On November 21, HOCKET will be presenting a FREE concert of new commissions at the Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale, CA (concert information available at www.HOCKET.org). Leading up to the performance, HOCKET will be interviewing the four commissioned composers of this concert and discussing their newly written works. Here is HOCKET’s interview with Ryan Harper where they discuss his piece A 19.
Tell us about A 19.
A 19, for two toy pianos, takes its name from a work by the artist László Moholy-NagyThe piece explores a sustained gesture in which the melodic range and rhythmic structures are gradually constricted, leading both the performers and audience inexorably toward a single point.
What about the painting by László Moholy-Nagy inspired you?
I was intrigued by the fact that no matter how I looked at A 19, I found my eyes drawn to a point of convergence. There’s a translucent circle hovering over the intersecting lines, but like the audience it seems to be a spectator to the events occurring below it.
How do you feel this painting is represented in your piece?
The painting and the piece both maintain a formal detachment to the depicted gesture that nevertheless is the reason for the work’s being. I think structure is paramount in both.
What drew you to two toy pianos as the instrumentation for this piece?
In addition to the fact that it’s not everyday you get to write for a group like you guys on the Schoenhut Piano Company Artist Roster, I looked at the limited melodic and tonal range of the toy piano as a kind of challenge. I was interested in exploring how to portray extremes within a narrow set of parameters.
You have lived in both New York and Los Angeles, two major cities with very different musical scenes right now, how has this affected your music?
I think the longer I spend in New York the more I become drawn to the idea of an economy of means. It’s impossible to yell longer or louder than the city, so you have to figure out how to make what you say count in some other way. There’s definitely some great music happening in both cities right now though.
Anything else you would like to add?
Have a good concert! I wish I could be there.