LEGENDS AND LIGHT VOL. 2 from Navona Records leaves no stone unturned. From the vast expansiveness of the open sea to the microscopic particles of our world’s chemical makeup, this follow-up to 2018’s LEGENDS AND LIGHT is an ambitious collection of new works for large ensemble. This album features Tributum from composer Nan Avant, a piece that fuses the characteristics of Irish and Scottish celtic bagpipes with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Today, Nan 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 learn about the insight she gained from working with other composers on the album, and the lyrical quality she hears in the Portuguese language…
Who was your first favorite artist growing up?
Ravel is definitely one of my first favorite artists. As a young piano student, I was introduced to his piano works and performed several of his pieces in college. His rich orchestrations and compositional writing are exquisite. I am also a huge fan of Beethoven, Bach, Satie, Granados, Albeniz, and Latin and Jazz Artists such as Antonio Carlos Jobim and Bill Evans (Evans being at the top of my jazz list of composers and pianists).
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
As a teen I had an exceptional piano teacher who taught her students how to perform music with expression, depth, and nuance of color. I come from a family of visual artists, painters and sculptors and with this new understanding of music, I knew I wanted to express art as a musician.
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would love to spend creative time — or simply spend time — in Portugal. Take in towns like Porto with red tile rooftops, the landscape and sea, listen to live Fado music in Lisbon nightclubs, immerse myself in Portugal’s art and history, hear people speaking the Portuguese language which has a lyrical quality and — in song form, such as Fado, it’s extraordinary — then take these experiences back with me to my creative Pacific Northwest environment, with gray skies, rain, clouds, the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, (also known as the Salish Sea), which all contribute to an inspiring, creative and reflective atmosphere, and write new music.
What was your favorite musical moment on the album?
There are many moments in this outstanding album. Each composer has created a significant orchestral work which carries highlights within each piece. I found it insightful to read what each composer had to say about their creative process, with details of instrumentation and the musical ideas that unfolded into a cohesive story.
What does this album mean to you personally?
I am honored to be included in LEGENDS AND LIGHT VOL 2 with these illustrious composers from the United States, Scotland, and Australia. Recording Tributum with The Royal Scottish National Orchestra under the direction of GRAMMY-winner David Watkin, the brilliant bagpipe performances of Lorne MacDougall and Ryan Murphy all recorded by the amazing PARMA team has made this a remarkable experience and has set in motion a new platform in my career as a composer.
Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?
Tributum is a reflection of the beauty and majesty of the British Isles and conveys both my experience visiting Scotland, the Highlands, Isle of Skye, and Glen Coe as well as my imagination of Ireland, its emerald green landscapes and cliffs leading to the sea (which I have yet to experience). Tributum captures the essence of these vistas through the orchestral writing and the Bagpipes of Ireland and Scotland.