Within EarShot Part 4: Krists Auznieks & "The Crossing"



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.

Krists Auznieks has been featured by The New York Times and heard his work performed across the globe, from The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles to Shanghai City Theatre and the Royal Danish Theatre. He finds both spiritual and musical inspiration in the work of Morton Feldman, as well as the likes of Ravel and Stravinsky. Of contemporary composers, he keeps an ear out for Liliya Ugay and Dylan Mattingly. His composition is entitled Crossing.

What was the inspiration for your composition? Auznieks: The term Crossing comes from Harold Bloom, who uses the term to denote rhetorical disjunctions. But it is also a search for the Emersonian crossing that Bloom traces in Wallace Stevens' Snow Man. Bloom argues that Stevens transports us to the Emersonian bare place after line 12.

What was your biggest challenge in this piece? Keeping up with the mercurial pace and the quick rate of change of my materials. The only task that was perhaps even more demanding was finding an ending that manages to eat up the rest of the piece in a balanced manner.

Do you have a favorite instrument to write for? I enjoy writing for instruments that have percussive attack but with the possibility of sustain, like a drop falling in water with endless ripples. Endlessly pedaled piano, harp, vibraphone with pedal, gongs. I also love viola. It sounds like wisdom: it has a tone of someone who has already lived and is looking back at their beautiful life.

What does it mean for you, to take part in the EarShot initiative? It is a culmination of endless hours of solitary work, and, hearing it come together in a beautiful place being surrounded by a marvelous community, it is very healing.

Where do you hope to take your art in the future?
 Maybe a four-hour work for orchestra in a villa inside a forest (and an ocean view and fog-machine and paintings by Agnes Martin or Jānis Avotiņš with curated wine and Italian meal preceding and following? The audience is seated on a fluffy carpet and the orchestra surrounds it. It’s early spring somewhere in Arizona or Sardinia. The concert starts at dusk and ends at night.)

Pictured: Krists Auznieks.

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