Composer Conversations: Rain Worthington and “In Passages”
March 26, 2019
Self-taught in composition, Rain Worthington’s catalog includes works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, duos, solos, and miniatures. Inspirations for pieces have ranged from “NYC trucks late into the night, to the two-note expression of a sigh, to a dream of a careening bike ride through dark fog.”
With a strong childhood memory of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, an affinity for Satie’s piano music, and the allure of Middle-Eastern modal music leading her to travels in Greece, Egypt, and Turkey, Rain has always followed her own musical instincts. She first began composing solo piano pieces before learning music notation, and performed her works from memory in fellow artists’ lofts in Soho and at The Kitchen. With the downtown NYC club scene serving as her conservatory, Worthington led two bands and performed at CBGB’s, the Pyramid, Roulette, and PS 122.
Inspired by the energy of the contemporary classical scene, she pursued her fascination with orchestral music and taught herself notation and orchestration. Her orchestral writing has been described in the IAWM Journal as “a fusion of styles—ancient, medieval sounds expressed via modality and open sonorities, modernist minimalist ostinato, and classical approaches to basic ideas—to capture components of the human experience.”
Rain is a dear friend of PARMA and has worked with us for years. In celebration of In Passages, we are releasing an exclusive audio interview in which we discussed Rain’s creative process, the writing of In Passages and other works that she has coming out on the Navona label, and more.
For more on In Passages and the composer behind the piece, read on for the “Inside Story” of Rain Worthington…
What is your guilty pleasure?
As “guilty” certainly implies an indulgence, I have to admit that salted caramel gelato is probably my favorite dessert, which I could eat anytime. Though espresso coffee with milk and sweetened with molasses is a close second favorite, anytime too.
If you could make a living at any job in the world, what would that job be?
Although I can’t really say it’s a way to “earn a living” – composing music is what I want to spend my time doing! So, I worked whatever jobs necessary to earn a living and still find time to write music.
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
This is fun to contemplate. There was one day when I was living on the Greek island of Crete, that I thought to myself: This is the most perfect place – the most perfect weather, the most perfect combination of sea, land and sky, and life lived at the most perfect pace. In that moment that’s where I thought I’d like to live. But, then there’s Paris! – Oh, the sophisticated energy of Paris! Then there’s New York City – I lived there so long and whenever I return I click right into a street savvy attitude and feel totally at home with all its crazy, tumultuous, creative energy. Then again, I love my home in upstate NY where I share the land with the beautiful trees, flowers, and all the birds and animals that also make this property their home.
What was your favorite musical moment on the album?
I find that in my composing process, some pieces are written in stages or are created from combining segments of musical thoughts or feelings. But almost immediately from the opening of In Passages with the quiet “rumbling” of the cellos and basses from which the violin soloist takes flight, the piece drew me forward in an almost continuous flow. So, it’s impossible for me to choose a favorite moment in the piece – I love the interplay of emergence and reabsorption between the soloist and the string orchestra.
What does this album mean to you personally?
It’s thrilling to hear this beautiful recording with conductor Miran Vaupotić leading the Croatian Chamber Orchestra and violin soloist Mojca Ramušćak. It’s very exciting that this piece will be available now on the BENEATH THE TIDE album. In Passages has taken on a life of its own. It has been performed several times in the United States and also had premieres in Italy and Brazil! So, it’s turned out to be one of my hits!
Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?
I try my best to write program notes that will help convey the feelings that I have about the work and hope will provide an opening into the music. I feel my compositions as emotions following a thread through time, a journey within the duration of the music. Here is the program note I wrote for In Passages:
“In Passages for violin soloist and string orchestra is a reflection on the passages of emotion — that ebb and flow of the feelings that continually emerge and recede repeatedly throughout life. The music is written to balance the interplay between the soloist and the orchestra, rather than the traditional role of the soloist being in the forefront. The soloist should seem to emerge from the orchestra in much the way that intense feelings seem to surface from the unconscious, giving voice to our inner emotional currents, and then recede back into the chorus of the subliminal.”