BBC Music Magazine
BACKGROUND TO…Amy Beth Kirsten (b1972)
With an interest in physical performance and theatricality, Amy Beth Kirsten is not your average composer. While she turns her hand to more traditional concert works, she is perhaps better known for her boundary-bending creations and this has marked her out as one of America’s most innovative and visionary composers. For Amy Beth, the instrument, voice and body are equal performing partners. As a composer in residence for London’s Riot Ensemble, she enjoyed numerous UK premieres, while in the US she has written regularly for her own ensemble (HOWL), not to mention musicians from the Chicago and New World Symphonies.
This short section is adjacent to a CD review of pianist Adam Swayne’s (speak to me), which includes ABK’s titular track.
John Von Rhein, The Chicago Tribune
The 10 best classical concerts of 2018
Amy Beth Kirsten’s “Savior,” world premiere by MusicNOW, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, April 2. “With ‘Savior,’ the latest in a series of multimedia works Kirsten calls ‘composed theater,’ the Illinois-born composer has fashioned an ingenious, absorbing and quietly powerful retelling of the life and death of Joan of Arc that succeeds remarkably well on its unique, genre-melding terms …. ‘Savior’ proved to be a splendid addition to MusicNOW’s 20th anniversary season.” – J.v.R. FULL ARTICLE.
John Von Rhein, The Chicago Tribune
MusicNOW premieres Kirsten’s ‘Savior’
With “Savior,” the latest in a series of multimedia works Amy Beth Kirsten calls “composed theater,” the Illinois-born composer has fashioned an ingenious, absorbing and quietly powerful retelling of the life and death of Joan of Arc that succeeds remarkably well on its unique, genre-melding terms. FULL ARTICLE (located below the 'Itzhak' review)
Theatre Review: ‘Quixote’ at Alexander Kasser Theatre
QUIXOTE is an extravagant and unpredictable experiment into the Quarks and Leptons, or building blocks, of the sounds and body that constitute a story. What I mean to say is that this “production” feels like you are witnessing the scientific findings of years dedicated to understanding the atomic nuclei of the theatrical form. This work has been under the microscope for two years (or two hundred) in the HOWL theatrical lab, which was made possible by Peak Performances’ extended residency program, “PeARL.” It is an extraordinary achievement. FULL ARTICLE
Jacquelyn Claire, NYTheatreGuide.com (publication no longer online)
This Week’s 8 Best Classical Music Moments: Playing the Page
Playing what’s on the page is the core task of most classical musicians. The composer Amy Beth Kirsten came up with a new challenge for the ensemble performing her wildly inventive Cervantes-inspired “Quixote:” play the page itself. While the mezzo Hai-Ting Chinn, her voice coolly blooming, evoked the torments of the shepherd boy Andrés, a group of instrumentalist-actors drew cicada-like chirps and rasps from blank sheets suspended in space, striking tuning forks against rubber-and-metal bracelets and holding the vibrating wands against the paper until it seemed to speak, in surprised whispers.
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
MUSIC REVIEW: Where Drums Glow, and Dreams Go Dark
For centuries, the archetypal characters of commedia dell’arte have been mined so thoroughly by composers, dancers and dramatists that you would think that there is nothing fresh to uncover. Thankfully, the composer Amy Beth Kirsten did not feel this way.
After talking with Eighth Blackbird, the brilliant and adventurous six-member instrumental ensemble from Chicago, Ms. Kirsten was inspired to do a 21st-century fantasia on commedia dell’arte. Working with the director and stage designer Mark DeChiazza, Ms. Kirsten wrote “Colombine’s Paradise Theater,” a 60-minute work that combines instrumental music, singing, speaking, sputtering, movement, dance and all manner of comedic and intense physical gyrations. FULL ARTICLE
Review: Amy Beth Kirsten’s ‘Colombine’s Paradise Theater’ is a tour de force
There’s no simple way to describe “Colombine’s Paradise Theater” — the wildly imaginative new music-theater-dance piece by composer Amy Beth Kirsten, performed at the Atlas Performing Arts Center last weekend. But it’s a tour de force any way you cut it.
Built on a few fragments of 17th-century poetry and some archetypal characters from Venetian commedia dell’arte, it’s a highly stylized, darkly beautiful love story that’s steeped in myth yet utterly modern. There’s no real plot, exactly; the players (the virtuosos of the new-music ensemble Eighth Blackbird) act out the roles of a young woman and her two suitors. But the story really unfolds in the rich poetic imagery — both musical and visual — in the shadowy, unsettling world Kirsten creates. FULL ARTICLE
Stephen Brookes, The Washington Post
Fragmented Dreams and a Send-Up of Celebrity
Three of the four works were for voice. The opener, “L’Ange Pâle” (2009), by Amy Beth Kirsten, evokes the pale angel at the center of the text — Ms. Kirsten’s own poem — by creating a chromatic, fragmented dream world. Shards of vocalise, tactile percussion (pitched and otherwise), rhythmic whispering and gracefully angular flute lines are intertwined, with the vocal line often seeming part of the instrumental texture. Yet the poetry is not lost here: Elizabeth Farnum, the soprano, sang it with a haunting litheness, with the flutist Tara Helen O’Connor and the percussionists Matthew Gold and Matt Ward winding their light-hued lines around her. FULL ARTICLE
Allan Kozinn, The New York Times