When composer Cassie Wieland was awarded a commission in 2020 from Brooklyn’s Roulette and the Jerome Foundation, she knew exactly who she needed for the project. “They asked me to write whatever I wanted,” she recalls today, “and the first person who came to mind was Vicky Chow.”
Wieland texted the New York-based classical pianist, and the two immediately began collaborating on what became HYMN — a collaborative work for solo piano and electronics that merges modern classical with granular synthesis, electro-acoustic effects processing and a free-wheeling palette of evocative colors and moods. The half-hour program, which was recorded at Roulette Intermedium, debuts April 28 on all digital services.
“This work is about connection in a big way,” Wieland explains. “I feel like the idea of connection was baked into the writing process through collaborating with Vicky. We read through handwritten sketches at her apartment, and we worked on piano preparations together. Not only is she amazing at her instrument, but just watching her technicality and choreography really influenced where I wanted the piece to go.”
In tandem, Wieland relied on her deep background as an audio engineer and her facility with Max/MSP software to create the electronic textures that make HYMN as much of a wide-ranging listening experience as it is a linear composition. “The electronics all stem from objects I had around my house,” she says. “It could be a bowl full of buttons, a hammered dulcimer, or my own voice; because the work is about very internal feelings and memories, I wanted to build that connection to the ‘internal’ sonically. I wanted to explore making tiny objects sound massive, so they become a waterfall of buttons, or a hammered dulcimer a hundred times its size, in the same way that the tiniest memories can hold the most importance.”