As a result of the pandemic, Jennifer Koh became one of many musicians who had to postpone scheduled concerts. “My first reaction was panic, because I lost all of my work,” the American violinist told NPR.
In thinking about how the pandemic was affecting the music community, Koh began her own project, inviting friends and colleagues to write new music for solo violin. She performed the first of these pieces on Instagram from her living room in April 2020.
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In addition to collaborating with colleagues who donated their pieces, such as Tania León, Vijay Iyer, Missy Mazzoli, Morgan Guerin, and Nina C. Young, Koh had these artists nominate emerging composers to write for the album. Cassie Wieland and Angélica Negrón were among those nominated and received micro-commissions from Koh's foundation, ARCO Collaborative.
The album itself represents the world premiere of all 39 under-five-minute pieces and is accompanied by a booklet with explanations of each work. According to NPR, Mazzoli stated that the project is “a snapshot not just of the pandemic, but of the musical community right now...all the creativity happening.
“It's not all darkness and gloom and doom and horrors, [but] there's something really beautiful about everyone coming together in this one way,” Mazzoli continued. “And Jenny is just a genius at making those projects happen.”
“It was one of the most beautiful experiences I've had, to be honest, to see how much my community cared about each other, and also about the younger generation and about the art form itself,” said Koh.
To listen and purchase the album, click here.
The album also includes composers Wang Lu, Joungbum Lee, Sarah Gibson, Morgan Guerin, Darian Donovan Thomas, Tonia Ko, Thomas Kotcheff, Adeliia Faizullina, Jen Shyu, Inti Figgis-Vizueta, Ellen Reid, Rajna Swaminathan, Anthony Cheung, Tomás Gueglio-Saccone, Anjna Swaminathan, Layale Chaker, David Serkin Ludwig, Elizabeth Younan, Rafiq Bhatia, Hanna Benn, Katherine Balch, Andrew Norman, Angélica Negrón, Caroline Davis, Nina Shekhar, Qasim Naqvi, Shayna Dunkelman, Du Yun, George Lewis, Lester St. Louis, Sugar Vendil, Patrick Castillo, Vincent Calianno, and Kati Agócs.