Within EarShot Part 1: Kitty Xiao & "Ink and Wash"

Todays News


Four select composers come to Sarasota this month for a musical milestone, as the EarShot initiative, dedicated to identifying and promoting promising musical talent, teams up with the Sarasota Orchestra. Chosen from 127 applicants, Krists Auznieks, Nicky Sohn, Sam Wu and Kitty Xiao will spend a week in workshop with the musicians of Sarasota Orchestra, as well as three visiting mentor composers and LA-based conductor Christopher Rountree, all leading to a concert on March 16, where the young composers will hear their music performed by a full orchestra for the first time. In this four-part series, SRQ meets the minds behind the music.

An Australian composer based in Rochester, NY, Kitty Xiao counts Stravinsky, Sculthorpe, Ravel, Barok and Ives among her musical inspirations, as well as Talking Heads and Michael Jackson. Her composition is entitled Ink and Wash.

What was the inspiration for your composition? Xiao: Ink and Wash is inspired by Chinese calligraphy, especially the works of New York-based artist Gu Wenda. I was drawn to the way in which Wenda works with a past tradition to create new ways in questioning the present and the future.

What was your biggest challenge in this piece? 
I was experimenting with some textural ideas in this piece that I had never done before. This was more challenging for orchestra in comparison to chamber music, where you can go and ask the musicians to try out the ideas together.

Do you have a favorite instrument to write for? 
I love writing for percussion, because it takes me so long just to figure out what I want to write for. At the moment I’m composing for organ, which is a pretty sensational instrument. I love its aspect of time and place.

What does it mean for you, to take part in the EarShot initiative? To actually have the opportunity to hear my work performed with the full force of the orchestra is not just going to be a wonderful learning experience but also an intricately personal and powerful moment. 

Where do you hope to take your art in the future?
 I’m really interested in producing my own concerts, that combine other explorative elements such as new instrument, spatial and/or acoustic design.
 I also really love the idea of doing more noise projects.

Pictured: Kitty Xiao. Photo courtesy of Sarasota Orchestra.

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