photo: Tim Yao
LOCK & KEY VOL II is the second presentation of five composers drawing from the well of inspiration – in highly heterogeneous ways and from a plethora of sources, yet all united by a common theme: the profound depths of the human experience. The pieces all revel exuberantly: in the natural beauty of Iceland, the nostalgia evoked by a distantly familiar melody, the random augury of a deck of tarot cards, late 19th Century anthems adapted for woodwind quintet, or the kinetic energy of musical gestures.
Confidently asserting that all facets of life can be a source of music if you listen closely enough, LOCK & KEY VOL II includes The Oracle by Sarah Wallin-Huff, a chamber work constructed from a framework of fifty randomly drawn tarot cards.
Today, Sarah 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 discover how she has developed her unique compositional voice…
What inspires you to write?
My inspiration comes in many forms: writing music for a specific performer, writing about a specific story or theme that’s important to me (as in the case of “The Oracle” on this album), or sometimes just following the seed of a musical idea and seeing where it takes me.
Do you have any specific hopes about what this album will mean to listeners?
My hope for listeners is that their imaginations will be set free with the sounds on this album, that they’ll become so engrossed with the emotions and stories found within the music that they’ll feel free to dream as they listen.
How have your influences changed as you grow as a musician?
As I get older my influences have tended to be two-fold. On the one hand, I’ve become much more comfortable being myself (and even just knowing what my sound typically is and embracing it). I’m much less likely to try so hard to copy another composer’s voice and be something I know I’m not. On the other hand, I admit to sometimes becoming bored with certain shticks that are deep in my musical DNA, and when I’m facing those moments I do deliberately try to break out of my rut by employing techniques that are not my normal way of thinking. Even so, once that inspiration hits, I allow my sonic voice to shape the idea into something that’s truly me.
Where and when are you at your most creative?
I seem to be able to get most of my creative juices flowing best in the late afternoons and early evenings. I especially love the calm feeling of twilight. I like to be in my office, with all my tools at my disposal (my keyboard, computer, notepads, books, etc.)
What are your other passions besides music?
I absolutely love nature (be it the mountains, the desert, or the beach) and taking a stroll through the wilderness; I enjoy writing original stories; and I enjoy playing certain card and video games as a way to unwind.
Who are your musical mentors?
The person who always comes to mind is a former professor of mine during my undergraduate years. Dr. Peter Yates became my mentor in composition at a time when I felt lost and alone in the world. He gave me encouragement, hope, armed me with lots of creative ideas and new ways of looking at art and life…I am forever grateful for his kindness and wisdom!