What Inspired the 2022–23 Fellows’ World Premieres?

We asked our 2022–23 fellows—Hannah Chen, Lucy Chen, Lili Masoudi, Gabrielle Smith, Elaina Stuppler, and Isabelle Tseng—what inspired the pieces they have been working on with their mentors this year. Read on to see where they each found inspiration and hear the world premieres live on June 10.

What inspired you to write your new piece?

Hannah Chen: My biggest goal going into this program was to experiment and utilize aleatoric notation combined with traditional notation elements. My piece features different aleatoric sections that represent past, present and future. It is inspired by the natural progression of time and how time can feel in different stages of my life.

Lucy Chen: My piece is inspired by the imminent passage of time. As a high school senior, I have a new epiphany of “wow, time really is flying” every few hours. I started this piece when I was seventeen, a special age on the edge of adulthood but still very much a child. The age of seventeen is also highly romanticized in literature, music, and film, so I thought I would document this year of my life while giving an ode to my childhood-self with my piece titled Seventeen.

Lili Masoudi: My piece explores the idea of zeroing in on one small segment of a time and sound continuum. Rather than think of my composition as a seven-minute piece from start to finish, I thought of it as one audible portion of a much longer, invisible piece. I wanted to keep the textures very sparse and quiet in order to enhance the idea that there is a layer of the piece the audience isn’t hearing. Additionally, the piece was my first time experimenting with graphic/non-standard notation, and it is entirely aleatoric.

Gabrielle Smith: My synesthesia has inspired me in the piece I’m working on for Luna Lab. It’s a seven minute piece for flute, clarinet, violin, and cello and it’s made up of different sections based on the lifecycle of a star. I’ve been using different techniques to try and immerse the listener in a metaphorical wash of color and light that’s similar to the physical and literal wash of color and light that I experience when I listen to music.

Elaina Stuppler: My composition is named “Waluga,” after my neighborhood park. Rain or shine, I walk, run, or bike there, finding inspiration in the symphony of frogs and howling wild peacocks. “Waluga” features the sounds of rain in the strings and winds, the dancing rhythms of the sun, and the peaceful ambiance of a cloudy day, represented by a laid-back walking bass line on the cello.

Isabelle Tseng: The piece I’ll be presenting is called “Bumbershoot” and it’s about the perspective of someone experiencing weather, rain or shine, under an umbrella. This is inspired by the unpredictable temperament of Florida weather and it contains a lot of elements imitating rain and the blazing, unrelenting sun, or even the swirling air itself in the whooshing of wind.