Magic with Everyday Objects: The Music of Missy Mazzoli

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Well it has certainly been a minute! I’m thrilled to be back hosting brand-spanking-new episodes of the show, and I can think of no better homecoming than a week of Q2 Music programming inspired by Brooklyn’s Missy Mazzoli. Missy has a distinct, poignant compositional point-of-view -- a voice which rings clearly throughout her work, be it music written for orchestra, her chamber-pop band Victoire or operatic voices. This week we’ll explore Missy’s music and her background with an exclusive interview with Mazzoli herself and insightful musical introductions from the composer to her numerous works. 

While I was out, I had a wonderful, crazy time on the road, playing with some of the most varied outfits yet. Along the way, I’ve been thinking about about the nature of interpretation and appropriation. As part of a performance art festival called Performa, I was part of a performance work by artist Ragnar Kjartansson that looped the three minutes of the emotional climax of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, fully-staged, for 12 hours. The result was a breathtakingly moving marathon of emotion. On the road with another group, I participated in a cover of Gavin Bryars’s Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet that brought the house down.

As I am NEVER the composer of what I perform, I approach all of these tasks in a similar manner to performing works by songwriters or composers in the room. However, what’s the difference between interpreting a score by someone long-dead or someone halfway around the world and re-imagining or covering a score? Where do these concepts meet, and how far is too far? I suspect that the Classical and Pop worlds have very different ideas about this last concept, though maybe I’m wrong? What is the difference between covering and stealing?