My guest is eco-minimalist composer and violinist Wendy Reid. Wendy has been working for over 30 years on her unique body of “Tree Pieces”, which define a music based on natural processes. She also works with birds whom she regards as authentic musical collaborators.
There’s a point in the life of most artists when they reach what might be called their ‘mature phase’, when outside influence becomes less important to them than the internal dynamic unfolding in their own work. Today’s guest Wendy Reid in some ways seems to be one who reached that point very young.
In her youth she underwent a serious and extensive academic education in composition, including some years in Paris studying with the legendary Nadia Boulanger, teacher of countless other distinguished composers, from Aaron Copland to Eliot Carter, Quincy Jones to Phillip Glass. And Wendy immersed herself also in computer and electronic music at Stanford, and thoroughly absorbed in her studies the innovations of Bartok and Berio, Messaien and Stockhausen.
But as soon as her student period ended, she embarked on a series of chamber compositions she calls tree pieces – now, after some thirty years standing at #62 and counting – which all follow what appears to be a severely restricted identical plan based on a unique notation and structural metaphor of trees, branches and cell growth.
In fact, what she has developed is a rich and focused musical language which offers her freedom in building a world of quiet and naturalistic soundscapes of great variety. And along the way, she has developed unprecedented deep collaborations with the other, perhaps greater musical beings on our planet: the birds, living and working musically with birds, not as trained novelties, or as generators of snippets to be copied, but as full improvisational co-collaborators.
I spoke with her in her apartment and studio in Berkeley, where she teaches violin and lives with her daughter, her parrot LuLu and parrotlet SHU-SHU.
See Wendy’s website at http://treepieces.net for information on her CD releases and other recordings and score images.