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Jamie Leigh Sampson
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1. If you could be an active composer in any other time period, when and why?
Maybe early 20th century when it was borderline acceptable for women to be career composers, but in any other time period I wouldn't have the education
2. Dog, cat, or goldfish?
3. Would you rather…live an average life and be forgotten in time or go down in history for something terrible?
Neither of these sound fun! I think I would prefer to go down in history for something terrible that I didn't do. False accusations and conspiracy sounds like my kind of party.
4. You’re trapped on an island. There is one electrical outlet connected to a boombox from 1992. When you were stranded here you only had time to save one cassette out of collection of singles. What is the one pop song you will listen to for the rest of your life?
Sting's Russians... my husband listened to it incessantly for about 6 months so I know I can handle the repetition. It also seems to be cyclically relevant.
5. Who are 3 composers from the past -AND- 3 of your own generation whose music you respect, enjoy, inspires you, etc…
Past: Dmitri Shostakovich, Sofia Gubaidulina, Kaija Saariaho
Present: Jonn Sokol, Amanda Feery, Christopher Chandler
So instead of talking about two different works of Jamie's, her works list present the opportunity to talk about something I am really interested in; thematically related but ultimately independent works by the same composer. However, I would be totally remiss if I did not mention another piece of hers for you to listen.
Please go listen to Cross'd for two soprano saxophones. It was the first piece I ever heard of hers and it is absolutely fantastic.
The Body Electric (2011) for solo soprano, female vocal quartet, and soprano and orchestra. I love this idea and it is something that I am trying out for myself at the moment. I wrote a separate blog post about this earlier. I think it is a great challenge for composers to take something that they have already made, that is already complete, and flesh it out in several different formats. It presents the opportunity for rediscovery. It is not something we usually ask our brains to do. For me, at least, once a piece is done, I stop thinking about it because I am on to the next thing. I don't do much revision of older works, instead preferring to take what I have learned and apply it to a new piece.
This collection of works is amazing. Each presents the material in a completely original way. Writing in several different formats allows the work to have multiple audiences and multiple performance opportunities. I think this is especially true for pieces that exist in orchestral format. They will likely get one performance and that is it (which is another rant altogether). But, because Jamie has two other versions of the work, it doesn't die with that one performance. The ideas and material are so strong. Of the three, I have to say prefer the Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble version. But, I think the orchestral version is wonderful and the solo work is gorgeous in its own way.
How does one repurpose material or add to a work? It must be incredibly difficult (as I am about to find out - my current piece and my next piece will have a very similar relationship that the three pieces here have) to take something in which very careful decisions were made and destroy some of that in order to create the new work. You have to be fearless and believe that the material can withstand the rebuilding process. Jamie's material absolutely shines in each version.
I also have to mention that Jamie is a big reason that I am doing this blog. It came from a conversation that we had about wanting to create community among composers and be more involved with our composer friends and colleagues than just shaking their hand after a concert and saying, "Nice piece" which really means, "I was playing on my phone during your piece and vaguely heard some sounds coming from the stage that I know were yours and if I didn't say something to you after the concert, I'd be a dick, but I don't really have anything constructive or good to say to you about your work...sooo...nice piece."