LEGENDS AND LIGHT VOL. 2 from Navona Records leaves no stone unturned. From the vast expansiveness of the open sea to the microscopic particles of our world’s chemical makeup, this follow-up to 2018’s LEGENDS AND LIGHT is an ambitious collection of new works for large ensemble. Featured on this album is composer Kim Diehnelt’s Striadica, a lush symphonic passage that straddles the line between suspense and relaxation.
Today, Kim is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to learn about her appreciation for the hidden virtuosity of the harmonica, and her perfectly timed baton catch…
Who was your first favorite artist growing up?
I have always been interested in astronomy and astrophysics, so when Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” show premiered on TV, I was enthralled. I was fascinated by the show, and by its music too. The theme song especially caught my interest. It was the first time I asked, “Who wrote this?” and “How did they do it?” The composer was Vangelis.
What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?
I was conducting a performance of the operetta Die Fledermaus, and the orchestra pit area was very small and tight. I had no podium, so the players’ music stands were pushed right up along and slightly over my own stand. Well, as I made a swift gesture upward to cue a singer, my baton clipped the edge of a stand, dislodged from my hand, and continued its upward trajectory without me. This is where it becomes weird. I’m in a darkened theater, I can’t take my eyes off the stage, yet without thinking, I reach my hand behind my back, just off my right hip and after a moment’s wait the baton falls perfectly into my hand. As I continued, carrying on with conducting, I noticed the viola player, all buggy-eyed with a “What just happened!?” expression, struggling to contain himself with disbelief. Bizarre indeed.
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Anywhere quiet and natural near plants, trees, and birds. I prefer a place with a “big sky” or open waters, where my eyes can focus at a distance, my thoughts can flow unbound, and there is an invitation for deep listening.
If you could instantly have expertise performing one instrument, what instrument would that be?
Harmonica. Such an expressive instrument. Howard Levy, the Chicago-based virtuoso harmonica player, opened my eyes to that.
Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?
I would wish for the music to give shape and narrative to the inner world of the listener, especially as expressed through the dolce passage for three trombones and tuba near the end of Striadica.