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EXCLUSIVE: Nadia Sirota on Symphony Space Residency, Donnacha Dennehy's 'Tessellatum' Premiere

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Jan 27, 2016 04:12 PM EST

Coming to Symphony Space this February is yMusic co-founder Nadia Sirota, in a much-anticipated four-night residency. From February 1-5, Ms. Sirota will be featured alongside Nico Muhly, Liam Byrne and David Lang, performing Donnacha Dennehy's Tessellatum, as well as works by Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire, The National's Bryce Dessner and more.

Child of Robert, Nadia is a widely known violist who has collaborated with musicians of all stripes, ranging from Itzhak Perlman all the way to The Dessner Bros. She's an award-winning broadcaster, too, as the host of Q2's Meet the Composer.

"Basically, I'm trying to take advantage of this week of programming to take hold of some of the projects that I've done and that I've dreamt about for a while, but haven't really had the opportunity to realize," Nadia tells Classicalite.

That week of programming includes: noted viol player Liam Byrne (formerly of viol consort Fretwork) with a world premiere by David Lang, Monday, Feb. 1 (7:30 p.m.); Bedroom Community's Valgeir Sigurðsson in music from his score to the film Dreamland live with video, Tuesday, Feb. 2 (7:30 p.m.); composer/ keyboardist Richard Reed Parry, Thursday, Feb. 4 (7:30 p.m.); and an ensemble including Byrne, Sigurðsson, and Nico Muhly in the world premiere of Donnacha Dennehy's Tessellatum for viola, viols, and electronics, Friday, Feb. 5 (8 p.m.).

Pressed about the Dennehy premiere, specifically, Sirota says, "The biggest project [of the residency] will be the second half of Friday night, where there's going to be a brand new 38-minute piece for viol, viola and viola da gamba called Tessellatum by Donnacha Dennehy, who is this incredible Irish composer that has been trying to write me a huge piece for a long time. It finally came around to the appropriate occasion."

Talking about Dennehey's commission and how it came to fruition, she continues, "There are 11 viola da gamba parts and four viola parts, which we multi-tracked and, the cool thing about that is, the bass style is actually very bright. So, the lowest instrument keeps the brightest texture and the highest texture--which is viola--has the darkest and that sort of combines Donnacha's crazy ideas about tuning systems. Those systems he does back and forth between tunings are based off of harmonic series. The limits are constantly rotating and becoming something new and innovative."

The essence of Sirota's stint will take on a similar color as its programming--rooting itself in a unique series of instrumentation and performance, with musicians geared towards that "rotating" spectrum of sound.

And with that, the residency comes as part of Symphony Space's FUSE PROJECT, an effort by artistic director Andrew Byrne to celebrate artists and thinkers who are pushing the boundaries of innovation across genres.

Be sure to preview Ms. Sirota below, and do get yourself set up for the performances beginning Feb. 1.

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TagsSymphony Space, Nadia Sirota, Nico Muhly, David Lang, Bryce Dessner

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