Missy Mazzoli

Notes from the Composer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

These Worlds In Us

Performed by the Yale Philharmonic

The title "These Worlds In Us" comes from James Tate's The Lost Pilot, a poem about his father's death in World War II. (In the last line of the poem Tate writes, "misfortune placed these worlds in us".) "These Worlds In Us" (2006), for orchestra, is dedicated to my father, who was a soldier during the Vietnam War.  The theme, a mournful line first played by the violins, collapses into glissandos almost immediately after it appears, giving the impression that the piece has been submerged under water or played on a turntable that is grinding to a halt. The melodicas (mouth organs) played by the percussionists in the opening and final gestures mimic the nostalgic wheeze of a broken accordion. The rhythmic structures and cyclical nature of the piece are inspired by the unique tension and logic of Balinese music, and the march-like figures on the snare drum and hi-hat bring to mind the militaristic inspiration for the work. "These Worlds In Us" was premiered by the Yale Philharmonia and subsequently performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, South Carolina Philharmonic, Spokane Symphony and Albany Symphony.

Still Life With Avalanche

Performed by eighth blackbird.

Still Life With Avalanche (2008) was commissioned and premiered by chamber ensemble eighth blackbird. The piece is essentially a pile of melodies collapsing in a chaotic free fall. The players layer bursts of sound over the static drones of harmonicas, sketching out a strange and evocative sonic landscape. Halfway through the process of writing the piece I received a phone call telling me my cousin had passed away. There's a moment in this piece when you can hear that phone call, when the piece changes direction and the shock of real life works its way into the music's joyful and exuberant exterior. This is a piece about finding beauty in chaos, and vice versa.

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Comments [7]

I love this piece. I can recall Ms. Mazzoli and I having a discussion about it after it was played by the Westfield Symphony Orchestra. Wonderful! Best of Luck!

Aug. 11 2010 10:57 PM
Sam from Ohio

Absolutely gorgeous!

Jul. 02 2010 09:50 AM

"These Worlds In Us" is well orchestrated and develops nicely. The glissandos are effective without being a gimmick. One could wish for a more in-depth development but, overall, a good professional effort.

Jun. 28 2010 06:08 PM
Ethan Wickman

Love the dreamlike continuity and ease of the orchestra piece--at the same time unrelenting like an ever more intense ruminating thought. A beautiful concept that is very well wrought. I knew this composer when she was a freshman in college and am not in the least surprised by her successes both professionally and artistically.

Jun. 24 2010 06:20 PM
Lainie from NYC

Missy's music is always warm and smart. Her sense of orchestration is sensitive, clever, and suprising. I'd love to hear what she'd do for Orpheus!

Jun. 24 2010 03:31 PM
Kasia from Amsterdam, Netherlands

The first composition is amazing. Melodic, yet contemporary, it has force and subtlety.
Definitely music I would like to listen to more!

Jun. 24 2010 05:07 AM
edward from LA

well done. lovely sounds throughout. missed the "chaos" part mentioned in the description. in a way, the program notes sort of got in the way: rather would have liked to hear it for the sake of just listening.

Jun. 20 2010 12:54 PM

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