---UPDATED DECEMBER 28, 2020 W/ VIDEO TRANSCRIPT---
We are excited to share with you the first Composer Spotlight for our October 20th collaborative concert with the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra! Learn more about MCI composer Janay Maisano's work for this group entitled "Birdy Banter" in the video below. A full transcript for this Spotlight (and for MCI composer Josh Trentadue's Spotlight) will be published in the coming weeks.
Hi! My name is Janay Maisano and I am the composer for the piece Birdy Banter, and I'll be answering a few questions about the piece!
I'm a composer who prefers to go more based off motives in my writing, and so the very first melody you hear in the piece (in the trumpets) - [sings the melody] - that's actually the fingering for it (at least, on the piano) is based off a nervous tick I have with my hands that goes "1, 4, 2, 5, 3," and it's something I do for fun, in a way, but also just to help relax myself, because if I do it well, I feel somewhat pleased. So, that's where the first initial melody came from, and the other major melody in the piece, which shows up about halfway through [sings the melody] - that's somewhat inspired by one of my favorite soundtracks, which is composed by a man named Grant Kirkhope. And it's for a video game series, actually, titled Banjo & Kazooie. And then, based off of those two simple ideas, the piece just grew and flourished and became something that I'm able to enjoy, and my mentality is that if I'm able to enjoy it, then everyone can find something to enjoy!
For me, my compositions tend to be a bit more abstract - at least, when they're in the making - but the title, Birdy Banter, was actually inspired by my three beloved birds who - when I was listening back to the piece - it sounded a lot like their varied squawking! It's kind of sometimes very pleasant and playful and interesting. Sometimes, it's a bit louder and a bit more obnoxious, and it's just inevitable. And, the conception for the piece - no matter how you think of it - it's just meant to be something enjoyable and fun and maybe make you just swing or sway a little.
As [an] undergrad composer who has been composing for just a little over four years now - I started back when I was 16, and I am now 20, so it's been a few years, but - this is the first time I've actually composed for such a large ensemble! So, that was already a bit daunting at first. And, I've never written a piece more than about 6 minutes, so the timeframe was also a bit terrifying and overwhelming. That already, in itself, was a huge challenge - just wrapping my mind around the whole concept of... it's just a lot. But, it was also just a challenge to make sure that I had enough, but it was still interesting and good and, ideally, fun to play. That's something I prioritize as a composer - that, if the performers don't enjoy themselves, then what's the point? So, I would say that was the biggest challenge.
I hope that [audiences] genuinely enjoy it! I hope they genuinely have fun, or feel some kind of pleasant emotion, and they finish listening to the piece and just smile and feel good, even if it's just for a brief moment, because we all need that sometimes in our life.
[Collaborating with the Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra] has been very beneficial in allowing me to expand my skills as a composer. The fact [that] I've just written the longest piece and largest piece I've ever had to write, and to have the opportunity to have it played, is wonderful. And, the rewarding part comes from the fact that this is such a highly qualified group who stands for wonderful things. So, to have them play something [of mine] and to do it well - it just means the world to me as a composer!