Composer Julia Wolfe’s Big Beautiful Dark and Scary was written in response to her experience witnessing the 9-11 tragedy, standing two blocks away from the Twin Towers as the planes hit them along with her two young children. The piece was written in 2002 for amplified sextet: clarinet, bass clarinet, percussion, piano, electric guitar, cello and double bass. Gargantuan slabs of tone clusters hover and fuss, then begin their brutal climb, ascending in pitch, intensity and volume.
Wolfe’s work exists between different stylistic musical worlds; classical instruments and their sonorities are turbo-charged through amplification and are combined with electric guitars, toy pianos, tape, and in one occasion bagpipes. Repetitive patterns ala minimalism are infused with the forward propulsion of rock, motivic lines are stripped of ornamentation but are swollen with tonal girth, often climbing and aspiring to feverish, ecstactic plateaus of climax.
Wolfe has been widely recognized, having been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2015 along with the Herb Alpert Award. In September 2016 she was named a MacArthur fellow. Julia is also a co-founder and artistic director of Bang On A Can and is also a Professor of Music Composition and New York University.
links: (juliawolfemusic.com), (bangonacan.org)