This Friday night, June 3, Aperture Duo, the violin/viola duo project of Adrianne Pope and Linnea Powell takes the stage at Boston Court for the next installment of wild Up!’s WORK series. Thankfully, Linnea and Adrianne found time between rehearsals to answer a few questions about the show and the duo. Enjoy, and see you Friday!
So, tell me a bit about Friday.
Adrianne: Po Pow!!
Linnea: On Friday night Adrianne and I are featured on a double bill for wild Up’s WORK series. WORK concerts highlight the influences and passions of members of the band and we’re excited to bring our chamber music project Aperture Duo to the series. This concert is a huge honor for both of us and we took the opportunity to bring some friends along and play some larger ensemble pieces.
A: It’s going to be a raucous show: we’re playing duos by George Aperghis, W.A. Mozart, Nicholas Deyoe, and a world premiere by Chris Rountree with our good friend and collaborator, Jodie Landau. We’re finishing the concert with a Julia Wolfe piece for 5 singing, stomping violins. Prepping for this concert with Maiani da Silva, Mona Tian, and Nicole Sauder has been a total blast.
What inspired you to start this duo? Were you friends before and wanted to do something together, or was it a specific body of work you wanted to explore and develop?
L: I moved to LA in 2013 and was pretty hungry for chamber music opportunities in town. A year later Adrianne showed up at a wild Up planning meeting and I basically accosted her to read through some duos.
A: I had no idea what I was getting into, but once we started reading Mozart, I was amazed at how well we clicked musically. Then we discovered a ton of similarities….both native surf-town-hippie-ville Californians, University of Michigan alums, amino acid fans, etc. We decided to set a goal for our reading rehearsals by preparing a full concert. We found a recently written duo by Clara Ianotta that we both loved and added it to the Mozart and Martinu.
L: I think we were both surprised at how well that first concert went. It’s a goal of every chamber musician to to be spontaneous and completely present on stage, and it definitely was the case for this show. We had so much fun performing and our audience loved it. After that we were hooked. Knowing that there was limited existing rep for violin and viola duo made it all the more enticing since we were both excited to commission new works.
We know each other through the new music scene, and I’ve of course seen you play with wild Up! and program works by local composers. So, imagine my surprise when a friend’s first comment after seeing Aperture Duo was about the Mozart – he said “that was the best Mozart K. 423 I’ve ever heard.” Is your interest in “the rep” similar to your interest in new music?
A: Absolutely. I love looking at a piece written today, then looking back at Mozart and realizing that badassery is timeless. Composers have always been and will always be breaking, rewriting, then breaking rules over and over again. Our focus is definitely on new music, but by performing music from multiple genres we become better interpreters and musicians. The styles inform each other.
L: It’s all there, no matter when a piece was written: form, contrast, phrasing, communication, sound-world, intent. Working with a composer on these concepts can make it easier because they can give us specific ideas, but we still do a lot of our own interpretation on every piece. And sometimes it’s really fun to say “they’re dead! let’s do what we want.”
Have you found any sticking points on the sort of genre-mixing you program? Or are you finding audiences to be as open minded as you are?
L: In general, the response to our programming has been super positive. With such closely related instruments, the common misconception is that all pieces programmed on a violin and viola duo concert will sound the same. We see this as a fun challenge, and we strive to program contrasting works.
A: We also put a lot of thought into the audience experience. We want our programs to hold the audience’s attention and we want them to actually feel things during our concerts…whether it’s bliss, curiosity, or total discomfort to the point of wanting to pull their hair out. We also like to ask the question of “what is beautiful?” This allows us to be creative with pushing the limits of our instruments’ sounds.
Who do you like to go hear in town?
L: There’s so much happening all the time! It’s super inspiring to see our friends in the new music scene putting themselves out there and programing shows with so much intent. We both try to see as many concerts as we can to support the thriving scene.
A: Besides local groups, I love to go to all kinds of different concerts…from Lila Downs to Andrew Bird to Patti Smith.
L: When my ears need a break I love seeing independent theater and dance.
What’s next for Aperture Duo?
A: This summer, we are excited to be in residence at Avaloch Farm, where we will work on rep for next season and workshop a commission with Noah Meites. In August, we’ll be performing at the Carlsbad Music Festival. We have lots of shows in the works for next season including an Aperture Duo and Friends concert with Richard Valitutto and some exciting commissions.
Anything else you’d like to add?