Interview with MusicaClasicaBA

I took a great trip this August to Buenos Aires with my organization Nunc to perform a couple concerts of Mario Davidovsky’s music at the Teatro Colón. You can see news from that adventure at Nunc’s website:

The concerts had a wonderfully warm response and as follow-up, I did this interview on August 20 with MusicaClasicaBA. English version posted below:

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Last august 15th we went to the CETC (Experimentation Center of Teatro Colón) in regard of a two concert series and a conference dedicated to the music of argentinian composer Mario Davidovsky, celebrating his 80th birthday.
It was a night of great discoveries. The first one was in fact, Mario Davidovsky’ s music, and the other one the amazing performance of Nunc Ensamble.
Nunc (“now” in Latin) was founded in 2007 by her director the violinist Miranda Cuckson. Since they opening concert in New York, Nunc has presented several programs each season and premiered many pieces of distinguished composers.
We present you the interview, in exclusive for MusicaClasicaBA, to Miranda Cuckson, where she tell us about her double function as an interpreter and director of Nunc Ensemble and some aspects of contemporary music.

After the concert in the CETC we were really amazed with your interpretation, to the point of feeling contemporary music in a whole different way. How was the idea of creating Nunc ensemble?

-I wanted to create an ensemble with a flexible list of performers so that the projects could possibly include anyone with a particular passion, affinity or talent for a composer’s music or a certain kind of presentation. I have worked with numerous performers and composers and I wanted a way to bring together projects based on the needs of a specific piece, and also in a way that is broadly community-minded. I recently saw an interview with Christian McBride, the jazz bassist, in which he said that all the really great jazz groups at a given time are actually one big jazz band because the best players just go around and play with each other in different configurations. And the new-music scene is similar like that. It has expanded but it is still basically one network of people. There are musicians I work with a lot but generally as an organization and presenter, I prefer to draw on a pool of people and talents and mainly to try to serve the composers best.

I see interpretation as a combination of preparation and spontaneity – you study the score and think about it, and may work toward accuracy and execution in rehearsal but in both practice and performance you release the emotional flow of the piece so that the audience responds to the spontaneous emotional expression and not just to virtuosity or impressive coordination. Especially in challenging music, it’s a balance of keeping a cool head but having the heat of emotion flow into the piece. I find it important to sense the piece’s passing in time, a progression or structure, or a sequence of moods or a subtly changing transformation. And I think interpretation means a sensitivity to the inner flux of music, beyond what is written on the page – how do you play so you relate notes to each other, how does the line push or pull, move forward or hold back or stay still, how is the texture of a piece changing, with certain lines coming to the front or melting into the group. These things make a performance constantly interesting and alive with meaning and changing relations. Like in life when you are talking with a person in front of you and you can see their facial expression and hear the changes in the sound of their voice.

How is the repercussion or aceptación of New York public regarding the music that the ensamble specializes?

– New York, as a cultural capital, has a certain adventurous audience that truly comes to hear the new and the modern. It is one of the best places in the world for getting involved in new music because there is really a substantial interest, a network of support and a lot of events going on. In general, there has recently been a surge of interest in new music so the larger institutions have been embracing that and involving more new works and performers. But there are always people and organizations that see classical music as only the older heritage of compositions and that is all they really want to listen to. I love that music too and I think it is wonderful to want to keep enjoying those pieces, but there are people who will find that they also can enjoy new musical experiences if they just try it (and if we communicate it well). The music of “now” is often steps ahead of the “comfort zone” of some listeners- we have to keep doing it so the art form will continue to develop and express the present time.

What aspects of a piece makes you interested to incorporate into your solo or ensemble repertoire?

– I look for pieces that convey something very vivid, whether that is an atmosphere, emotions, a kind of energy, or a sound-world. As a player, I like challenges and pieces that need to be figured out and worked on, but I am glad to play something that is simple and seems “easy” to play if it communicates something very strongly. I am interested both in new pieces that relate to the tradition and pieces that experiment with new things, technically or in the
language or form.

How was the experience of working with the composer Mario Davidovsky?

– Mario is an amazing musician. He is so imaginative and lively and he listens in a very absorbed, passionate way, like he is playing the music. He points out very important things about the balance of voices, the timing of an effect, the character of a gesture. As with electronics, the dynamics and timbres are a crucial part of his instrumental music and he shows how vividly expressive these make the music if you really do them and with conviction. The music is crafted incredibly well and is full of his personality and background and a very deep, earthy spirituality. Working with him in person, you relate the music to the person so directly, it is very moving and inspiring.

Is this you first visit to Argentina?
– Yes, this was my first visit to Argentina. It was fantastic!

Do you have invitations to come back in the future?
– Yes, the CETC director, Miguel Galperin, and I are going to talk about our next project together. So I hope to be back soon! It will be wonderful to play for listeners in Buenos Aires again.

What projects are expecting you in the United States?
– I am playing some solo recitals this year, including new violin works from my newest CD “Melting the Darkness” (to be released in November) and by some older American composers like Roger Sessions and Donald Martino. And I’ll be planning Nunc’s next projects. I continue to perform with various ensembles and to collaborate with composers on new works- a few composers are writing for me right now!