Judging by Navona’s VOICES OF EARTH AND AIR VOL. III, this century is facing a significant paradigm shift in contemporary composition. The third installment of the trailblazing series again showcases contemporary choral music, and once more, it is mesmerizing – mesmerizingly tonal and aesthetic. Composer Deborah Anderson is featured with two sublime compositions: Windows is a work for women’s choir, based on a poem by a French priest. Colorado Prayer is scored for mixed choir and based on a text by a traveling minister.
Today, Deborah is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to discover how her father’s expertise in architecture helped her develop as a composer…
Who was your favorite artist growing up?
The Beatles (ha ha – I’m a product of the 60’s). My parents were not into classical performers, although they attended symphony performances. In more recent times, I have especially enjoyed Andrea Bocelli, Cecilia Bartoli, Maurice André, Pepe Romero, and Alicia de Larrocha, among others.
What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?
My most unusual performance was the November 2015 performance of my piece for concert band: Under the Bridges of Paris. My father was a civil and structural engineer, so our rare Sunday outings (rare because there were 5 of us kids, and my dad often worked on Sundays) took us to see a bridge or a dam. As a result, I came to appreciate bridges and their undersides. My passion lay in France and all things French. The bridges over the Seine River in Paris are structural wonders, especially seen from below. Under the Bridges of Paris, a 20-minute piece in 4 movements depicting four specific bridges, represents a weaving of my childhood experiences and my own passion. In October of 2015, my partner Ted and I made a special trip to Paris in order to take photos of these bridges, which he then edited. From these, a student videographer created a video slide show, projected onto a giant screen during the performance. Imagine my anxiety when the final video product wasn’t ready until the afternoon of the day of the dress rehearsal! Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQz2g31h2HU.
What is your guilty pleasure?
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Tuscany. Besides France, Italy has fascinated and enchanted me for most of my adult life, and of all the beautiful regions, Tuscany calls most insistently to me. Inspirational art abounds in architecture, landscape, painting, frescoes, language, and music. Besides, I love the food!
If you could instantly have expertise performing one instrument, what instrument would that be?
The harp. As a child, I begged for harp lessons, but my mother had her hands full with 5 children taking music lessons (piano, clarinet, trumpet, violin, voice) and could not envision the idea of lugging a harp around.
Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?
Composition has always come fairly easily to me, even as young as 6 years old. More often than not, the process consumes me in waves of inspiration that cannot be ignored. Windows and Colorado Prayer both came to me in this way, and within 2 or 3 hours of first sitting down at the piano, the intent, melodies and structure of both pieces had appeared. Often when I compose, I don’t remember writing what has found its way onto the manuscript paper. Windows and Colorado Prayer express this mysterious process, with the lovely texts as their inspiration. Bravo to the Kühn Choir of Prague for their exquisite interpretation.