Outdoor locations in Washington (and all over the Pacific Coast, for some, like Nat Evans) have proven to be inspiring recording venues for new music. Ancient Lakes and the Dan Harpole Cistern are two such locations that inspired Seattle-based Ewa Trebacz (originally from Kraków, Poland).
Second Inversion’s Album of the Week is a collection of some of Ewa’s finished products which include field recordings from these locations. What makes this album so fascinating is that while much of it was recorded and produced in Poland, there’s a very special part of Washington state incorporated into some of these pieces (things lost things invisible, Errai and ANC’L’SUNR).
Furthermore, this album is part of a special annual project from The Polish Music Information Centre and Polish Composers’ Union to preserve new works and performances by living composers. Each year they publish 10 CDs, featuring a different composer In 2013, Ewa Trebacz one of the chosen composers.
Second Inversion was thrilled to talk to Ewa and Josiah Boothby (French horn collaborator on much of this disc) about each work:
The two have a longstanding friendship, which surely made the collaboration fun, but Ewa says, “Horn is AWESOME for processing or editing. You can almost make any instrument out of the horn sound… you can process it so many ways, create so many timbres, you will never be able to tell it came from the horn.”
On the method of composition, recording, and production, Ewa told us, “our method of work is somewhat like film production. We basically travel from one place to another and then later I create some basic shape of the piece that’s kind like a labyrinth of spaces. Later, in the concert performance the electronic part is reproduced by a surround speaker system at the same time the live performers bring the element of ‘here and now.’ Josiah ends up playing with himself from the past and at the same time creating the very direct
interaction of where the performance takes place.”
The Dan Harpole Cistern at Ford Worden is a large underground space with a 45-second reverberation time. Ewa recorded several musicians in this space to be used later in live performance. What’s it like to play an instrument in the Cistern? Josiah says, “It’s other worldly down there!… so often when we’re performing this difficult music by living composers, it’s hard. As a performer for me in that piece (things lost things invisible), I got to go into a resonant space, make big noises, and I got told, you know, do something a little less this way or a little more this way.. it was a lot of fun!”
Errai was another piece with samples (Josiah on horn and Anna Niedzwiedz, voice) recorded in the Cistern. Josiah goes on to say, “in a space that’s resonant enough to still sound while I’m playing another note, all of a sudden I can play chords with myself. Anna and I were not only playing with each other, we were playing with ourselves and there were several of us, simultaneously, and this is before Ewa starts doing anything with the electronics.”
Recordings from ANC’L’SUNR came from multiple locations, including the Cistern and also another Washington location, Ancient Lakes. What’s with the title? Ewa explains, “Funny thing, everyone keeps asking me what the language is, or what it means… but really, it’s an abbreviation for places where I made recordings. So, the word itself doesn’t really mean anything, but I think it’s inspiring.” This piece was produced with ATK, a software package developed by Juan Pampin, Joshua Parmenter, and Joseph Anderson at the UW DXARTS which preserves as much spatial relation in sounds as possible.
Ewa holds Masters Degrees in Composition, Computer Science and Econometrics and a PhD from the University of Washington’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS) , where she currently works as a Research Scientist.