“Throughout time, music and art have been the unifying voice of generations torn apart by war and disaster”.
With this boldly positive statement, Italian pianist Lorenzo Marasso introduces his Invention Project which is commissioning 15 composers from around the world to write 15 new works, united by the musical themes and inspiration of Johann Sebastian Bach. Among the commissioned composers we are so proud to see Composers Edition’s Jack Van Zandt, Jeffrey Holmes and Michael Finnissy.
Composers Edition’s Késia Decoté caught up with Lorenzo Marasso for further insights into the project
Késia Decoté: We were delighted to hear about your Invention Project and proud to have our composers in your line up. Could you tell us more about the project and the Invention theme itself?
Lorenzo Marasso: I have previously recorded the complete Inventions and Sinfonias by J.S. Bach which were released in 2018 by Bauhaus Records and became fascinated by the format of the musical form, which tend to be short thoughtful pieces that are very enjoyable to play whilst containing as much music as a larger and longer pieces. I started to sleuth out inventions written out by other composers other than Bach and have developed my own small collection of them. At the same time I had thought about commissioning new inventions but wasn’t sure how to go about it, whether to commission one composer to write 30 new pieces or 30 composers write 30 new pieces. In the end I decided to ask 15 composers to write 15 new pieces as a way to respond to both Inventions and Sinfonias.
Following this curiosity and looking for new ways to connect with music during these times when artists are isolated from their audiences, it seemed more timely than ever to launch the project, and I have been thrilled that composers and audiences have also found inspiration and given support.
KD: Could you tell us about your process of selection of the composers?
LM: I started by drawing up a list of composers I personally know, then included composers that I didn’t know personally but whose work I admire very much and who also may be a good fit in composing a new piece inspired by J.S. Bach. I also consulted and received great advice from my good friends Anne Lebaron, Jack Van Zandt and Giacomo Platini. Then I started reaching out to the composers, sent them my idea and in less than a week I had a definite roster of composers signed up. I am already receiving the scores of the new pieces, and am extremely grateful to all of them for embracing this idea and thrilled with the quality of these new pieces.
CE: How can the audience participate by supporting the project?
LM: I have launched a commissioning campaign as a way to support the project. Opening this up to co-commissioners gives a way for audiences to participate in the creative process during a time when they are without live performances, and I’m hopeful that this type of global collaboration between artists, musicians, and audiences can continue even with the return of sold-out concert halls. I am amazed at the display of love and support that we are experiencing from the audience and supporters. All of the proceeds will be equally distributed among the composers.
LM: I am thrilled and humbled by the support of this project from all of the composers. For example, Anne LeBaron, Jack Van Zandt and Giacomo Platini have been incredibly generous in introducing me to composers who may have been interested. And even composers who I contacted “out of the blue” were inspired to participate. This accounts for the real inspiration and dedication that composers always have, always responding to music first and foremost.
For example, I became familiar with Michael Finnissy during the mid-nineties when I was a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London where he was teaching composition and was already highly recognised in the European music community. I briefly met him during that time and learned more about his music and his process and later acquired some of his work inspired by Grieg and Schubert (whose completion of the D840 Piano Sonata is on my list of pieces to learn and perform). As I was conceiving the Invention Project, he came to mind immediately for his capacity to draw inspiration from other composers’ music and his ability to infuse his style and creativity in very unexpected ways.
This attitude of style, creativity and capacity to learn from the past and translate it in new ways is what I was looking for in all of the composers. All the scores I have received so far are very much faithful to that idea and I am glad to hear each individual voice!