One of our talented interns, Eric Boodman, interviewed composer Ryan Anthony Francis ahead of the premiere of his "Album for Guitar" at the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble shows this weekend, at City Theater on the South Side. Eric has written up a short preview about the composer's ideas for the commissioned work. More information is available at www.pnme.org.
From Eric Boodman:
Imagine a Mark Rothko, the way the rough swatches of color seem to shimmer.
That is the effect composer Ryan Anthony Francis was going for in his suite “Album for Guitar," which premiered Friday night in a performance by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and guitarist Mattias Jacobsson. Mr. Francis wanted to move away from the structure that many classical pieces have. Instead of the movements being linked by a narrative arc, he wanted each one to stand on its own, as a track on a recorded album might.
“It’s like a series of paintings. The canvases would be four inches by fours inches. You can’t really focus on the whole series at the same time,” he said. “You come up close, and there’s a sense of intimacy.”
The composer, who is based in Portland, Oregon, has been in Pittsburgh all week, rehearsing the piece with the ensemble. Although “Album for Guitar” is written for a soloist and ensemble, Mr. Francis wanted a more fluid relationship between the guitar and the other instrumentalists -- less back-and-forth, and more blending. “Guitar is the center of gravity of this piece, and the rest of the ensemble orbits around it,” he said.
He was surprised to find that PNME’s performance will not have a conductor, given that each instrument’s line often has its own pulse. “I was pretty amazed they were able to keep it together,” said Mr. Francis.
The program also includes pieces by Christopher Cerrone and Amy Williams.