Edition One ‘Handmade Homegrown’ Theater Dakota 20 September 2012 20.15.
Presenting Monica Germino, Frank van der Weij + Ensemble Klang quartet performing works by Louis Andriessen, Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, Donnacha Dennehy…
Interview with Monica:
1) What compels you to participate in the act of making new music and working with composers?
Curiosity, boredom, rebellion, mentors and friendships were what started it all. disclaimer: I love Bach (and many other dead composers). I still play Bach every day – it’s essential for many reasons. I spent years and years immersed in the traditional-violin-repertoire-world. I’m glad I jumped through all of those hoops and I’m glad that I did my time.
When I crossed over to the dark side, some fantastic teachers and mentors cheered me on- John Heiss, Martin Bresnick, John Cage, Lukas Foss, & more. Last but not least, many of my friends were composers. I played the violin = a match made in heaven. I was and still am fascinated by what people are composing: recently, now, or what might be coming up.
2) When and how did you first come across the composers whose work you will be performing here?
Donnacha: in a bar in Waterford, Ireland in 2001. He had come over from Dublin to catch an ELECTRA show. I later listened to everything of his I could find. I first worked with him on his piece The Weathering (2004) for ELECTRA.
Louis: in a bar in Amsterdam (De Jaren) in 1992, a year before I moved to Holland. I later ended up playing more than 25 of his pieces.
Julia and Michael: in a bar in — no, not in a bar this time. I feel like I’ve always known Julie and Michael (and David Lang) from Bang on a Can- their influence was palpable at Yale, where I did my master’s degree. Michael: i was blown away by Decasia and Weather, and long-addicted to (the cello version of) Industry. Julie: Tell Me Everything got me hooked for good, Cruel Sister, Stronghold, the list goes on.
3) What is your earliest memory of music making?
Loving the attention-getting game where people would pick out random notes on the piano, tap wine glasses, etc, and I got to name the notes. I learned note names right alongside learning the alphabet, thanks to various family members who wrote and re-wrote (in pencil, which rubbed off easily) the note names on the piano keys.
My mother used to ask me, when I was a little girl pretending to be a ballerina, ‘what do you want to dance to, the Nutcracker or Agon?’ I thought nothing of it, of course (kids are blank slates). It was only later that I realized Stravinsky had played a constant role in my life ever since. I studied everything I could get my hands on – short piano pieces (I was a terrible piano student), the violin concerto, 3 Pieces for string quartet, Duo Concertante, the list is too long for this space. My ears were blasted open and I never looked back.
Another, somewhat less progressive memory is when I wrote two small piano pieces and brought them to a violin lesson. I remember one was called ‘Kitten Paws’. Serious stuff. I think I was around 8 or 9 years old. My violin teacher listened impatiently when I played them for her, and then said that we didn’t have time for this: lessons were for violin. This formally marked the end of my compositional career.
4) What is your favorite key?
…seriously, how can i answer that?