Interview with Marti Epstein


The title of the piece you wrote for us for our Nov 26th concert, Komorebi, means the light that is filtered through the leaves of trees. Where did that image come from?

I have a book called "Otherwordly" which is where I found this beautiful word. The word inspired the piece- I love the image of the sunlight on the leaves. I often start the compositional process from a visual image.

Did the Winsor Music players' personalities and our friendship influence what you wrote?

While I don't really know Peggy, Rane and Gabby have played my music a lot, and I am friends with them - so absolutely both their gorgeous playing and their lovely personalities entered into my compositional process. Also, I do know Peggy's playing and was very much inspired by how beautiful her sound is.  

Is one instrument more difficult to write for than another?

Not really, but I played the clarinet (unofficially I still do) for many years and feel like I understand that instrument on a deeper level.

Who are your major influences? Do you think of them when writing?

Toru Takemitsu, Ruth Crawford Seeger, Morton Feldman, and Jean Sibelius are my biggest influences- I don't think of them consciously, but they're in the mix, for sure.

When did you feel like you found your compositional voice?

I was pretty young- if I played pieces for you from my freshman year, you would recognize them as my voice. I'm just a much better version of that now.

Are you writing for us, yourself, or the audience?

All three- but when I write for "the audience", I am putting myself in the seat of the critical listener and writing from that perspective. I am not interested in trying to guess what everyone in the audience will like; I'm more interested in inviting them into my world.

Your scores are always so beautiful. Is the care you take with making the score part of your process or something that happens after a piece is complete? Do you have a visually artistic side as well?

I am 100% a frustrated, no-talent visual artist! My calligraphy is absolutely part of the process, and the sound of my music itself is like aural painting (to me, anyway!)


Come hear Komorebi  and a whole program of fabulous music on Winsor’s concert Nov 26th. More info here.