have notebook & pen – will compose

I started writing this piece, The Green Lion Eats the Sun – for double-bell euphonium, in Boston airport during a 7-hour delay (this is what boredom can do for you…) and finished it a few days later in Manchester, UK.

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Marco Blaauw from musikFabrik and I had a conversation about recent projects and here’s an excerpt:

Liza: …I guess it’s the idea of parallel structures of creativity and consciousness that really fascinates me. For instance, “The Green Lion eats the Sun”, the piece for double-bell euphonium that I’ve written for Melvyn Poore, is about these two sides of consciousness which are represented quite simply with the two bells. The opening and closing of the bells give you access to one or the other side but in a weird reversal: the so-called unconscious side is much more colourful, active, vibrant than the so-called conscious one. There’s a gap: when we are on one side we can’t realize what’s on the other side. And it’s only when we change the perspective or, in the case of the piece, change the position through the opening of the bell that we can actually perceive it. That was one of the really basic ideas I had compositionally about switching between these two sides of the instrument.

Marco: Is composing, is music helping you with that process of switching between the different states of consciousness?

Liza: Yes it is – definitely! Because composing and making music is actually to be in touch with an activated form of consciousness, which is not really part of ordinary operations. I experienced that very strongly writing the piece for Melvyn.

I found it very difficult in the beginning to write for the double bell euphonium. How to activate this instrument, which doesn’t have a huge repertoire? It is not a pre-trodden path in terms of solo repertoire or of any kind of established virtuosity. I really struggled. I was getting later and later, because I was finding it hard to work with the instrument. Then I actually starting writing the piece quite recently when I was at Boston airport delayed for seven hours. One would say it is the least promising place to get into composition! But for some reason I was just so focused, so ready to reach out and pick up this piece that I wrote half of this piece in Boston airport. Surrounded by this layer of noise and frustrated passengers, I just got into such a focused state of mind and being. Nothing could disturb me. Nothing could touch me. That is the ecstasy of making art. The music is making you and you are making the music. The wonder one aims for but doesn’t necessarily reach. That was really exciting! Many thoughts I had before just came together, thoughts I had grappled with in the previous, let’s say, two years… And then it was like having access to another state, to another world, and being able to touch it and grab it. That’s one of the initial ideas of my piece “Songs found in Dream” (2005) – the Australian aboriginal idea that songs are things you “hunt” for in this other state of being.
(Skype interview with Marco Blaauw, musikFabrik, 30 May 2014, transcribed by Mareike Winter, reproduced with permission)

The Green Lion Eats the Sun (2014) for double bell euphonium will be premiered on 21 September 2014 by Melvyn Poore, Witold Lutoslawski Polish Radio Concert Studio. 

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