Arts Global

26 February 2011

Swiss Global Composer Announces Premieres and New Website

News from Nell Shaw Cohen, Composer
February 25, 2011

Hello and welcome to my first newsletter! I will be sending out occasional mailings with updates about upcoming performances of my music, projects I am involved in, as well as essays on music, the intersection of music and visual art, and related topics. Please contact me with any questions or comments at I would love to hear your feedback! If you would like to opt out, feel free to unsubscribe.

All the best,

Inside this email:
*Upcoming performances
*Video The Faraway Nearby: Georgia O'Keeffe and the New Mexico Landscape
*Essays on Georgia O'Keeffe and Music
*New multimedia portfolio website

Upcoming performances

Duet for flute and bassoon
March 1, 6:00pm
Performed by Linda Husseini, flute, and Andrew Thompson, bassoon
Presented by the Boston Composers Collective
Free admission
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Auditorium, 230 The Fenway, Boston, MA, 02115

Premiere of I Like to Play with Him, for soprano and piano, text by Stevie Smith
Dates in March, April and May TBA
Performed by Kristen Watson, soprano, and Linda Osborn-Blaschke, piano
Presented by WordSong, a new concert format in which one text is presented in multiple, newly composed settings and is the focus of directed conversation among composers, performers, and audience.

Premiere of Watercolors, a wind quintet inspired by the paintings of Charles Burchfield
Winner of the New England Conservatory Honors Ensemble Composition Competition
Performed by Andra Winds
Date in May TBA
Free admission
Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115

The Faraway Nearby
My multimedia video piece, The Faraway Nearby: Georgia O'Keeffe and the New Mexico Landscape, is now available for viewing online at The premiere screening of The Faraway Nearby took place on November 10th, 2010 as part of the Tuesday Night New Music concert series at New England Conservatory, with a live chamber ensemble performing the score. Visit my blog to read more about the performance and recording session, editing, and filming.

About the video
American painter Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) expressed a remarkable vision of New Mexico. The Faraway Nearby is a journey through the places that fed her imagination, from the yellow and red cliffs at Ghost Ranch to the undulating hills of the Black Place. I used video and animation to present my interpretation of what New Mexico might have looked like through O'Keeffe's eyes, and sought to capture the distinctive emotional quality of the landscape in a chamber music score. The visuals and music are closely coordinated in timing, phrasing, development and mood, creating an immersive multimedia experience.

This project funded in part by an Entrepreneurial Grant from New England Conservatory Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department, which enabled me to film on location in New Mexico, edit the video, and record the score in the studio.

I am actively seeking opportunities for future screenings for The Faraway Nearby, either with pre-recorded score or with a live ensemble, especially in gallery and museum settings, film festivals, and new music concerts. Promotional DVDs and press kit are available upon request.

Essays on Georgia O'Keeffe and music

Georgia O'Keeffe's Favorite Music

Once she had permanently settled in New Mexico in the late ’40s, Georgia O’Keeffe had a high-quality McIntosh stereo system installed in a peaceful and spacious room in her Abiquiu home. There she would lay in her favorite lounge chair, gazing beyond a wall-sized window at an elegantly framed salt cedar tree, and absorb recordings with full attention. O’Keeffe collected music of the 18th and 19th centuries – Beethoven, Schumann, Haydn, Bach, etc, and surprisingly to me, a quantity of Monteverdi madrigals, sacred music and operas (including multiple recordings of the opera “The Coronation of Poppea”) – which were relatively obscure at the time she was listening – as well as Verdi and Wagner operas.

Although O’Keeffe is associated with the Modernist and Abstract movements in visual art, it seems natural that her listening tastes reflected the lush, lyrical, conventionally emotive quality of earlier music, rather than the harmonic and rhythmic explorations of the early-mid 20th century. The shapes in her paintings are rounded and flowing, the colors rich, and her paintings are often strikingly passionate and direct in their emotive quality – yet always balanced, elegant, and poignant in simplicity, like a Classical sonata or Romantic Lied. Read the full essay

* * *

Seeing Music in O'Keeffe

O'Keeffe's artwork first grabbed me in 2004, when I saw an exhibit of her paintings at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. I was captivated by the elegant undulating forms in her paintings, and was especially intrigued by her surreal images of magnified animal bones and flowers looming over skies and distant landscapes. A few years later I found myself mining visual art as a source of inspiration in my music, and exploring the idea of creating musical works that acted as an equivalent or a translation of visual experiences. I began imagining a musical language or aesthetic that would relate to O’Keeffe’s visual world. Read the full essay

Launch of multimedia portfolio website

I've posted a new multimedia portfolio at This website serves as a portal for my work beyond music in video and animation, visual art, design, and writing.

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