In concert at SFMOMA
April 28, 2022
The Auerglass organ is a study in collaboration, and I could not have been more fortunate to join the handful of students who got to experience every quirk, fascination, and charm of this instrument.
More information about the organ and the incredible artists behind it can be found here:
It was an absolute honor to be hosted by Tauba Auerbach and Cameron "Glasser" Mesirow at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts. It was a truly transformative experience, and I cannot express my gratitude enough to all members involved (especially my partners!) for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
COALESCENCE - Alexa Thanos & Alice Kubo
Alice and I worked on this piece from February until April. We practiced as often as we could on the organ, and found ourselves occasionally seated next to each other with our arms intertwined and tangled at a university grand piano when we rehearsed off of the organ. (And when we were seated at two pianos, many post-its were dedicated to mimic the every-other-note restriction on the Auerglass manuals.)
Though I planted the musical seeds and motives for "COALESCENCE," the collaborative nature of the organ encouraged (and in some ways, obligated) Alice to engage in the composition's development. "COALESCENCE" oscillates between chapters which celebrate independence, where one partner exclusively pedals silently while the other plays, and chapters which highlight the challenge of making a cohesive line of music across the shared manuals.
Each chapter features dictated and aleatoric material. The video featured above lacks the first chapter of the piece.
"COALESCENCE" is dedicated to Tauba Auerbach and Cameron Glasser. The scores were presented to them (one in red, one in blue) following the end of their culminating performance.
Full score available here:
Moments of Musical Angels - Masha Aleskovski
I could not have been more thrilled when Masha asked me to be her partner. From the day I first spoke with her (in passing at a pianoforte concert on our university's own 1808 Clementi), I knew Masha to be an exceptional musician whose entire life was musical in every moment. She explores this in both pieces she composed for the program.
In this piece, Masha highlights the complexities and nuances that come with sharing diatonic material across this instrument. She styled this piece as if the organ did not have to be shared at all, and I have to admit it was the most challenging piece I performed all evening! But it was a wonderful exercise, and I couldn't have been happier to sit across from our own Dr. Ben Sabey. Masha and I have each studied with Dr. Sabey for a few years now, and we couldn't be more thankful to do so.
Musical Conversation - Masha Aleskovski
I mentioned that I had a sense of Masha's musicality from our first meeting; to revisit this, I have to stress that the way in which she held a conversation felt deeply musical, which delights me now to think of in the context of her piece, "Musical Conversation."
This piece was entirely aleatoric. We rehearsed the concept on a number of occasions, but each motive that you hear in this video is something that Masha came up with on the spot. No two performances of this piece are alike (by any means!). Naturally, the quirk of this piece is that if she sings something in a standard diatonic key, be it major or minor, I physically cannot respond with those notes, as I am limited to the whole-tone scale!
Masha illustrates that even if there is not an entire common ground in which to communicate, a healthy and engaging conversation can still persist and inspire new notions about what it means to listen. I learned a great deal from this piece, and simply couldn't have had this perspective without Masha or the Auerglass, both to whom I am eternally grateful.