September 10, 2013

Composer Zosha di Castri Zooms to the Head of the Class

By Jeff Kaliss

Canadian composer Zosha di Castri likes having multiple addresses. (She has bounced between Edmonton, Montreal, New York, and Paris.) She’s also open to a wide variety of possibilities in her music. The first recipient of a New Voices commission, a program conceived by Michael Tilson Thomas, in collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony, the New World Symphony Orchestra, and publishing house Boosey and Hawkes, di Castri has moved from up-and-comer to hot property in one bound. In this interview with SFCV senior contributor Jeff Kaliss, the 28-year-old composer reveals some of her musical stimuli, what it’s like to work with an orchestra, and gives a sneak peak at the next part of her commission.

Video 1: Lineages

Although the title came last, there is a connection between the music for di Castri’s first New Voices commission and her background. As she explains to Jeff, this is a piece getting in touch with the Ukrainian half of her background.

Video by Beth Hondl

Video 2: Working with MTT

Is it a big deal coming to work with a world-class orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas? Sure, but once you get into the music, it’s another day at the office.

Video by Beth Hondl

Video 3: … And the Kitchen Sink: Writing for Percussion

For the second part of her commission, Zosha is writing a percussion piece. True to the saying that anything can be a percussion instrument, she tells Jeff how she began appropriating her mother’s kitchen utensils and pots.

Video by Beth Hondl

Jeff Kaliss has written about opera and other classical forms for the Marin Independent-Journal and The Oakland Tribune. He is based in San Francisco, and also covers jazz, world music, country, rock, film, theater, and other entertainment. The second edition of his authorized biography of Sly & the Family Stone was published by Backbeat Books.