The String Orchestra of Brooklyn’s newest release, enfolding, presents two premiere recordings by Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti and Scott Wollschleger that integrate musical, environmental, and internal spaces to create tactile listening experiences. Lanzilotti’s work with eyes the color of time was a finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Composition. While enfolding joins a substantial list of releases that grew out of Covid related circumstances, the two pieces also speak to a communal need for collective musical experiences as a response to social alienation that preceded they-i pandemic.
Scott Wollschleger’s Outside Only Sound was written upon request from the String Orchestra of Brooklyn to facilitate performance under lockdown restrictions. Wollschleger was asked to write a work that would require only a few minutes rehearsal and could be performed outside. His answer was to write a work where each player is like an insect in a swarm, making sounds independently that are coordinated in accordance with time stamps in the score to create a mass of sound that moves in waves across the fourteen and half minute score. Bells, triangles, string harmonics and scratch tones, and cymbals merge with the sounds of an outdoor site park, replete with laughing voices and the backing up signal of a truck. By the time the work is finished, one can sense the transformation of the public space into something shared and contemplative.
Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti’s with eyes the color of time takes its inspiration from a series of works on display at The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu. The nine movement work unfolds as a progression of sonic rituals, textures for strings that Lanzilotti patiently mines for expressive effect. In the opening movement, “the bronze doors,” we hear a series of repeated harmonic suspensions that are sufficiently elongated so as to serve double duty as purely linear, melodic gestures. This texture elides into the second movement, “Open Triangles,” as the suspensions evolve into oscillating figures. Movement three, “Nahele,” features delicate white noise sounds, drawing the ear into the rarefied texture of a bow gently gliding across the string. “les sortilèges” opens with broad chords in a repeating, chant-like phrase before angular overpressure over an ostinato creates an unsettling contrast. The overpressure sounds grow into a mass, a chorale of non-pitched energy. “silhouette” takes advantage of natural harmonics to create luminous resonance. “Mirror XV” features insistent, arpeggiated figures, explosive scratch tones, off-kilter percussive effects and a closing sing song melody. In “mahina” we hear the granulated articulations of several rain sticks before the suspension motive from “the bronze doors” returns. with eyes the color of time closes with “enfolding.” An ecstatic moto perpetuo section cycles through expansive harmonies before we hear sotto voce echoes of the oscillating figures in “Open Triangles.”
These works by Wollschleger and Lanzilotti share a common affinity for communal ritual through sound. They achieve this ritual through an expanded sound palette for instruments and a creative approach to notation and ensemble performance. The result is akin to an exhalation from the musicians of the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, as if emerging from a cocoon to create a shared musical space.
- Dan Lippel
Lanzilotti preview: vimeo.com/724375406
Wollschleger preview: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mjazi7xSK1o
Wollschleger video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCJc8hGBdIo