the program notes, so I experienced the gorgeous piece solely based on its sounds. Its eight movements deftly juggle harmony-rich long tones that glide and shimmer, blending passages built around frictive, rumbling, extended techniques and ghostly overtones with brooding melodic shapes, particularly the harrowing “les sortilèges (the wound / the torn page).” Lanzilotti, whose compositional voice grows more authoritative and versatile with each passing year, draws no line between pure sound and narrative structures, creating a work of elusive beauty and renewable mystery. The album opens with a short chamber piece by Scott Wollschleger called “Outside Only Sound,” a pandemic-era piece written to elude lockdown restrictions by taking place outside, with only a few minutes of required rehearsal. Sounds of barking dogs, playing children, and passing sirens provide a canvas for an aleatoric array of strings and metallic percussion, blending in with naturalistic ease.
— Peter Margasak, 7.25.2022
The first moments of enfolding drop us into a park while eerie, metallic scratches and sharply bowed tones grow underneath. It’s an unexpected soundscape for a string orchestra. When I think of a string orchestra, I often conjure the sounds of 19th century romanticism—lush, warm sound driven by soaring cellos and sweet violins. But string instruments are capable of more than just those associations: their wooden bodies can be percussive, their strings can vibrate with gusto or hum in quietude.
On enfolding, composers Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti and Scott Wollschleger explore the extended possibilities of the string orchestra, finding new ways of expressivity within an age-old form. Recorded in 2020 and 2021 by the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, enfolding opens with Wollschleger’s quarantine-composed work Outside Only Sound and follows with Lanzilotti’s nine-movement epic with eyes the color of time, which was a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Each piece employs sounds like scratch tones, forming music driven by complex textures more than interwoven melodies. In the end, both works illuminate the lesser-heard side of the string orchestra, the sounds that hide just beneath the surface.
Outside Only Sound was first written while lockdown restrictions were in place; the assignment was to write a piece that could be rehearsed quickly and performed outside. There’s a sense of spontaneity to the music, driven by random triangle and bell taps and sporadic string bowings, all layered over the ebb and flow of the sounds of people enjoying a nice day outside. These sounds don’t mesh together: Instead, they’re content to clash, hanging in a feeling of dissonance and stillness that seems reminiscent of the time in which the piece was written. This is music that uses texture to conjure feeling, letting abstract sounds tell their own stories.
Lanzilotti’s with eyes the color of time similarly uses extended techniques to paint pictures, this time writing music that’s inspired by works on display at The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu. The piece collages together a variety of different sounds and styles: Movements like “the bronze doors” feature distant, wispy scrapes, while movements like “enfolding” are built on lush, rolled chords reminiscent of J.S. Bach. In bringing these disparate styles together, Lanzilotti is able to form sounds that feel nearly tangible.
The fourth movement, “les sortilèges (the wound / the torn page),” feels like the climactic point of the piece, and it expertly uses this blend of contrasts. The movement opens with a full-bodied, deep, and descending string melody reminiscent of pieces like Dimitri Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 8 or the famous cello solo from Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. Here, that lamentation expands outward, filled out by clocklike, low pulses. Gradually, hollow scratches begin to enter and take over, turning the chorus of forlorn string melodies into a chorus of frog croaks and swarming gristles. But the transition from one soundscape to the other comes easily, as simple as the motion of a bow against the strings. Those dramatic shifts drive with eyes the color of time as a whole, creating its visceral sensations.
In the last breaths of with eyes the color of time, sound is but a haunted wisp, fading away yet ready to transform into whatever comes next. There’s an immense history of orchestral music that seems to continuously loom over composition, but there’s always ample room for trying something different. enfolding offers one path, showcasing the many capabilities of string instruments beyond the usual way of playing them. Perhaps most importantly, through their music, Lanzilotti and Wollschleger remind us that the string orchestra can become anything you can dream it to be.
— Vanessa Ague, 8.10.2022
Every day is a new day. And every day out there there is new music to be heard, things you may not know from people you may not know. I feel I should cover as much as I can, so I do. Of course that is a problem because when nobody knows an artist they may not respond to the article and I perhaps am doing myself in? Well I cannot help that.
So today I've got another for you, something worth checking out, something local for me, not far from where I am so I feel the need to cover it even if you do not know it. It is by the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, who sound very good here. The album is entitled Enfolding (New Focus Recordings FCR 331).
It is a gathering of new and worthy works that you might know nothing about until now. That was the case for me. It features Scott Wollschleger and his 15 minute "Outside Only Sound," and then Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti's Pulitzer Prize nominated work "with eyes the color of time."
Now both works are in a kind of PostModern, not quite Minimalist mode. Both works have something distinct and original to impart and the String Orchestra of Brooklyn give us a sincere, committed and very together reading of both works. "Outside Only Sound" has a fascinatingly hypnotic wall-of-sound quality about it. "with open eyes the color of time" gives us a wonderful title and the nine part work itself takes us for a ride with slowly unfolding drone-sustain-melodies in stop time and then, well, listen!
Now if you are not really in the mood to explore the very new, you might not want to venture here. But if you are ready for a real musical adventure, this is one to add to your listening pile! Very happily recommended!
— Grego Applegate Edwards, 7.28.2022
Curation isn't everything, but it is critical. The material String Orchestra of Brooklyn (SOB) and its conductor and artistic director Eli Spindel chose for its sophomore release—Scott Wollschleger's Outside Only Sound and Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti's 2022 Pulitzer-Prize nominated with eyes the color of time—is as daring and audacious as the outfit itself and speaks volumes about its values and priorities; enhancing the release's appeal, both are premiere recordings.
enfolding was affected in different ways by the pandemic. Whereas the orchestra's live premiere of Lanzilotti's piece, originally scheduled for its new music festival in early 2020, was canceled to help contain COVID's spread, Wollschleger's was conceived and designed in accordance with the then-emerging state of things. By the year's mid-point, indoor performances had been suspended, and the very idea of performing, indoor or out, was fraught with anxiety; adding to the trepidation, musicians couldn't even safely gather to rehearse. The SOB's solution was to set two conditions for new commissions: the presentation of the piece had to be amenable to an outdoor environment; and the orchestra would require mere minutes to rehearse the work before the performance.
In his own words, Wollschleger structured Outside Only Sound so that “each player was like a single cicada and there was never a need for a conductor. Instead, each player used a stopwatch and functioned as one of a group of insects in a field, or like a gaseous cloud of sound.” The metaphors are apt: there are times during the fourteen-minute performance, recorded live in Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park on October 17, 2022, where the musicians both swell into an engulfing swarm and approximate a nebulous mass. Scored for string orchestra and six percussionists (who bow large metal mixing bowls), the piece opens and closes with ethereal bell timbres whistling alongside the ambient sounds of people chattering, children laughing, and traffic noise. Shuddering and scraping, strings gradually enter as the mass slowly grows into a dizzying fireball with rustling noises, barking dogs, and a siren surfacing to fill out the vibrant soundworld.
Wholly different in concept and character, Lanzilotti's with eyes the color of time alludes in its eight movement titles to works of art at The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu. While the opening “the bronze doors” references Robert Graham's entryway to the museum's entrance, the movements that follow refer to George Rickey's 1988 sculpture Two Open Triangles Up, Gyratory III, Deborah Butterfield's 1986 metal sculpture Nahele, David Hockney's L'enfant et les sortilèges, originally conceived as a set for Ravel's opera, James Seawright's 1987 piece Mirror XV, and Toshiko Takaezu's sculpture series moons. In advancing through parts of contrasting character, Lanzilotti's shape-shifting composition distances itself from the monolithic slow-build of Wollschleger's. Also unlike Outside Only Sound, with eyes the color of time was recorded in the studio at Oktaven Audio on August 8, 2021.
Programmatic connections aside, the work itself unfolds in a series of ritual-like statements, with SOB's lustrous textures used to evocative effect throughout. Painterly phrases and oscillating figures blend into a cross-field of melodic counterpoint, with the collective sound alternating between hushed and declamatory expressions. Particularly ear-catching are “Nahele (the bronze horse / the forest)” for the fragility of its ghostly string sonorities, the effect generated by bows delicately gliding across strings, and “les sortilèges (the wound / the torn page),” whose aura of Romantic angst is more reminiscent of Mahler than Ravel. Intense, tightly wound scraping noises add to the movement's striking character, after which arpeggiated patterns, violent scratches, and percussive effects do much the same for “Mirror XV.” In another arresting turn, granular thrum sourced from rain sticks appears in “mahina” in place of strings before the originating motive from “the bronze doors” returns. Only with the advent of the closing “enfolding” does some semblance of conventional string writing appear, with the material's tone triumphant. Lanzilotti's vibrant, ever-adventurous piece is unpredictable in the best sense of the word, much like the orchestra itself.
enfolding ultimately proves to be as bold in its programming as SOB's debut afterimage, one of 2020's most distinctive releases. How refreshing it is to once again see this special collective favouring conceptual imagination and originality over commercialism.
— Ron Schepper, 8.02.2022
The String Orchestra was founded in 2007 by conductor Eli Spindel to offer a budget possibility for people to listen to contemporary classical music while bringing together performers, composers, ensembles and organisations to work on 'adventurous' events. This CD is only their second full release I have found, besides contributions to other people's releases, and sports two compositions by Scott Wollschleger and Anne Lanzilotti.
Wollschleger's piece 'Outside Snly sound' was recorded in a Brooklyn park. It is a peculiar mixture of field recording noises and backdrops (which is actually the venue itself) gradually blending with the instruments played live. Imagine an orchestra testing its instruments in the wide open, setting individual sound imprints in a vast plane of background noise and disturbance. The effect is intriguingly 'ambient' and 'drone'-like and over 14+ minutes drifts towards a percussion climax that again unravels into the surrounding noise, including (very timely) a police car or ambulance ... Fascinating music.
Lanzilotti is herself a violist, but here contributes a composition of 8 sections 'With Eyes The Color of time'. She starts with a piece (The bronze doors) that - though a full orchestra is present - only uses flute and strings to create a three-minute flurry of two (nearly) continuous sounds circling each other. A somewhat Rapoon-like setting - though with other means. A distinct use of harmony is sensed that will accompany the listener through the other parts of the composition. This blends into part two (Open triangles) as the full string section joins and adds layers across the spectrum. The use of bass offers a 'full' sound base upon which the pointillistic phrases of the other strings form a melodic and, at the same time, slightly threatening and dissonant soundscape. Again blending into part three (Nahele), we find the music retreating. A distant breathing sound, akin to Wollschleger's work and more ambient than classical. Part four starts as an orchestral piece before it turns a corner and relapses into percussive sounds, then being embedded into deep, droney, dreamy string sounds. The percussion, though, prevails and builds up a final climax. With this, we have the components Lanzilotti uses on this release all displayed. Parts five and six toy with these, using more 'modern' than 'contemporary' techniques. Part seven is a 7+-minute ambient hiss that adds the string orchestra only towards the final moments and morphs into part 8, a string piece that reminds me of Robert Haigh, Sunday Shogun, and Kronos Quartet in its use of melody, sparse playing and moody atmosphere. Beautiful.
— Robert Steinberger, 7.12.2022
One work delayed by lockdown, the other created specifically for lockdown conditions, yet both display a dazzling use of texture and timbre with vividly imaginative use of a contemporary string orchestra.
This new disc from the String Orchestra of Brooklyn features two works written specifically for the orchestra, one takes us to a day in October 2020, to the height of Lockdown in New York when the orchestra played outside, the other takes us to the day in 1980 when the first contemporary art museum opened in Honolulu.
At the height of the 2020 lockdown in New York, indoor concerts were cancelled and even having an orchestra rehearsing together was problematic. The String Orchestra of Brooklyn's solution was to commission work specifically tailored to the needs of the moment, out of doors performances and minimal rehearsal. One of the results was Scott Wollschleger's Outside Only Sound for strings and percussion. On enfolding, their new disc from New Focus Recordings, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, conductor Eli Spindel, performs Scott Wollschleger's Outside Only Sound with one of the works that were due to be premiered at cancelled performances in 2020, Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti’s with eyes the color of time.
Wollschleger’s solution to the orchestra's commission for 2020 was "to structure music material in which each player was like a single cicada and there was never a need for a conductor. Instead, each player used a stopwatch and functioned as one of a group of insects in a field, or like a gaseous cloud of sound." The recording is intensely atmospheric and we hear an extended sequence of ambient sounds, with remarkable clarity, before the music starts. And it starts gradually, as if arising from the ambient, the situation creating the art. Wollschleger writes for string orchestra and six percussionists, who bow a variety of large metal mixing bowls, but the orchestral players themselves play a series of small bells, thus creating an element of fairy magic in this remarkable cloud.
It is a good three minutes before the formal music making begins, points of string sound emerging from the ambient in a way which makes it all seem part of one single whole. The music coalesces, the cloud develops in intensity and percussion bowls come in, but also we have non-pitched effects from the strings, but then the cloud starts to disperse, the small bells add to the effect and we return to the ambient. Sheer magic.
Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti is a Kanaka Maoli (native Hawaiian) composer and she grew up on Honolulu. with eyes the color of time is inspired by Honolulu's The Contemporary Museum (Spalding House). When this opened in the 1980s, in the historic Spalding House, the museum was the only one in Honolulu devoted to contemporary art. The titles of movements in the work refer to works of art that were featured in the museum when it first opened, along with interludes inspired by the bronze doors created by Robert Graham for the entrance to the museum
We begin with the bronze doors, directly referencing Graham's work, long held string notes which seem to each develop an intensity of their own; a thoughtful movement. Then Open Triangles refers to George Rickey’s kinetic sculpture Two Open Triangles Up, Gyratory III (1988), where the long notes of the first movement seem to grow, developing flourishes and other gestures, though the music remains intensely considered and sober. Nahele (the bronze horse/forest) is inspired by Deborah Butterfield’s Nahele (1986), and here the texture changes radically. Instead of pitch, we have unpitched effects, quiet and intense. There are moments were pitch is almost present, but it remains tantalisingly out of reach.
Les sortilèges arises from David Hockney’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges, originally conceived as a set for Ravel’s opera. And here, we seem to move into another different world, one of pitch, rhythm and melody, with repeated gestures overlaid and overlapping, but there are unpitched elements too, all linked by the idea of the repeated gesture. Towards the end, the dreams seems to get really fearsome and the pitched ideas are overwhelmed by an unpitched storm, leaving just a single wavering tone at the end. silhouette takes us back to the doors, which feature silhouettes of women on them. Hear the idea of the long held notes is mixed in with other more disturbing gestures, thoughtful but restless. Mirror XV refers to James Seawright’s Mirror XV (1987), and the movement seems to build out of silhouette with restless gestures turning into repeated motifs, again disturbed by unpitched elements. This finally unwinds and resolves in unpitched percussion which leads us into mahina. This movement references Toshiko Takaezu’s moons, a series of sculptures she often referred to by the Hawaiian word "mahina". The movement begins as a long meditative percussion solo, only at the end do other instruments join in. Finally comes the movement enfolding, which gives the disc its title. This develops into a series of repetitive motifs overlayed to hypnotic effect, but gradually things unwind, pitch becomes evasive for a time, then is reasserted in a dramatic way as the strings are replaced by the performers humming, to magical effect.
I admired Lanzilotti's piece immensely, and her imaginative use of the orchestra is stunning in the way she brings in a variety of timbres, textures and more to evoke the very different experiences of seeing and feeling the art that the movements refer back to. But when it came down to it, it was somehow Wollschleger's work that really moved me in the way he creates a timeless work from the specific COVID requirements and also manages something rather moving.
— Robert Hugill, 8.27.2022
The String Orchestra of Brooklyn’s new album features first recordings of works that transform notions of what 22 strings and half a dozen percussionists can do.
The Kanaka Maoli composer Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti’s with eyes the color of time, a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Music, has a devotional style that at times suggests earlier models. Her six pictures at an exhibition refer to works of art featured at the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu in the late 1980s by George Rickey, Deborah Butterfield, James Seawright, Toshiko Takaezu and David Hockney – the latter’s set for L’enfant et les sortilèges. Lanzilotti’s music is Impressionistic, with a muted palette and an underlying sense of pace alongside its apparent randomness. The opening ‘the bronze doors’ seems smudged in fog, the cellos and basses in ‘les sortilèges’ are painfully eloquent, there is ecstasy in the raspings of ‘silhouette’ and ‘mahina’ is the most intense movement, before the final ‘enfolding’ recalls the beginning.
Scott Wollschleger’s Outside Only Sound, recorded live, was rehearsed, as the commission required, for only ‘a few minutes prior to the performance’, and as the sounds of the Brooklyn park scrape themselves together into bits of pitch and texture a luminescent glow begins to emanate; eventually its electric urban energy consummates in the tinkling of tinyxbells. In order for the work to fulfil the other requirement, that it ‘make sense in an outdoor environment’, the players use stopwatches in order, the composer says, to ‘function as one of a group of insects in a field, or like a gaseous cloud of sound’.
— Laurence Vittes, 9.09.2022
Eli Spindel, al capdavant de la SOB, ressalta el caràcter subjugador i misteriós de la música de Lanzilotti, amb què l’autora aconsegueix arribar a l’excellència amb un acoloriment sonable ric i elaborat. [Eli Spindel, at the head of the SOB, highlights the mysterious character of Lanzilotti's music, with which the author manages to reach excellence with a rich and elaborate sonorous coloring.]
— n/a, 10.31.2022
Among these standouts, too, is Scott Wollschleger’s Outside Only Sound, a work commissioned by the String Orchestra of Brooklyn with the proviso that it be performable under the tighter conditions of 2020 safety measures. The piece requires only a few minutes of rehearsal, and is designed to be performed outside. At first, that second bit of criteria might seem enough to grit the teeth. If you’ve ever spent an evening in Central Park straining to hear the Allegretto of Beethoven’s Seventh eked out over tinpan speakers to compete with picnickers, traffic, and that one street performer whose repertoire solely consists of an off-key rendition of “Hey Jude,” you know how the vagaries of an outdoor setting can dilute a performance from potent to puny. Wollschleger, however, considers the setting to be a feature not a bug, describing his work as one in which “each player is like an insect in a swarm.” The score is marked with timestamps to help musicians keep pace with one another, and the result is akin to one of those elaborate Ocean’s-Whatever–style plans, where a number of seemingly innocuous and unrelated actions coalesce, Rube Goldberg-like, into one elegant motion.
In this configuration, the setting itself becomes a key player. Outside Only Sound begins in the shimmering beauty of the ordinary and everyday. Muffled conversations (punctuated by the occasional laugh, whistle, or ecstatic “Oh my God!”), footsteps on gravel, a sharp breeze, and the backing-up signal of a truck are underscored by a drone of bells; hazy, like a memory. Slowly, violins start to edge their way in, their cricket chirps heightening and augmenting the memory, imbuing it with significance. Over the next ten minutes, Wollschleger forms an arc out of the formless and random. It reminded me of one of my own key memories during the first days of lockdown. On my way home from the grocery store one Sunday morning, I found myself crossing Berlin’s Boxhagener Platz roughly six feet behind a woman who in turn was keeping the same distance behind a man walking his dog. The dog stopped, which meant the man stopped. In turn the woman stopped. I stopped. It was like something out of Pina Bausch. I imagine Outside Only Sound, as specific as this recording is, will unlock dozens of similar memories, specific but also very much the same—moments of the otherworldly and everyday locked in the amber of the hippocampus.
— Olivia Giovetti, 11.03.2022
True to its title, the music on this album creates an encompassing sonic space for the listener, encouraging inwardness and introspection. SOB’s innovative new release features two composers that dive into the exploration of sound in its pure form and experiment with extended string techniques and grainy, undiluted textures. Both compositions are premiere recordings and both are beaming with originality. The orchestra never gets in the way of the music but rather supports it with subtle interpretative choices.
Outside Only Sound by Scott Wollschleger was commissioned by SOB at the time when concerts in outside spaces were becoming a new normal due to the pandemic restrictions. Recorded live at Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, this piece cleverly juxtaposes outside spaces and internal experiences. The immediate sounds of everyday life, such as voices, footsteps, traffic and wind are an organic part of the composition; and strings mix, match, colour and interact with them. The changes in volume and spatiality add richness to the listening experience.
with eyes the colour of time, composed by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2022. Made of movements and interludes, with poetic titles referring to works of art in the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu at the time of its opening in 1980, it presents a flowing, ever-changing sound that is visceral and elemental. The most delightful manipulation of sonic density by Lanzilotti incorporates a peaceful motif in the strings among explorations of raw textures. The last movement on the album, enfolding, leaves the listener in a harmonious state of contemplation.
— Ivana Popovic, 11.18.2022
Scott Wollschleger’s “Outside Only Sound” starts the listen with the sounds of outside at Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, where the hustle and bustle of urban life is captured amid the quivering strings and ambient percussion sounds that flow from 6 players. Bells and bowls complement the delivery, where traces of sirens, people talking, children laughing and dogs barking illustrate how NYC was able to stay artistic and creative during Covid’s darkest days.
“With eyes the color of time”, by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, follows, and across 8 movements it emits a stirring demeanor that’s bare but impactful, where bouts of tense strings and barely audible moments of percussion make for a very unique execution.
A listen that’s rich in sonic gestures and artistic in its profound nature, the String Orchestra Of Brooklyn illuminate Lanzilotti and Wollschleger’s vision with incredible precision and depth.
— Tom Haugen, 11.30.2022