Missy MazzoliSinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres)
“For me, originality means listening to oneself. It’s not a rejection of external influences, and in fact is quite the opposite: it’s a practice of keeping an open mind to all influences, both musical and non-musical.”
Young and prominent US composer Missy Mazzoli, resident in New York, testifies to her above quote in her music, which combines elements from various styles and genres but blends them into an integrated, original synthesis. In her work, we may find post-Minimalist features coloured with inputs from indie rock, or equally well from Baroque music. The most extensive works in Mazzoli’s output are her three operas. In 2018, she became the first woman composer to be commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in New York. This new opera is scheduled to be premiered in the next few years.
Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) (2014/2016) was written to a commission from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and its premiere was conducted by John Adams in April 2014. The title alludes not to the symphonic genre of orchestral music but to a genre of Baroque music and also to the ancient Italian term for a hurdy-gurdy – hence the spelling ‘sinfonia’ rather than ‘symphony’. The latter part of the title refers to celestial bodies.
Mazzoli has said that this piece is “...music in the shape of a solar system, a collection of Rococo loops that twist around each other within a larger orbit.” The end result is a structure of slowly evolving layers of sound floating in a weightless musical space. Towards the middle, progressively more intense motifs emerge, recalling Baroque ornaments, but eventually the music again subsides to explore the vastness of the universe. The orchestra is expanded beyond the conventional with the addition of a synthesiser emulating the sound of an organ, harmonicas and a tape recording played at the end.