EARTH Composer Spotlight: Stephanie Ann Boyd / by Andrew Tran

Marking our first collaboration with Stephanie Ann Boyd, ETD is thrilled to be working with her! Before we hear her newest commission this Sunday 9/8 @ 1 pm lets learn a little more about her and her process…

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How long have you been creating music? What type of musical training and eduction did you receive?

I've been composing orchestral and chamber music in earnest since I was 14 but before that, I was making up melodies for myself on the piano so that I would have music to play myself that was wholly my own - this habit came from watching my grandmother play her own piano music on her living room piano every time I would go and visit her, which was quite often as a young child. I began to be heavily involved in youth orchestras as a violinist in middle school and high school and went on a European youth orchestra tour when I was 15 and the next year auditioned into the Michigan Youth Orchestra and the grammy-winning Pioneer High School Orchestra. I was one of the last students of the great violin pedagogue John Kendall (the man who brought the Suzuki method to the United States in the 60s), and he was the first person to see the orchestral works and violin concerto I wrote in high school. I went to Roosevelt University in Chicago for undergrad and New England Conservatory for graduate school, both with degrees in composition, and immediately after receiving my degree from NEC, I moved from Boston to New York City so that I could continue my music making by working with artists of the highest caliber!

When did you start creating work and what was the name of your first work? (feel free to elaborate)

The first baby work I wrote was a little piano piece called "Rain is Falling".... cute, I know. But my first symphony, written at 16, was called "Zeit durch das Jahr" and  my first chamber music piece, written at 17, was called "Fantasia Olora"  for cello + piano (which is at 12 years old still a piece that gets performed every season!)

Which composers inspire you the most and/or what is your favorite piece of music? 

Barber, Mancini, Kenton, Prokofiev, Gubaidulina, Pärt, Corigliano, Zimmer - my favorite piece of music? Tabula Rasa by Pärt, An American in Paris by Gershwin, MacArthur Park by Webb, Lujon by Mancini... there's so much. 

What made you fall in love with music? Can you think of any specific moment in your life that made you realize you loved composing?

When I realized that writing my own orchestral music gave me just as much frisson as playing first violin in Tchaikovsky Symphony finales. 

What is your goal as a composer? Do you want to be a resident composer for dance company? Opera? Theater?  

I want to write meaningful, long-lasting repertoire for all instruments so that the bass trombone and the flute can feel (as much as possible) like they're as represented as the violin or the piano. I want my work to break existing understandings and fears of "new music" so that contemporary music becomes just as mainstream and enjoyable as work in the western cannon written by "dead white dudes". 

Where do you see yourself in ten years as a composer?

You'd have to ask my many journals, spreadsheets, nightmares, and daydreams... 

What have you learned about climate change from this experience? Have you done any research while creating your work that has changed your view on Earth's current state? 

I've been a vegetarian for 29 years so I've always been conscious of the fact that I'm trying to do something even though at times it's been uncomfortable - throughout the research process I saw imagery that was profound and shocking; icebergs going belly up, graphics that showed changes in the earth's constitution over time, warnings about climate change from nearly 100 years ago, and the actual numbers on what being vegetarian can actually do as a starting point for helping the earth heal.

What do you hope the audience takes away from Man Forgets Earth?

Heartbreak. Anger. Understanding the momentum that is behind our current situation, pushing it to a brink we really do not want to be at. 

What do you think of the mission of our EARTH project and how has the process been so for you working as a guest artist? 

It's wonderful to be a part of something that we all have such varied experience on with regards to subject matter. Charting out emotions and trying to see ourselves as the main characters (earth, man) has been really fascinating as we try to sort out what we want this story to mean to us and to our audiences. 

Please RSVP for “Man Forgets Earth” choreography Eryn Renee Young and original score by Stephanie Ann Boyd titled, “IMMEMORY”.

BIO:

Michigan-born American composer Stephanie Ann Boyd (b. 1990) writes melodic music about feminine subject matter and the natural world for symphonic and chamber ensembles. Her work has been performed in nearly all 50 states and has been commissioned by musicians and organizations in 37 countries. Boyd’s five ballets include works choreographed by New York City Ballet principal dancers Lauren Lovette, Ashley Bouder, NYCB soloist Peter Walker, and XOAC Contemporary Ballet’s Eryn Renee Young. Eero, commissioned by Access Contemporary Music and Open House New York, was a ballet written for the grand opening of the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport.

Boyd’s music has been commissioned and performed by concertmasters of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Singapore Symphony, the New York City Ballet Orchestra, the Des Moines Symphony, the Faroe Islands Symphony, the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Smith Symphony, the Arkansas Philharmonic Orchestra, and principal players in the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.  Her music has been played by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the New England Conservatory Philharmonic, the Cape Cod Chamber Orchestra, the New York Jazzharmonic, the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, the Roosevelt University Orchestra, the Eureka Ensemble, the JVL Festival Orchestra, the Texas State University Symphony, the Cremona International Academy Orchestra, the UW La Crosse Symphony, and the El Paso Youth Symphony. Her work has been presented by the Thalia and her Sisters concert series, the Moirae Ensemble, and Sandcastle New Music in New York City, Aepex Contemporary Music in Michigan, Cincinnati Soundbox, Collage New Music and the New Gallery Concert Series in Boston, and others. Stephanie has worked with conductors such as Andrew Litton, Cliff Colnot, Gill Rose, Earl Lee, Nathan Aspinall, Julian Benichou, Kristo Kondakci, Lina Gonzales, and Kevin Fitzgerald.

Boyd has made ballets with New York City Ballet principal dancer Lauren Lovette (Red Spotted Purple commissioned by the Ashley Bouder Project, 2018), New York City Ballet principal dancer Ashley Bouder (Out of the Dust commissioned by NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts, 2019), New York City Ballet soloist Peter Walker (Eero, commissioned by Access Contemporary Music and Open House New York for the grand opening of the TWA Hotel at JFK, 2019), and choreographer Eryn Renee Young (EARTH, commissioned by the Eryc Taylor Dance Company, 2019). Upcoming projects include a ballet choreographed by Abdul Latif for NYU CBA and a ballet for NYC's Satellite Collective.

Recent commissions include a new violin concerto for Kurt Nikkanen and the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra, a ballet for the Ashley Bouder Project, a Mass for women’s choir, soprano solo and orchestra for The Eureka Ensemble, and a piece for the Chicago College of Performing Arts Wind Ensemble. 

Boyd was the 2016-18 Composer in Residence for the Eureka Ensemble in Boston, the 2013/14 Collage New Music Fellow, and has had composition residencies at summer festivals in Italy, Canada, and the US. Boyd has taught composition privately for eight years and her students have been accepted into the music schools at University of Toronto, University of Michigan, Indiana University, UC Boulder, Michigan State University, and others. She is a recipient of the Donald Martino Award for Excellence in Composition and is a two-time recipient of the CCPA Vector Award, and has won numerous grants from the Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy. She holds degrees from Roosevelt University and New England Conservatory (with honors). Boyd was one of the last violin students of renowned pedagogue John Kendall. 

Stephanie’s music has been praised as “[with] ethereal dissonances” (Boston Globe), “[music that] didn’t let itself be eclipsed” (Texas Classical Review), “arrestingly poetic” (BMOP), and “wide ranging, imaginative” (Portland Press Herald). Boyd belongs to the Iceberg New Music Composers Collective. Her catalog is published by TRN Music and FEMOIRE. A critic for American Record Guide and I Care If You Listen, Boyd lives in Manhattan. She is dressed by MILLY for this season’s concerts and events.