Composer Spotlight: Noam Faingold and Circles and Lines
Composer, performer and conductor Noam Faingold of Circles and Lines joins us in our interviews all the way from London, where he is currently pursuing his doctorate at King’s College. Before traveling to London, Noam attended New York University for his masters’ degree and was an active compositional force in the NYU community, where he met the rest of Circles and Lines. Noam was also Patti’s roommate in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn while at NYU, a year hallmarked by long rides on the F train from rehearsals, 3AM work sessions in front of the television, loud neighbors upstairs, retaliatory late-night practice sessions, and very spicy chili. Noam still visits NYC during his school breaks; when he arrives, celebration ensues
Noam began working with Cadillac Moon when we programmed his duet “Knife in the Water” for an April Fools’ Day concert at Vaudeville Park – the duo was performed by Patti and former CME cellist Mike Midlarsky, with most rehearsals held over Skype. Noam describes his experience of rehearsals held while abroad:
I first worked with Cadillac Moon Ensemble when they performed my violin/cello duet “Knife in the Water.” This was when cellist Mike Midlarsky was in the group, and that was especially personally meaningful to me because both he and Patti are also in my rock orchestra and have been playing my concert and orchestral pop chamber music for a few years now.
That piece is pretty tough, mainly because the violinist who commissioned it, Dennis Kim (concertmaster of Tampere Philharmonic in Finland) asked for a showpiece to really get the audience going. I always felt the virtuosic violin repertoire was mostly showy technique-wise and lacked any real sense of development or content interest, so i I chose to interpret the parameters he gave me as an opportunity to write a piece that was maybe overly-heavily connected in its musical ideas. I also decided i should really make him work, so when I wrote it, It never occurred to me being a bit of a jerk might some day come back around to bite into my friends. Then it came time for Patti and Mike to get their hands on it.
I remember having our first rehearsal on the piece by Skype. I was at King’s College London during the school performance of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” sitting in the cafeteria/common area, right outside the beautiful King’s chapel when we started. During most of our rehearsal I was alone, with my headphones on, rehearsing and exchanging crass inside jokes with the duo across the Atlantic. Meanwhile the opera was going on, echoing not too far away, but not enough to be distracting. During intermission however, everyone came out and Patti, Mike and I were discussing the piece and they were still playing through it a bit. Naturally I adjusted the tone of our conversation to account for all the elderly audience members streaming out of the chapel at intermission. With my headphones on I was a little worried they opera’s audience members, also consisting of some of my schoolmates, might misinterpret the one side of our conversation coming from my end as a bout of Tourette’s, so the tone of the conversation adjusted with it.
I think that might have been the first real Skype rehearsal I had ever had. It was nice that it was happening with players who knew my music so well, and with whose playing style I was also familiar. I was later able to come to NYC and to have some more rehearsals in person, but I’m glad that my first Skype experience was with musicians I trust and with whom I am comfortable enough that misunderstanding could be limited, especially with the chaos of the opera next to me.
Another memorable aspect of working this piece with CME was that, much like in Dennis’ performance of the piece, and a few other performances, the page turning element became quite a spectacle. In both of these performances, huge chunks of the piece had to be taped together, maybe 6 pages at a time, with some extra creative cutting. Dennis glued his to a huge poster board, with 6 pages on each side. The arts and crafts element arose because the violin and cello lines were so interconnected that each player had to see the other’s part to react to it for most of the piece. Patti has pictures. After several revisions of the piece, and careful page turn considerations, I’ve finally turned it into a much more manageable piece, perhaps removing, if not at least greatly reducing any virtuosic elements that arose just from the piece existing on paper. I can’t wait to start working on the newly revised version with Patti and CME’s current cellist Meaghan, to see whether they also feel that the piece’s effect has grown as a result. We’ll pretend this is the work’s Bar Mitzvah, and it has finally come of age.