What do a baby and a new musical work have in common? Flutist and mezzo-soprano Lindsey Goodman can tell you.
“It’s a really unique experience to collaborate with a composer on a new work. It’s a little like creating a child, having a baby. You start where there’s nothing, and then together, through collaboration, talking with one another, getting ideas, trading sketches – suddenly there’s a new art work,” Goodman said in a recent interview. “And then it becomes so much more than just the composer or just me as the interpreter. It goes out to the audience, it’s heard by others, and then everyone gets their own unique experience for it.”
Principal flutist of the West Virginia Symphony and solo flutist of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Goodman, who lives in Pickerington, is a staunch proponent of new music and actively commissions new works. To date, Goodman has commissioned more than three dozen new works for flute, alone and in surprising combinations with other instruments.
Goodman’s debut solo recording, reach through the sky (New Dynamic Records, 2016), contains performances of works commissioned since 2010 and composed by six contemporary composers writing in a wide range of styles. If you think new music is all about bloop-bleeps and fingernails-down-the-chalkboard, Goodman’s debut recording might change your mind.
“When I was choosing what commissions to include in this project, I both chose some of the most tonal and palatable works, works like Rob Deemer’s The Road from Hana. He has a jazz, big band, and film scoring background, so this is going to sound a lot more like the movie music that we’re used to. As opposed to a piece like Gilda Lyons’ Chrysalis, which I don’t think there’s a normal note in it. It’s all extended techniques. So there’s going to be something on this particular project that might appeal to everyone, wherever your ears are right now.”
Wherever else your ears may be right now, they’re definitely in a world saturated with technology, a reality that Goodman says she wanted the repertory on her recording to reflect.
“One of the really important ways that I’m trying to reflect the now, the present in this disc, is by having several pieces that utilize electronics in some way. Technology’s involved in every aspect of our lives, so I think that technology should be involved in our music making. Some of these pieces have either live processed sounds or pre-recorded sounds that would be impossible even 20 years ago,” Goodman said.
Those pre-recorded sounds include the treadling of a Virginia weaver’s loom which, cleverly, forms a funky rhythmic foundation for the flute melody in Judith Shatin’s Penelope’s Song.
reach through the sky is also home to works composed for and performed by Goodman’s chamber ensembles of innovative instrumentation. ASS3MBLY, a trio in which Goodman covers both flute and mezzo-soprano roles alongside percussionist Scott Christian and pianist Anne Waltner, performs Erich Stem’s New Year’s, settings of two Japanese-language haiku. The Chrysalis Duo, a duo for singing flutist and singing pianist comprised of Goodman and Robert Frankenberry, perform Gilda Lyons’ Chrysalis (meditations on transformation).
“We use our voices as extensions of our instruments in that (work), so if you want to hear the human voice in a new way, that’s definitely the way to do it,” Goodman said.
In the end, Goodman says her hope is that reach through the sky will balance the equation, bringing the fruits of her collaborations before listeners everywhere who can experience music in a new way – in a now way.
“When I set out to create my debut solo disc, I thought, I want this to be so much more than a vanity project. I want to take along as many of my beloved collaborators as possible, both from the members of my trio and duo to all of these performers, and make it a real celebration about collaboration,” Goodman said. “And then take it one step further – from the performers and the composers, out to the audience - to as many people as possible to experience these new visions.”