Composer Missy Mazzoli

(Photo: Marylene May)

Brooklyn-based composer Missy Mazzoli visits Boulder this week as part of a program to help listeners connect in new ways with people who create music.

Mazzoli's residency includes an intimate recital, coaching for composition students at the University of Colorado and a performance of her piece "Sinfonia (For Orbiting Spheres)" at the Boulder Philharmonic's concert on Friday. (A recording of the performance will air March 23 as part of CPR Classical LIVE! broadcast series.)

Mazzoli's residency with the Boulder Phil even includes a stargazing hike to help listeners gear up to her piece, which reflects on the motion of the planets. (Updated: Organizers unfortunately had to call off the hike due to cloudy skies.)

The activities are designed to help new listeners get to know the composer, whose music mixes electronics and unique percussion sounds with Baroque music influences. Her 2015 piece "Vespers For a New Dark Age" is a great example. 

Mazzoli says the weeklong residency, organized as part of a project called Music Alive, is a welcome new approach.

"Often when I’m invited to work with orchestras, I come in, I have two rehearsals, I have the concert and I just go home," she said. "And this week is so satisfying. ... It’s a simple idea but it’s really brilliant and much needed in the orchestral world."

Michael Butterman, music director of the Boulder Philharmonic

(Photo: Courtesy Boulder Philharmonic)

Mazzoli and Boulder Philharmonic Music Director spoke with CPR's Brad Turner about the musical residency, "Sinfonia (For Orbiting Spheres)" and more. Click the audio link above to listen.

Interview highlights:

​Mazzoli on Baroque music as an inspiration:

"Lately I’ve just started playing Bach every day on the keyboard. And there’s something just so beautiful about the structure, and the way that Baroque composers can communicate emotions without really telling you how to feel directly. ... Also, a lot of Baroque music is very strange. It can sound very contemporary, and I think there’s this really interesting link between Baroque music and contemporary music."

Butterman on collaborating directly with composers:

"The opportunity to present any new work is always exciting because there are so many new things you can discover sometimes together with the composer. ... It’s just that dynamic process of creating is exciting to me and something you don’t get to do with Beethoven or Brahms in quite the same way."