Each month, a different member of our group is featured in this blog, a spotlight directed from an unseen position and focusing on the person behind the instrument. Each month, a different player fills out the same questionnaire; different responses from different people, obviously, but the questions themselves are designed to reveal something unseen, unknown, about the individual, and specifically, their relationship to Harry’s music.
One such question: describe your favorite moment with the Ensemble?
This month, we feature Vicki Ray, and her response to this rather generic question is telling:
...I thought I was going to levitate.
Vicki Ray received her BM from the University of Montana, MM from Arizona State University, and DMA from the University of Southern California; when she’s not levitating with PARTCH, she is regarded as one of the foremost interpreters of modern piano repertoire. A founding member of Piano Spheres, her innovative programming concepts seem to redefine the contemporary piano recital milieu. As a soloist, she has appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Blue Rider Ensemble of Toronto, and the German ensemble Compania.
Another question...another reveal: What drew you to this music, and this ensemble, in the first place?
I first heard the group at RedCat about ten years ago. I fell in love with the music...like chamber music from Alpha Centauri. I talked to John Schneider immediately after the concert and told him that if he ever needed another player to please keep me in mind. Luckily he did!
Ah, but the luck, and the pleasure, is all ours...PARTCH Ensemble’s, that is!
Vicki stayed with the band for 3 seasons, primarily focused on stringed instruments, the Harmonic Canons and Kithara. Soon, however, the piano continued to make larger demands for her time, and she stayed away from the group. In 2017, an opportunity came for Vicki to rejoin the ranks of the Ensemble, this time focusing on the Chromolodeon, but with an abundant portion dedicated to the stringed instruments:
Depending on what piece we’re doing I move around to different instruments and I love that!
Currently, Vicki is head of the piano department at the California Institute of the Arts, where she has served on the faculty since 1991. In 2010 she was awarded the first Hal Blaine Chair in Music Performance. For the past eight years she has served on the faculty at the Bang on a Can summer festival at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Along with her lifelong explorations of the deeper states of piano being, Vicki composes, improvises, and records, all the while adding to the shared language of modern piano music.
My musical life continues to morph and change in ways that I never could have predicted.
The understatement for all members of the PARTCH Ensemble: I never imagined I’d be playing this music, with these musicians, in this city...words echoed time and again by the musicians whose paths come into contact with Partch and his wondrous world of microtonality, and the fantastical instruments of his creation.
The classical music world is just now starting to catch on to some of the magical worlds of microtonality that Partch was exploring a long time ago. Having a top-notch ensemble in Los Angeles that specializes in his music (and the creation of new music for his instruments) is an important star in the LA new music constellation!
Vicki Ray is part of the starlight from said constellation in more ways than one, truly one the brightest stars of Los Angeles new music. PARTCH Ensemble is fortunate to have her talent and passion as part of our collective musical family.
Learn more about Vicki at her website: https://www.vickiray.net
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