Cellist Mariel Roberts, who you probably know from an awesome performance of the Andy Akiho composition “21” (setting an incredible precedent for cellists by multi-tasking her performance with percussion AND looping; it also got fellow cellist Ashley Bathgate upping her game as well when she played it), had a few minutes to talk about her new CD Nonextraneous Sounds and her CD release party on September 26th at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn at 8 PM. The CD is wonderful, please check it out! And you can purchase it at the show, you can purchase it up here, or on the link on the bottom.
This being the beginning of Fall, we also talked about a September-related piece she played called “Sept Papillions”.
CM: Can you talk a bit about this CD release concert on the 26th you are doing?
Mariel: I’m doing a couple of solo pieces from the CD, and then my quartet MIVOS is going to play a piece by Felipe Lara, who is an amazing Brazilian-American composer, who wrote this ridiculous quartet, which is going to be great! I’m also doing this piece for cello and dulcimer by Nathan Davis, which my friend Nick Tolle is playing with me! It’s going to be really awesome!
CM: The CD is wonderful, and it’s a very edgy and dark assortment of pieces by great people like Andy Akiho, Tristan Perich and several others. Do you have a particular favorite among the pieces?
Mariel: It’s weird–I would never be able to choose a favorite, they’re all so different, which is what I really love about them. It’s such a different sound world from piece to piece, and I think that’s so amazing. And they’re all such personal pieces. I commissioned them, I worked with all the composers on them, and went through this whole process. It’s funny, they each have such an intense and dramatic story attached to them, and I just think about my experience playing them and recording them! Yeah, I really love them all so much! I definitely couldn’t choose between them!
CM: Can you talk about Saint Arc, the Daniel Wohl piece? Ashley Bathgate had played it at Bang On a Can earlier this year.
[Photo left courtesy of Avant Media]
Mariel: Well, the piece is actually about 2 years old now, but it’s a piece Daniel wrote for me, and we actually worked really closely together on it, because all those pre-recorded tracks are actually my improvisations. He used this really cool system where he recorded me improvising for a really long time, and together we transcribed the improvisations, and a lot of the material for the piece is based on the transcriptions that we did. He’s amazing with electronics, and he uses Digital Performer to manipulate the sounds. He used effects and layered everything on top of each other in a really beautiful way. In a way, it sounds like a collage of all the things we did together.
CM: You say the pre-recorded part was all you before you did the solo part? When Ashley used it, those were still your recordings?
Mariel: Yeah, that’s still my recordings!
CM: Oh, so basically that was like a duet!
Mariel: Yeah! [laughs] Ashley and I duetting!
CM: Can you please talk about Sept Papllions By Kaija Saariaho? It sounds like another great example of the dynamics of the cello.
Mariel: The piece had been commissioned in the 90s by cellist Anssi Karttunen, who is famous for interpreting new music. There are very specific ways of doing that piece, and there’s definitely an understanding of the sound that’s meant to be created by that piece, so, even though it’s quite new, it’s definitely something very specific where there could be a terrible performance of that. So, in a lot of ways, there’s a lot left up to the performer because the way she writes is going to be extremely different based on the player, based on your body and your fingers and your reach, and the way you approach your instrument–Also, your instrument! The acoustic nature of your instrument is quite different from person to person. It is going to have that difference anyway, but there’s definitely a correct way of doing it, and it’s an amazing piece!
Kaija Saariaho: Sept Papillions (Manhattan School of Music, NY; 2009)
Mariel Roberts: CD Release Party
Featuring Mariel, MIVOS Quartet and Nick Tolle
Wed, Sept. 26th, 8 PM
Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral
113 Remsen St, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Click here for info/tickets on the show–Although the show is presented by Issue Project Room, the church is where the show is being put on