Composer Spotlight: Conrad Winslow and Circles and Lines
Conrad Winslow has been working with members of Cadillac Moon Ensemble since his time at NYU hanging out with Patti and Sean in 2008. After having Patti play violin on his master’s recital and a couple productions of the rave-reviewed 2010 off-broadway musical musical named Camp Wanatachi and writing a piece for Sean’s percussion duo Noisebox, we decided it would be awesome to commission a piece from Conrad for our Set in Motion series. Since commissioning Abiding Shapes in 2012, we’ve performed it several times in New York City and also in Portland, Maine!
The really great thing about writing for friends is that you feel less awful when you overshoot. I turned in a percussion part that required Lord Shiva arms, but I told Sean that I was aiming for a multicolored array that I knew would require some tailoring. So Sean worked with me to make it fit his (two) hands and his foot, cutting and adapting bits to suit the passages best. Roberta, Patti, and Meaghan, too, let me mold their parts through rehearsal.
Cadillac Moon Ensemble totally gets the need for revision (thank God) and their resulting commissions are better for it. Most commissioning ensembles expect bespoke work, but fewer understand how much of their effort—and how much revision by the composer—is required to get fitted for their pieces. When it happens it is the best thing. Cadillac is sounding glorious, and it’s been immensely gratifying to watch my piece, Abiding Shapes, develop over several performances into something more polished, more taut, and more beautiful than I thought that I had at the première.