Composer Augusta Read Thomas crafts music in exquisite forms
Composer Augusta Read Thomas describes her process of writing music as combining materials (notes, chords, harmonies, rhythms, etc.) with the appropriate form.
She is one of today's leading composers, with her music performed around the world. Any given day, there are thousands of musicians learning her music, ranging from the Houston Symphony to the Berlin Philharmonic to right here in Rochester. She tries to consider each of these performers with every measure of music she crafts, while also speaking to them through the ways she notates her music with descriptions in the score.
"I make the music for the musicians, I really do," she says, "I was a musician my whole life. So I'm very empathetic to players, I want to feel how it feels to them to play it, or how it looks on the page, the actual printed music and how the paper feels on the part. And just every detail, I care about it for them."
Read Thomas is visiting Rochester for the world premiere of her recent work "Dance Mobile," in a performance tonight at 7:30pm at Eastman's Kodak Hall and streaming online.
This music combines three dance sections that can be understood as three sections of a spinning mobile, a rush of dance-activity, interspersed with moments of rest before the mobile is spun again.
Read Thomas taught at the Eastman School of Music from 1993 to 2001. After she took the role of composer in residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1997, she had to make the difficult decision to leave Eastman when the cross-country commute became too much.
She says that she hopes to collaborate with dancers more in the future, especially, as she says, "I think of all of my music as dance music, actually, because when I compose it, I'm sitting at the piano, I'm scatting, I'm singing, I'm moving my body, I'm conducting, I'm jumping around my living room to the rhythms, trying to embody the sound, feel the phrase, to feel the inner life of the sound."