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ko‘u inoa (2017, 2021)

Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti (b.1983) is a Kanaka Maoli musician dedicated to the arts of our time. A "leading composer-performer" (The New York Times), Lanzilotti’s “conceptually potent” work is characterized by explorations of timbre and an interest in translating everyday sounds to concert instruments using nontraditional techniques. Her musical voice is grounded in experimental practices, both through influences from the Wandelweiser collective, and her own explorations into radical indigenous contemporaneity. “Lanzilotti’s score brings us together across the world in remembrance, through the commitment of shared sonic gestures.” (Cities & Health)


As a composer, Lanzilotti has written for ensembles such as the GRAMMY-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth, Argus Quartet, and Chamber Music Hawaiʻi. Her works have been performed at international festivals such as Ars Electronica (Austria), Thailand International Composition Festival, and Dots+Loops—Australia's post-genre music and arts series. Lanzilotti is the recipient of a 2020 Native Launchpad Artist Award, a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Award, 2021 McKnight Visiting Composer Residency, and 2022 First Peoples Fund Artist in Business Leadership Fellow.


Lanzilotti has collaborated with The Noguchi Museum on several commissions, writing compositions honoring Noguchi sculptures in conjunction with installations. These projects include birth, death (2017), for Noguchi’s obsidian Sounding Stones and ensemble; Postcards II: Akari (2018), for flute, viola, harp (or guitar), and fixed media based on the sounds of Akari; and beyond the accident of time (2019), for percussion and voices, inspired by Noguchi’s never-fully-realized Bell Tower for Hiroshima (1951). A new work coming this spring and presented by the City & County of Honolulu honors Noguchi’s Sky Gate, one of the most prominent sculptures on the City Civic Center grounds.


As a recording artist, Lanzilotti has played on albums from Björk's Vulnicura Live and Joan Osborne's Love and Hate, to Dai Fujikura's Chance Monsoon and David Lang’s anatomy theater. Lanzilotti’s upcoming solo performance projects include Wayfinder—a new viola concerto by Dai Fujikura inspired by Polynesian wayfinding. in manus tuas—Lanzilotti’s solo viola album debut—was featured in Steve Smith’s Log Journal Playlist (Live life out Loud), Bandcamp’s Best Contemporary Classical Albums of 2019, and The Boston Globe’s Top 10 classical albums of 2019, and was called “an entrancing new album” by The New Yorker’s Alex Ross.

To reach new audiences and share contemporary music, Lanzilotti has published articles in Music & Literature and Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, and written program notes for the London Symphony Orchestra. Lanzilotti's dissertation is an analysis of Andrew Norman’s The Companion Guide to Rome showing the influence of architecture and visual art on the work. As an extension of the research, she created Shaken Not Stuttered, a free online resource demonstrating extended techniques for strings. Lanzilotti has also worked as a producer and curator, recently as the Curator of Music at EMPAC. Upcoming publications include a contribution to Tuning Calder’s Clouds, edited by Vic Brooks and Jennifer Burris, which will be published in fall 2022 in a collaboration between EMPAC at Rensselaer, the Calder Foundation, and Athénée Press. It is the first book to explore the artistic, technological, and political intersections of Alexander Calder’s sculptural Acoustic Ceiling.

As an educator, Lanzilotti has been on the faculty at New York University, University of Northern Colorado (where she was also the director of the contemporary music ensemble), Casalmaggiore International Music Festival, and Point CounterPoint Music Festival. Lanzilotti is currently a lecturer in both Composition & Viola at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. Lanzilotti studied at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Yale School of Music, and Manhattan School of Music. In addition, Lanzilotti was an orchestral fellow in the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin and the New World Symphony. She participated in the Lucerne Festival Academy under Pierre Boulez, and was the original violist in the Lucerne Festival Alumni Ensemble. Her mentors include Hiroko Primrose, Peter Slowik, Jesse Levine, Martin Bresnick, Wilfried Strehle, Karen Ritscher, and Reiko Füting.

Described as "a homesick bariolage based on the anthem Hawaiʻi Aloha," koʻu inoa exists in several forms. Lanzilotti began composing the original solo viola work by playing the anthem in Germany to feel closer to home, taking time to explore the soothing melody, and feeling the resonant vibrations of home through the fingers on strings. Since premiering the work in 2017, koʻu inoa has found continuing international life in solo violin and solo cello incarnations, often in the hands of fellow Hawai'i-born artists who also feel the homeward calling. The orchestra version on this program is scored for flute, English horn, bassoon, horn, timpani, and strings.


The work extensively uses bariolage, a string technique where notes rapidly alternate between fingered pitch and open strings, creating subtle shifts in timbre, an effect of creating different vowel sounds. Beginning with the cello, the bariolage alternates between the open C-string and its fingered octave. Immediately meditative and focused, the music embraces stasis, being rooted.


koʻu inoa translates from ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi to "my name is" and frames a perspective and statement to absorb the meaning of identity. Melody is the most substantial element to impart musical distinction and identity. A succession of pitches is the equivalent of letters to a name. Even when the rhythm is altered, the original melody lingers and is recognizable. This connection between pitch, melody, time, and personal identity is one of many metaphors at the heart of this music.


Gradually, Hawaiʻi Aloha (in the key of C-major) ebbs and flows from and through the texture, then recedes into an oceanic bariolage. The melody will even whisper when the winds exhale through the instrument without producing pitch. The anthem's presentation is not immediately recognizable. Lanzilotti removes the melody's rhythm, extracting just the pitch (not including repeated notes), and spaces them widely apart across the bariolage, a musical quilt of sorts; the tune sewn into the fabric. Lingering on each note, there is a comfort to be taken, a curated sonic pool to explore, feel, and embrace the meaning of these individual notes to the whole, at first far apart, then closer together. 


For five minutes, koʻu inoa invites us to listen on three planes: to listen closely (focus on immediate changes), listen broadly (connect changes over time), and listen metaphorically (distill meaning from sound). If there is an allegory in music, this is a well-spring; Lanzilotti offers the awakened Hawaiian consciousness, a journey of one distantly far from home but connected with resounding clarity. 


Hawaiʻi Aloha, usually performed at the end of concerts, offers the audience a parting gesture of farewell to sing as one, to be a community connected. When koʻu inoa is performed as a concert opener, the anthem becomes a welcoming gesture rooted in the Kanaka Maoli protocols of first contact; to introduce who you are. The world premiere of the orchestral koʻu inoa is Lanzilotti's debut with the Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra, an introduction for the composer, and a warm musical broth to alleviate homesickness. As listeners, the invitation stands to meditate on our identity, discover meaning in the melody of our name, and feel rooted and connected to the place we call home.

© Notes by Michael Thomas Foumai. 


At the turn of the 19th century, a young Beethoven (composer and pianist) dazzled the world stage with keyboard virtuosity. Mozart foresaw this master talent and prophesized that "one day he will give the world something to talk about." Journey through Beethoven's early trials and triumphs in the fiery Piano Concerto No. 2 and the vigorous No. 3. American pianist Anne-Marie McDermott joins your Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra in a tale of two concertos and the world premiere of Leilehua Lanzilotti's evocative meditation on 'Hawaiʻi Aloha,' koʻu inoa.

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