The violinist has commissioned 21 composers to donate a new work and to nominate 21 freelance composers for new commissions
Responding to the coronavirus lockdown, violinist Jennifer Koh is launching ‘Alone Together’, an online performance series of newly-composed music. Accordingly, she has asked 21 composers to donate a new work between 30 seconds and one minute long, as well as to nominate 21 freelance composers for new commissions funded by Arco, the artist-driven nonprofit collaborative Koh founded in 2014.
Starting Saturday at 7 p.m. Eastern time (midnight, UK time), Koh, the 43-year-old violinist will perform a selection of these donated and commissioned works via Instagram TV (@jenniferkohmusic) and Facebook Live (facebook.com/jenniferkohviolin). From there, works will migrate to YouTube and be available on demand.
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Saturday’s program will feature composer Wang Lu’s ‘Hover and Recede’ (which Koh likens to a ‘microtonal ambulance’) and Wang’s nominee Joungbum Lee’s ‘Hovering Green’ (which Koh describes as ‘a distorted version of the Spring Sonata’). Also premiering on Saturday is jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer’s ‘For Violin Alone’ and his nominee Morgan Guerin’s ‘Together, but Alone (in Quarantine).’
Upcoming pairings include Andrew Norman and his nominee Katherine Balch, Anjna Swaminathan and Layale Chaker, Missy Mazzoli and Cassie Wieland. Composer Ian Chang will collaborate on a single piece with his nominee, Darian Donovan Thomas.
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‘I thought, I could spend this period of time being scared, curled up in a ball in the corner of the apartment,’ she says. ‘Or I could spend this time only thinking about my own survival. Or I could spend this time and try to help as many people as I can,’ Koh told the Washington Post.
‘Of course, there are things like relief funds. But for me I wanted to offer everyone and these younger composers a space to do what they love to do and what they’ve dedicated their lives to doing.’ She continued: ‘Our brains are jumping around like crazy trying to find some kind of balance and adjustment to this new situation. So what I was also thinking about that length of 30 seconds, it’s about sitting and trying to make your mind steady.’