This is the Moment: Anna Clyne on Becoming a Composer

Composing music is just something I’ve
always loved to do. But I do think I have a defining moment where I knew that I am
a composer and this is the way that I am most comfortable expressing myself. And
it came out quite a sad situation which is my mother passed away very
unexpectedly and suddenly back in 2008. This is the moment I knew I am a
composer. I was writing a commission for the LA Phil, a piece for their Green
Umbrella series, and we could choose any instrumentation for up to 21 instruments
and I chose to write a piece for 15 stringed instruments and I was writing a
very energetic, chaotic piece. And out of the blue I got a phone call that my
motherhood unexpectedly passed away so I of course immediately flew back to
England. The next day I started writing a totally different piece which is now
called “Within Her Arms,” and as soon as I got back to England I sat at the piano
and I had a photo actually of her from that week, a beautiful photo of her
standing on a bridge. So I had that and a candle and I just wrote this music in
the next 24 hours and it was just my instinct to process this by
writing music and I felt very close to her through that process of writing. In a
moment of unexpected grief I turned to music. The piece “Within Her Arms,” which was premiered by Esa-Pekka Salonen in a beautiful performance
with musicians from the LA Phil, it’s a piece that’s really gone on to have a
wonderful life and I think it’s probably my most frequently performed [piece]
and I fairly often get feedback from the audiences that they
have been deeply moved by this piece or they have lost a parent or a loved one and
felt a connection in the music. So out of a lot of sorrow came something that I’m able to share with other people.

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