Cassandra Miller’s music has been described by Alex Ross as ‘immensely beautiful and immensely haunting’, and by The Observer as ‘generous, engaging and unlike any other music’. Her Duet for Cello and Orchestra was hailed by The Guardian as one of the ‘finest classical music works of the 21st century’.
Cassandra Miller is a Canadian composer based in London. Her written works explore transcription as a creative process and automatic singing as compositional material. La Donna was commissioned by L’Auditori for the OBC.
LA-OBC-002 | RELEASE DATE: 27 January 2023
A significant part of Cassandra Miller’s compositional output has emerged from her analysis of sound recordings and their subsequent reinterpretation, editing and orchestration in the context of acoustic instrumentation. Indeed, the composer has made a place for herself on today’s international scene through a particular historical revisionism full of musical features from the past. Miller uses these topoi to create an aesthetic immersed in nostalgia, satire, criticism, and the investigation of surprising forms of expression. Thus, the composer uses specific elements from historical recordings of other music from the perspective of the ‘found object’ and its subsequent potential transformations.
La Donna is a paradigmatic example of this compositional process. In this case, Miller used a transcription of the song La Partenza da Parigi, recorded by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax in 1954. This piece is an example of the popular trallalero style, typical of the Italian city of Genoa. The trallalero is recognised as a musical form sung mainly by men, usually in nine voices: five are basses, two imitate the sound of the guitars, one sings the melody while leading the group, and the highest voice sings with a pronounced and rich falsetto. This last voice is sometimes referred to as la donna.
In La Donna, Miller orchestrates this phonographic reference in such a way that the playback speed of the recording is changeable. Specifically, the composer seeks to create the sensation of zoom in; that is, to stretch the playback time so that she can get closer to the resulting sound and perceive the level of detail of the different vibratos and falsettos of the voices. The result of this creative process moves between orchestral sections, in which the melodies and accompaniments of the trallalero are perfectly recognisable, and fragments in which the zoom is so extreme that we can only perceive the harmonic series and the partials of a given note.
Joan Arnau Pàmies, compositor
Born in Canada in 1976, Cassandra Miller holds a PhD from the University of Huddersfield (UK).
Miller enjoys regular and collaborative work with performers such as Juliet Fraser, Quatuor Bozzini, conductor Ilan Volkov, cellist Charles Curtis, pianist Philip Thomas, violinists Silvia Tarozzi and Mira Benjamin, and violist Lawrence Power. Her works have also been performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the OBC, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, EXAUDI, London Sinfonietta, I Musici de Montréal, the Plus-Minus Ensemble, Ensemble Kore, Apartment House, Continuum Contemporary Music, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; at festivals, cycles and venues such as Monday Evening Concerts, Tectonics Glasgow, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, L’Auditori, Angeliza Festival, Archipel, Only Connect Oslo, Ostrava Days and World Music Days, among others.
She has lectured on her work at Stanford University, New York’s Columbia University, CalArts, Royal Academy of Music, Bath Spa University, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Huddersfield Centre for Research in New Music, Brunel University London, and McGill University, to name just a few. Cassandra Miller is a professor of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London.
OBC BARCELONA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
FIRST VIOLINS: Jaha Lee, Joan Espina, Sarah Bels, Walter Ebenberger, Ana Galán, María Pilar Pérez, Ana Kovacevic, Neus Navarrete, Laura Pastor, Francesc Puche, Aria Trigas, Yulia Tsuranova | SECOND VIOLINS: Emil Bolozan, Maria José Balaguer, Jana Brauninger, Mireia Llorens, Melita Murgea, Paula Banciu, Mar Miñana, Ariana Oroño, Oleksandr Sora | VIOLAS: Benjamin Beck, Christine de Lacoste, David Derrico, Sophie Lasnet, Adrià Trulls, Celia Libertad Eliaz, Javier López, Johan Rondón | CELLOS: Charles-Antoine Archambault, José Mor, Lourdes Duñó, Jean-Baptiste Texier, Irene Cervera, Yoobin Chung | DOUBLE BASSES: Christoph Rahn, Dmitry Smyshlyaev, Albert Prat, Salvador Morera | FLUTES: Sara Ureña, Ricardo Borrull | OBOES: Raquel Pérez-Juana, José Juan Pardo | CLARINETS: Larry Passin, Lluís Casanova | BASOONS: Thomas Greaves, Slawomir Krysmalski – contrabagot | FRENCH HORNS: Juan Conrado García, Pablo Marzal | TRUMPETS: Adrián Moscardo, Miguel Herráez | TROMBONES: Eusebio Sáez, Carlos Fluixà, Miquel Sàez – BASS TROMBONE | LIBRARIAN: Begoña Pérez | TECHNICAL COORDINATOR: Ignasi Valero | STAGE MANAGER: Luis Hernández | PLANNING DIRECTOR: Joan Cortés
PHOTOS May Zircus | SOUND ASSISTANT Toni Vila | MUSIC PRODUCTION AND SOUND Sylvain Cadars | GRAPHIC DESIGN Lorena Alonso Noblom | EDITORIAL DIRECTION Santi Barguñó
Album recorded in January 2021 in L’Auditori de Barcelona.