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World premiere recording of contemporary American works for contralto, viola, and piano about love, death, humor, sexuality & absurdity
92 backers pledged $10,275 to help bring this project to life.

Pre-recording rehearsals and interview with Libby Larsen

Dear friends, 
the Chiaroscuro has been hard at work in the past few weeks, getting ready musically, mentally, and logistically for our recording. 

We had a wonderful time playing for UT piano faculty Sophia Gilmson last week, as she lent us her sharp ears, irresistible wit, and contagious Russian verve and emotionality. You'll have to thank her if you hear hints of Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff in our CD of contemporary American works... 

 We also premiered Graham Reynolds' wonderfully quirky and atmospheric setting of the Jabberwocky at the Austin Chamber Music Festival last week, and we are happy to share the video with you: The version we will record on the CD will be somewhat different, as Graham has not only allowed but encouraged us to improvise.

Today, via Skype, we were also very fortunate to interview and play for the esteemed composer Libby Larsen, whose post 9/11 work Sifting through the ruins will be the centerpiece of our CD. We have performed the work many times over the years but her insight, humor, nurture, and enthusiasm for the project and for our performance of her work were both humbling and highly inspiring and refreshing. We look forward to bringing her wealth of ideas with us in the studio. Some memorable highlights from our exchange: 

 - finding the right balance between what she calls the "holly s**t tempo" of the tragedy unfolding, and the "Human tempo" of "ritualizing grief". 

 - "treat the top of the siren as a fulcrum. When you get to the top, let it linger as if it is balancing, then tipping over". 

 - "Sing as if she is holding a detailed picture of her loved one, in the hopes that he is not dead." 

 - "This beginning is the city, this rhythm is a seedy blues club in Chicago, this scale is Celia Cruz meets Tin Pan Alley, and those chords are the magic skyscrapers". "Now, this is the machine of war". 

 - "Play it as if you were in a very sleazy lounge in Florida". "More ham hands". "A little bit of urban hustle is what we need." 

 - "Prokofiev loved jazz, but he sucked at it". 

We'll be in the studio, in Austin from the 19th to the 23rd, and we couldn't be more excited. We'll keep you posted. Thanks again to all of you for making this project happen. All the best. Elizabeth, Aurélien & Yuko

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