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Composer Zosha di Castri Zooms to the Head of the Class

September 10, 2013

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 featured and reviewed classical, jazz, rock, and world musics and other entertainment for the San Francisco Chronicle and a host of other regional, national, international, and web-based publications. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, and is the author of I Want to Take You Higher: The Life and Times of Sly & the Family Stone (Backbeat Books) and numerous textbook and encyclopedia entries, album liner notes, and festival program notes.