Who is Missy Mazzoli? | Classical music


Who is Missy Mazzoli?

Missy Mazzoli is an American composer and pianist who defies boundaries, writing music for just about every medium under the sun: opera, orchestra, chamber ensemble, film, television and her own group, Victoire. You name it, she probably wrote for it, and did it in style, considering her resume includes a composer residency with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and that she was recently named Musical America’s 2022 Composer of the Year.

How would you describe his music?

A propulsive hybrid, classical and electronic, with elements of jazz and minimalism, and as much indebtedness to Beethoven as for Mazzoli’s contemporary composer heroes, Meredith Monk, John Luther Adams and David Lang. If that doesn’t sound very definitive, it’s because Mazzoli is impossible to categorize and has stated that his ideal listener wouldn’t know anything about his music so he doesn’t have a preconceived idea of ​​what it should be about. based. Labels. But if there was one word to sum up his music, it would be “dramatic”. So dramatically compelling, in fact, that in 2018 Mazzoli, along with composer Jeanine Tesori, became the first woman to be commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera.

How did she come to compose?

Growing up in a non-musical family in a quiet Pennsylvania neighborhood, Mazzoli — who is of Polish-Italian descent — discovered classical music through public television and the local library. She began writing her own music at the age of ten, first inspired by her love of popular classics such as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Barber’s Adagio for Strings, then by her explorations into the world of contemporary classical music. She then obtained a master’s degree at the Yale School of Music, where she studied under composers such as David Lang, Louis Andriessen and Aaron Jay Kernis, among others.

What work is she best known for?

Probably his three operas: song of the tumultbased on the life of Swiss explorer and writer Isabelle Eberhardt who traveled extensively through North Africa dressed as a man; Break the waves, about a woman in the Scottish Highlands caught between the demands of her husband, her family and the imposing presence of the Calvinist church; and To prove himself, based on Karen Russell’s ghost story set on the 19th century prairie. Mazzoli has described opera writing as her musical destiny and admits that even in her instrumental music she likes to think of instruments as characters.

Where am I likely to have heard his music, apart from the opera house or the concert hall?

You may have heard his work on the hit series Mozart in the Junglefor which she wrote and performed several songs.

What topics is she interested in?

Mazzoli often centers his work around strong female characters. Co-founder of Luna Composition Lab, a mentorship program that focuses on developing the next generation of female, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming composers, she speaks openly about the position of women in contemporary classical composition.

Anything else I should know?

She is currently training to become a certified death doula – someone who provides support to dying people and their families.

Where can I hear it working next?

At BBC Promson Sunday, August 14, when the Philharmonic Orchestra performs his new violin concerto, “Procession”, under the direction of his new musical director Santtu Matias Rouvali.

Photo: Getty


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