Interview with Katherine Young, bassoon extraordinaire
Katherine Young is one bad-ass bassoonist. She is one of the composers participating in Physics for Listeners: a Composers’ Concert, which will be performed for the last time this Thursday, June 7 at Strobe Studios (RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org). Katherine was nice enough to give Homeroom a quick interview about her music and composing history.
1. When did you start composing? What inspired you to begin writing your own music?
I began composing in earnest when I moved to Chicago (for the first time!), right after finishing my undergrad studies in bassoon performance. I desperately wanted to be more creatively engaged and in charge of my musical life, so I started both composing and improvising right around the same time. I think I had a backlog of creative energy that needed to get expended!
Photo by Peter Gannushkin
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2. How has your writing changed and evolved over the years?
For one thing, in the beginning I was very much approaching composition from the perspective of a performer, and much of my early work involved trying to find new ways to engage performers. At this point, although I still think a lot about the performers, my conceptual framework has kind of zoomed out and then back in again in a very different way. For instance, right now I’m obsessed with Sergio Leone’s westerns—with their musicality, patience, and suspense; with the way silence and microphonic sound are deployed; and with the way Leone and Morricone slip between diagetic and non-diagetic sounds.
3. How does the city of Chicago, including its inhabitants and its other composers and musicians, influence your work?
Well, speaking of Westerns, I love how flat, horizontal, and windy Chicago is. My apartment gets the most insane cross breezes. The wind and the long vistas make me feel simultaneously relaxed and energized. And of course it’s wonderful to be in a city full of so many fabulous musicians. The fact that there are great communities of instrumental improvisers, experimental electronicists, and new music performers and composers really inspires and motivates me. I think there’s a real sense of possibility here.
4. What are some of your biggest challenges you face when writing and presenting new compositions?
I’d say getting enough time to work and rehearse is definitely one of the biggest challenges. Everyone is so busy. And it takes time to really clearly conceive of a new piece, flesh it out, iron out the kinks, develop a relationship with and amongst the musicians, and make music out of it.
5. What music do you want played at your funeral?
I have never thought about this.