INVISIBLE(s) PROGRAM 2020–2022
A project by Cristina Pato in collaboration with Mazz Swift
Cristina Pato: Galician bagpipes, piano, composition.
Mazz Swift: violin, electronics, voice, composition.
Elijah Walker: Sound Engineer
“Sometimes I think about what would happen if history were to be written by forgotten communities and about the way this recovered memory would alter our social, cultural and political landscape. There are so many realities remaining invisible to us, so many unknown ways of living, of understanding life. What may be invisible to me may be at the center of another person’s existence, and what I see as perfectly visible may also be invisible to others.
In 2018 I met Mazz Swift as a composer and violinist during a Silkroad Ensemble residency. I was already working on the idea of creating a program focused on the idea of invisibility and when we met she had just shared with us one of the pieces of her collection “16 Hits or Misses”, about the victims of police brutality and racism. I fell in love with her music and vision, and at that moment I knew I wanted to learn more from her.
This project is a way of bringing together two ways of understanding life and music through our own compositions and multiple instruments, but also through other composers’ languages. This project is also about learning and sharing ways of discovering the multiple realities around us."
“I believe fiercely in the power of improvisation, to improve people's lives. Practicing, hearing, and witnessing improvisation creates profound human experience. I revel in the art and craft of composition—conjuring textures and moods, generating vibes and grooves, constructing a whole from many parts. My practice of mindfulness and compassion through meditation - in music and in life - compels me to use whatever power I have to foster awareness: in myself, in my music, and in the world, with an aim toward radical change. I want to uplift anyone who is willing to listen. In every area of my life, I aspire to transform and be transformed.
I am forever grateful to have met Cristina in the context of the Silkroad Ensemble. One brief collaboration on a piece of mine, written for victims of police brutality made it very clear that she and are thinking the same way about the power of music and how we can use it for healing.”
Cristina Pato & Mazz Swift
Program order will be announced from the stage and will include the following pieces:
“My Lethe Story: The River of Forgetfulness”
by CRISTINA PATO
“Excerpts from 16 Hits or Misses”
by MAZZ SWIFT
"same word different smile"
by DANA LYN*
“You Can Fly”
by ALISA ROSE*
“Meus Benqueridos Irmáns”
by Octavio Vázquez**
“Plainsong for Jojo” (working title)
By MICHI WIANCKO*
NOTE: This piece was originally commissioned by Silkroad in 2013 and rearranged for Invisible(s)
My mother’s Frontotemporal dementia was diagnosed after years of pretending that it was all okay. Writing about my everyday life with her began as an exercise of coping with losing my mother’s identity: I created a blog in Spanish (Donde estás mamá?), I composed a storytelling chamber piece in English (My Lethe Story: The River of Forgetfulness) and soon after, questions about the role of memory in our individual identity as human beings and in our collective identity as a society, started to drive my path. Those questions were a way of me understanding the new her, and fueled my desire to destigmatize the disease by finding a way of talking about it in a universal manner…Cristina Pato
Mazz is currently working on a collection of works, entitled “16 Hits or Misses for Cello & Violin, Vol II; The Free Series”; a piece that came out of Mazz’s desire to pay homage to the victims of police brutality and racism. It is a way to honor the dead by reminding our society that we have work to do, and to inspire the dialogue necessary for that work to continue and flourish. The music is a tribute that she hopes will serve as a catalyst for social awakening and change. She considers this her life's work, and feels that social change will be the greatest of tributes to the lives lost.Mazz Swift
My parents emigrated to the United States from Taiwan in 1972, and I was brought up in a mostly white and Latino suburb of LA. Given the multiple regime changes in Taiwan through my parents’ lifetimes, the language they spoke to each other at home was a mix of Taiwanese, Mandarin and the occasional Japanese phrase. However, for a number of reasons, I was encouraged to only speak English, and have thus never gained fluency in my parents’ mixed tongues, despite later efforts to learn. Likewise, English, my parents’ third language, has always remained difficult for them.
“same word different smile” is pulled from my experience dealing with the language barrier between me and my parents, witnessing difficult communications between them and native English speakers, and memories of being amongst family and Taiwanese family friends, unable to communicate verbally beyond basic sentiments and needs. I loved listening to the sounds and cadences of my parents’ hybridic language, which is increasingly rare as their generation ages (Taiwan’s official language is now Mandarin, and Taiwanese is no longer spoken). However, I would also feel ignored and looked over because I couldn’t participate verbally, as my parents likely did, in their new lives in an English-speaking country. With this piece, I hope to pay homage to the millions of immigrants who have built lives in this country whilst learning the extremely difficult language of English, and have experienced condescension, mockery and feelings of invisibility in the process.Dana Lyn
As I walked to Healing Well through the Tenderloin I saw families walking their kids to school, people getting groceries as well as people openly taking drugs, hanging out on the street or by the tents they call home. I played violin music and talked about the Invisibles Project at the Healing Well, and talked to one woman named Darryl who lived in a senior housing in the Tenderloin about her life. She talked with great intensity.
“What people don’t see is me as a whole person, because I’m always doing gladiator, I’m always doing recovery, I’m always living in these dire places and struggling.”
Of her home, she said “I’m being hurt where I live, the neighborhood is dangerous, strokes are being caused, seizures are being cause…. It’s amazing how many older disabled women are homeless. Nobody knows the law, nobody follows the law, nobody reasonably accommodates, we’re supposed to die, and we are supposed to die silently.”
I found it tragic that while she talked of being oppressed, hurt, and struggling she intends she will save the world with music “I really want to see the whole world singing, California,, the world, should be singing, the world should be dancing, the world should be having herbs, the world should be having these amazing flower remedies, we shouldn’t have the monopolies of the medical profession and the abusiveness and the madness of this anger and viciousness, so I am intending to worldwide irradicate war, inhumanity, and all the suffering that is going on and have a one world government.. we’re all in this lifeboat...”
In this piece I wanted to convey the anxiety and stress of her daily life in the Tenderloin, as well as the freedom and expression she finds when she sings. She spoke of singing at the cable car turn around and feeling great joy and offered me a gift of song in the interview “fly like a falcon up up to the sky…. You can fly, you can fly you can fly.” And when she is singing, I wonder if anyone sees her flying?Alisa Rose
The title of my piece, “Meus Benqueridos Irmáns” (My Beloved Brethren), is the opening line of a 1945 letter by Galicia’s president in exile, Alfonso Daniel R. Castelao, to the New York City Galician community. Written on his way back to Argentina, where he would die in 1950, Castelao had just been named first honorary member of the Galician House in New York.
Galician migration to North America took place mainly between 1868 and 1945. Being politically and culturally repressed in our homeland, particularly during the long Francoist dictatorship, the possibility of returning faded and assimilation became common.
Nowadays there are more than half a million Galicians living in the diaspora, over 20,000 in the US, not including people of Galician descent, which by all estimates count in the millions. Asturians, Basques, Catalonians and other peoples originating from the Iberian Peninsula suffered a similar fate. In the 2013 US American Community Survey, 759,781 people reported ancestry in Spain.
The piece includes two traditional melodies: “Airiños Airiños Aires”, a plaintive song of longing for the homeland, and a “muiñeira”, a lively dance transcribed from a historical recording featuring blind Galician fiddler Florencio dos Vilares. It is scored for piano, violin, and Galician tenor bagpipe.Octavio Vázquez
Michi Wiancko’s new work for gaita, electric violin, vocals, and piano focuses on the themes of desolation and transformation, exploring both the fascinating color spectrum of this unique instrumentation and the multi-talented virtuosity of Cristina Pato and Mazz Swift.
Inspired by visits to her local jail to conduct workshops with inmates and pre-trial detainees, Wiancko aims to give voice to the type of transformation that can take place when music is allowed to change the energy of a space from one of anguish and darkness into one of empathy and hope.
In the midst of our country’s ongoing criminal justice crisis in which the current system deepens racial injustice and punishes the poor, actual glimpses into jails and prisons makes clear that there are as many deeply personal stories and circumstances as there are people incarcerated. This piece is a song of acknowledgement, an ode to the invisible.Michi Wiancko
Galician bagpiper, pianist, educator, writer & producer.
Cristina Pato is a master of the Galician bagpipes (gaita), a classical pianist, and a passionate educator. Hailed as “a virtuosic burst of energy” by the New York Times, her professional life is devoted to cultural exchange and forging new paths for the Galician bagpipe. Cristina has performed on major stages throughout the world and has released and produced six solo gaita albums and two solo piano recordings, and collaborated on more than 40 albums as a guest artist.
Education is a critical part of Cristina’s personal and professional life. She serves as Learning Advisor for Silkroad (founded by Yo-Yo Ma), has been an artist-in-residence at a number of universities, including Harvard University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she develops interdisciplinary learning projects on the role of arts in society. She is the founder of the multidisciplinary Galician Connection Festival, and writes a weekly column for the Spanish newspaper, La Voz de Galicia.
And active performer, lecturer and public speaker, Cristina holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Rutgers University, degrees in piano, music theory, and chamber music from the Conservatorio de Musica del Liceu, and a Master of Fine Arts (Digital Arts) from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Cristina is getting her second PhD in Cultural Studies and has co-created a groundbreaking pilot class on Memory with neuroscientist Dr. Kenneth Kosik. In 2019 Dr. Pato was appointed as the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Chair in Spanish Culture and Civilization at New York University.
Violin/Vox/Freestyle Composition artist Mazz Swift is critically acclaimed as one of America's most talented and versatile performers today, engaging audiences worldwide with her signature weaving of composition and improvisation called MazzMuse. She is a singer, composer, arranger and Juilliard-trained violinist who has performed and recorded with a diverse accumulation of artists including The Silkroad Ensemble, Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening, Bruce Springsteen, Whitney Houston, Perry Farrell, Dee Snider, James “Blood” Ulmer, Matana Roberts, Vernon Reid, Jim Black, Valerie June, DJ Logic, William Parker, Butch Morris, Peter Evans, Jason Lindner, Kanye West, Common, Jay-Z, D'Angelo and Idina Menzel.
Mazz has performed and taught workshops in free improvisation on six continents, having traveled to Suriname, Mozambique, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, Albania and Siberia as cultural ambassador at the invitation of the United States Department of State. She is also a teaching artist with Carnegie Hall's “Future Music” and “Lullaby” programs, where she coaches an ensemble of talented teens from every corner of NYC, writes lullabies with incarcerated mothers and mothers-to-be, and leads professional development sessions on improvisation for professional symphony orchestra members and their students.
Mazz sits on the artistic board for the Jersey City-based chamber music collective, Con Vivo, and is also a proud performing member of that organization. Two of her compositions are featured on Con Vivo's full length CD, Modern Dances, one of which is a piece dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin and his family, entitled "Invisible".
Brooklyn-based violinist/fiddler, violist, pianist and enthusiastic bass player Dana Lyn is at home in a wide range of musical genres. She has worked with Tony Award-winning musicians Stew and Heidi Rodewald, actor-directors Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio, D’Angelo and the Vanguard, 2017 MacArthur Fellow Taylor Mac, avant cellist Hank Roberts, Bruce Springsteen, the Elysian Fields, Irish poet Louis de Paor, Killer Mike and the Walkmen.
As a composer, she has received commissions from the Brooklyn Rider, the National Arts Council of Ireland, the Inception Orchestra, the Apple Hill String Quartet, the Portland Chamber Music Festival and the New Orchestra of Washington. Her music has been performed at the Savannah Music Festival, Kilkenny Arts Festival, the Bridgehampton and Portland Chamber Music Festivals, Austin’s NMASS, the Rockport Celtic Festival, Oberlin Conservatory, the Stillwater Music Festival and at Carnegie Hall. Her arrangements for fiddler Martin Hayes and the Brooklyn Rider were featured on WNYC’s New Sounds and she contributed string arrangements to Catherine Russell’s Grammy-nominated record “Alone Together” and Cherish the Ladies’ PBS special “An Irish Homecoming”, among others.
Dana has released eight albums under her name, all of which she produced or co-produced. She has created album art for four of her albums and stop-motion animations in support of her music. Currently, her own projects include a sextet, “Mother Octopus“, a collaboration with actor Vincent D’Onofrio called Slim Bone Head Volt, and a duo with guitarist Kyle Sanna. Dana was an artist in residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in the Spring of 2017; most recently, she was a member of the Joe’s Pub Working Group and an awardee of the American Composers Forum Create Commission in 2018. Dana is also a well-versed fiddle player in the Irish tradition.
Violinist and composer Alisa Rose is a modern musician with a versatile voice is strengthened by the diversity of her background. Having extensively studied classical chamber music as well as the rich American fiddle traditions her playing easily navigates musical styles from Bach to improvising on fiddle themes. She is a member of bluegrass explorers Scroggins & Rose, classical RossoRose Duo, Funk based Supermule, and contemporary music for silent film ensemble Club Foot Orchestra.
Alisa Rose has appeared with a wide range of artists including the Real Vocal String Quartet, 2008 Rockygrass winners 49 Special, and Grammy-nominated Quartet San Francisco. Alisa performed and taught throughout Eastern Europe as an Ambassador of the State Department, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, NPR's Weekend Edition, the historic Carter Family Fold festival, TEDx Alcatraz with Bob Weir, Song of the Mountains on PBS, as well as numerous international tours.
In recent years Alisa premiered Richard Marriott's Concerto at Dartmouth College and premiered her own "Piano Trio for Luisa" as part of the Trinity Arts Chamber Music Festival. As a composer she blends American folk techniques with classical concert forms. This style can be heard on her album of cross-genre virtuoso works for solo violin entitled Fiddle Caprices and Pizzicato Pieces. Other recent compositions “Nocturne for America” for RossoRose Duo, and “Six Solo Cello Suites for Wilmington,” written with Swift Rose tell stories of our time.
Alisa teaches privately as well as at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she received her B.M. and M.M. in Chamber Music studying with Camilla Wicks and Bettina Mussumeli.
Hailed by the press as “...a burning torch for the next century ..stunning ..superb” (The New Music Connoisseur, New York), “…melodicism and rhythmic buoyancy” (The New York Times), “…astonishingly virtuosic” (Soundboard Magazine), the music of Octavio Vazquez has been performed throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, and broadcast by radio and TV stations such as PBS, PRX, New York's WQXR, and Spanish, Russian and Chinese national networks. His works have been performed by conductors such as Carlos Kalmar, Rossen Milanov, Dima Slobodeniouk, Paul Daniel, and Andrew Grams, and soloists as Hilary Hahn, Dmitri Berlinsky, and Jonathan Gandelsman. He has also written for film and collaborated with crossover artists as an arranger, orchestrator and producer, most notably with Grammy Award winner Cristina Pato. Winner of numerous national and international prizes, recent recognition includes I-Park, VCCA, and MacDowell Fellowships. Professor Vazquez directs the composition program at Nazareth College of Rochester, NY.
Composer and violinist Michi Wiancko has been commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Lyric Theater, On Site Opera, Ecstatic Music Festival, Liquid Music, Aizuri Quartet, Enso Quartet, Sybarite5, East Coast Chamber Orchestra, and Metropolis Ensemble. Current projects include new works for the Jupiter Quartet, NOW Ensemble, and Silkroad, plus reimaginings of existing works for Bern Camerata, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Anna Prohaska, Anne Akiko Meyers, and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Michi also composes music for short and feature-length films, commercials, and for her own band, Kono Michi.
A recipient of the 2018 Opera America Commissioning Grant for Female Composers, Michi’s first opera, Murasaki’s Moon, was premiered to critical acclaim at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in May 2019. This work was created in collaboration with librettist Deborah Brevoort and director Eric Einhorn from OnSite Opera.
A passionate collaborator and performer, Michi has been fortunate to work with performers and composers across a vast musical spectrum including William Brittelle, Steve Reich, Yo-Yo Ma, Wye Oak, Emily Wells, Missy Mazzoli, Laurie Anderson, Judd Greenstein, Emanuel Ax, EL VY (with Matt Berninger from The National), Mitsuko Uchida, and Vijay Iyer, among many others. She has toured as a guest with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), The Knights, A Far Cry, Alarm Will Sound, Mark Morris Dance Group, and is a member of Silkroad and the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, which she co-founded.
Michi gave her violin solo debuts with the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and her past teachers include Donald Weilerstein and the late Robert Mann with whom she studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Juilliard, respectively. In addition to her composition and performing career, Michi is director and curator of Antenna Cloud Farm, a music festival, artists’ retreat, and outreach organization based in western Massachusetts, and teaches a course at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee called Silkroad Creativity Lab.