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Working Remotely with Katherine Young

"When does music happen if it's online?" For the past year, Katherine Young, like many other composers and musicians, has been wondering about the "liveness" of music when it cannot happen in a single physical space—but rather is fostered in multiple virtual spaces, often well beyond the moment of its performance. As an improviser as well as a composer, Young is attuned to the relational dynamics of music in real time, and her music, improvised, collaborated, and composed, often explores these dynamics in striking ways. During the past year, Young has explored many different modalities of working remotely that seek out new possibilities for asynchronous collaboration with fellow performers, commissioners, and ensembles. 

Although Young hasn't played music in person since March 2020, she has performed several streaming concerts—although, as she notes, the technology changes all the time. Several projects on which Young has been working for years have continued to evolve in the new landscape—often, Young notes, with surprising new possibilities afforded by working online. One example of this is Young's contribution to Long Beach Opera's "2020 Songbook" project, for which she composed a song that sets poetry by Chicago-based poet A. Martinez. Working on this project allowed Young to connect with many of the other composers who were also commissioned—a sense of virtual presence and community that Young says would not otherwise be possible for people so physically distant from each other. 

Young has also continued to work with violinist Olivia di Prato on her "I, A.M. – Artist Mother" project, in which di Prato has commissioned fellow artists who are also mothers to make improvisations and compositions that explore motherhood. Young says that unlike a traditional commission, for this work she has been receiving field recordings with di Prato, creating sequences in DAW software, and sending them back to di Prato to add more layers; working in this remote epistolary fashion, Young has created both a written score and fixed electronics. 

Young has also been working remotely with the saxophonist Patrick Statler on a new solo work for saxophone and electronics, commissioned with support from the Goethe Institut. For this work, Young and Statler have been working on a collaborative project in the DAW software Reaper, sharing audio files, arrangements, and other ideas back and forth. Young is also working on solo works for piano and accordion—possibly all of which could become a collection of solo works, or an ensemble piece for similar instrumentation. 

Young is also planning on a new kind of "live" performance that maintains social distance through the windows and speakers of a gallery in Chicago. For several years, Young has been developing a collaborative installation and improvisation performance, BoundaryMind, with violinist Linda Jankowska; it was set to premiere in May 2020 at Chicago's 6018 North. While the full performance will eventually happen once social distancing is not necessary, Young says that BoundaryMind will see a modified performance at Chicago's Roman Susan gallery, with visuals displayed in the gallery's window, and sound coming from speakers facing the street. 

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