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This Is How Canadian Composer Stacey Brown Found Inspiration For Her Work, Perspectives

A sculpture created by her composition teacher inspired Stacey Brown’s work for orchestra, which explores the way we experience art and life. As the composer suggests, it’s all a matter of perspective.

On Sunday, September 12th at 1 PM on WRTI 90.1, and Monday, September 13th at 7 PM on WRTI HD-2, listen to The Philadelphia Orchestra perform the U.S. premiere of Stacey Brown’s Perspectives.

The sculpture by Michel Longtin is a 4 x 4 foot block of wood, painted cobalt blue, on the surface of which are smaller multicolored blocks in different shapes and sizes. 

Composer Stacey Brown

"And so if you were standing in front of the sculpture, what you actually see is something that is very square," says composer Stacey Brown.  "But if you start moving around, you realize that there's actually this incredibly flowing wave form that these blocks of wood create."

In her work for orchestra, Brown wanted to recreate that feeling of changing perspectives, using sharp and rhythmic sections as well as flowing, undulating lines, and a sense of continuity.

"The idea that you're working with the same object, no matter what angle you're looking at it from.  And so that, for me, was taking some little musical motifs, reusing them in different orchestrations, different registers, different instrument families; moving them around the orchestra, the way that a person would move around a sculpture."

Listen to Susan Lewis' backstage interview with composer Stacey Brown after a performance of her work, Perspectives, by The Philadelphia Orchestra.

As a language without words, music can open minds to different ideas; sometimes we forget, she says, that spoken language can also be interpreted different ways.

"Sometimes our first impression isn't actually what's happening at all!  And so if we all took a little step back and listen to people's words the way we listened to music, we might actually understand each other better." 

A commission by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain, Stacey Brown’s Perspectives premiered in 2017 in Montreal.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.