Composer Stephanie Ann Boyd writes lyrical music that is colorful and vibrant. As a recent graduate of New England Conservatory, she continues to have strong ties to the city of Boston. Flautist Chia-Chen Feng and pianist Brianna Matzke will premiere her new work Imogen, which was written just for us, on our inaugural concert tomorrow night.
Imogen for flute and piano weaves together several made-up folk songs to tell the stories of three very different Innogen or Ingen, the Old Irish word for maiden. In this piece I return to my Gaelic heritage to find ways to help the piano and flute evoke the bagpipes, bodhrán, celtic harp, and penny whistle.
CSB: What specifically about these Gaelic folk sounds – sonically and conceptually – drew you to them? What are your personal experiences with these sounds and ideas?
SAB: I’ve been in love with the bagpipes forever. (I probably heard them for the first time at the annual Celtic heritage festival my parents took me to beginning when I was in kindergarten.) There’s something about having a drone hit me in the chest and reverberate through me that lends a joy I can’t find anywhere else. It made sense to go ahead and borrow from the catalog of Gaelic instruments at least as a jumping off point for this piece – there are places where the flute won’t sound like our classical flute, where the piano is more interested in its beat than its pitch, and of course drones abound.
CSB: What prompted you to explore them in this piece and with this instrumentation?
SAB: I really, really enjoy melodies as painted in time and timbre by the flute! I’ve never had an occasion to write for flute and piano before, so I wanted to work with both instruments to create this collection of songs almost; these melodies that would be as close to [being] sung as possible without the voice entering the instrumental equation. The nature of the melodies lent themselves to creating a lovely narrative incorporating inspiration from those other, more ancient instruments.