House Music Ep 75: Emily Smith

Ten years ago, violinist Emily Smith was a Master’s student at The Juilliard School first learning about the composer Kaija Saariaho. She was immediately intrigued with Saariaho’s work: The composer is a purveyor of the spectralist style, which emerged in…

House Music Ep 75: Emily Smith

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Ten years ago, violinist Emily Smith was a Master’s student at The Juilliard School first learning about the composer Kaija Saariaho. She was immediately intrigued with Saariaho’s work: The composer is a purveyor of the spectralist style, which emerged in the 1970s and centers the timbre of sound. It’s a subtle, whispering type of music that funnels emotion through the wavelike motion of sound. Here, Smith plays one of her favorite works by Saariaho, Nocturne for solo violin.

Smith also began performing with Metropolis Ensemble ten years ago. Her first concert, Home Stretch, featured premieres by a slew of composers including Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms, which Smith has performed a couple of times since that evening. Yet, she recalls her performance with Metropolis well, remembering how much she loves Clyne’s work and performing with the ensemble.

Nocturne holds particular sentimental value for Smith: Once she fell in love with Saariaho’s music as a student, she decided to give a lecture for her doctoral degree about Saariaho’s violin concerto, Graal Théâtre, which is based off of material from Nocturne. What Smith finds most compelling about Saariaho’s music is her ability to play with time. Her work explores the ways that time moves both incredibly slow and non-linearly; these concepts pair well with our time of isolation, in which our perception of time has been similarly warped. — Vanessa Ague

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