In Scott Lindroth’s New Musical Work “T120,” the Extraordinary Meets the Mundane
Professor of music Scott Lindroth, whose new work ”T120” will premiere this Saturday, Oct 9 in Baldwin Auditorium, shares his thoughts on music-making during the pandemic and the long-awaited return to live, in-person performances. “I think it's heightened emotions for all of us in the performing arts to be able to be back on stage again, realizing how special that ritual is,” he shares.
A premiere in the time of a pandemic presents a possibility of intensified anticipation. Scott Lindroth, whose new work “T120” will be introduced to the public in a performance in Baldwin Auditorium on October 9 at 8pm, says he realizes now more than ever how precious it is to gather to experience a work of art together.
“I think it’s heightened emotions for all of us in the performing arts to be able to be back on stage again, realizing how special that ritual is,” said Lindroth, professor of music at Duke. “And when that’s been taken away from you, you realize how marvelous and important it is to be able to come together and have this shared experience.”
Lindroth’s “T120” will be performed by the Horszowski Trio, along with music graduate student Ryan Harrison’s “For Vera” (also a premiere), and Robert Schumann’s “Trio No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 63.” Lindroth is thrilled to have his piece in the capable hands of the Horszowski Trio, whose work has been described as “lithe, persuasive” (The New York Times), and “eloquent and enthralling” (The Boston Globe). He met the trio in the course of another premiere in New Hampshire, where his colleagues Jonathan Bagg, professor of the practice of music at Duke, and Laura Gilbert presented a new work by him in their concert series, Electric Earth Concerts.
“I think it’s heightened emotions for all of us in the performing arts to be able to be back on stage again, realizing how special that ritual is.”
“I mentioned a book I had been reading by Richard Powers, Orfeo, and Laura said, ‘Oh, I know him.’ That led to a project involving Powers and the book. And the Horszowski Trio were part of the ensemble for that performance. That piece came out really well so I spoke to the members of the trio later and asked if they would be interested in performing a piece I wrote for them, and they said yes. So we applied for funding, the funding came through, and that’s the piece that is culminating now.”
Since their meeting Lindroth in New Hampshire, the Horszowski Trio were artists-in-residence on campus in 2019-2020 and continued their work with Duke students in a virtual residency last year. And while they are here for the premiere, they will present masterclasses for music students.
In his program notes, Lindroth writes that “T120” is cast in two movements. “The first is inspired by the experience of forward motion, sometimes at high speeds, through a variety of terrains, surfaces, and weather conditions,” Lindroth said. “When conditions are right, I experience exhilaration, serenity, lightness of spirit, and indescribable well-being. The second movement follows without pause, and it points to entirely different expressive ends — a meditation on personal losses that have taken place in recent years.”
Lindroth wanted to explore the collision of daily life with difficult external events. “We have our everyday life with things we are preoccupied with and working on, and there are ups and downs, but we’re making progress. And then something happens from the outside and it changes your whole perspective, taking you out of that mundane pattern,” he said.
“Elements come up in the second part that happen in the first movement but are re-contextualized,” he continued. “Something that has an identity in one setting can have a completely different identity from this new perspective, and I love this about music — that the same notes can be multivalent, completely different, depending on the context. I find that really exciting and valuable and powerful. This music is an attempt to take things that happened in the mundane and put them in this new context and observe how they change.”
“This music is an attempt to take things that happened in the mundane and put them in this new context and observe how they change.”
As Lindroth starts the rehearsal process with the trio, he anticipates a wide range of emotions. “There are so many different lines of concern that I will be going through. Part of it is this quick transition from the intensely private world of composing to the social world of collaborating.”
“It’s interesting that this process has been the same trajectory as the pandemic,” Lindroth said. “As I emerge from isolation, my new work is also emerging, and it will be something we finally share with a public audience.” And it is an audience that is no doubt hungry for public experiences.
“I’m really getting excited, and working with these incredible musicians, I will get to experience the whole aspect of interpersonal relationships that happens among musicians,” Lindroth continued. “I love how that nourishes us and how we all grow together as musicians through the whole project. You have this private dimension of the personal where you’re trying to bring it into shape, but then that’s all mediated through this web of collaboration and sympathy and respect. And that is so much a part of the performing arts that contributes to the satisfaction of a project like this, aside from what I managed to do with the piece itself.”