ZigZags (January 2015)

“Hersey really shows off her versatility and mastery of the instrument…quite fascinating to hear the swirling textures, tuba riffs and pedal notes…quite different from what we would call mainstream tuba recordings. The original tuba and electronics work, a major unaccompanied tuba work all juxtaposed with Hildegard von Bingen, herself a musical visionary, sets this recording apart from anything else. Brava!” Mark Nelson, ITEA Journal

Click on this link to read the full ITEA review for this album By Dr. Mark Nelson: Hersey ITEA Album Review- Zigzags

Joanna Ross Hersey’s second solo album, Zigzags, features four new compositions, co-composed with electronic musician and husband William Bendrot, which place the tuba and euphonium in an electronic music setting featuring collaboration through both composition and improvisation. The opening piece, Tether, is somewhat sparse, with a slow, moody, rock influence, based on futuristic cyberpunk anime compositional imagery, such as Ghost in the Shell. This track features spoken word using text from several Emily Dickinson poems.Shatterdome was inspired by the drama in film writing at climactic moments when good and evil collide and dark forces are at work, utilizing low resonances and a focus on brass. One is upbeat, and incorporates brighter harmonies in fast-paced rhythmic development.Kakera, the Japanese word for a small piece or fragment, uses the tuba in the pedal register in combination with faster bass lines.

Three other works round out the album, including the title track, composed in 1988, a ten minute unaccompanied tuba solo by New York composer Faye-Ellen Silverman. The work showcases extreme register, set in a wide variety of tempo and mood, and utilizes extended techniques such as multi-phonics and flutter tonguing. The album also contains a new arrangement by Joanna of the music of Hildegard von Bingen, as well as a solo for unaccompanied tuba, entitled Convent Window, composed for this album. Joanna’s first solo tuba composition, Convent Window envisions the composer Hildegard von Bingen pausing for a moment of calm reflection at her window. The work utilizes the resonant, lower register of the instrument.

Click on this link to read the full ITEA review for this album By Dr. Mark Nelson: Hersey ITEA Album Review- Zigzags

Joanna’s first solo album O quam mirabilis was released in 2010, and she can also be heard on the Alchemy Tuba Euphonium Quartet’s two previous albums, Village Dances and Prelude and Groove. All of Joanna’s recordings are available from Bandcamp, Soundcloud, iTunes, and through Joanna at Follow Joanna on Facebook and Twitter, @JoannaHersey.

O quam mirabilis (2010)

The music on this recording spans nine hundred years of music composition, representing the rich, vibrant history of women in the field of music composition. From the mystic and otherworldly echos of Hildegard von Bingen’s Medieval church music, to the modern concertos being composed today, music by women deserves more of a place in the classical repertoire.

When programming, we all too often think of Galliard but not Francesca Caccini, of Brahms but not Clara Schumann, of Shostakovich but not Alma Mahler. The music of O quam mirabilis will transport the listener from the Medici court in Florence, Italy to the modern American southwest and beyond. Seung-Ah Kim’s brilliant piano collaboration brings energy and spirit to performances of German lieder by Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn and Alma Mahler, as well as modern concertos by Nadia Boulanger and Libby Larsen.

In addition to solo tuba music, the album features two new works I have arranged for tuba euphonium quartet. The final piece on this recording features tuba, guitar and synthesizer in an electronic setting, and was co-composed with my husband, electronic musician William Bendrot.

Joanna with Alchemy

Alchemy – Prelude and Groove (2012)