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Artist Statement

I have always told stories.

Growing up around the world with my mother, a photographer who took pictures os indigenous tribes in remote regions, the importance of music, dance, and story was a staple of my childhood. From the Indian temples to fire-dances around the rainbow serpent mound in Australia; from the hypnotic flute of the Sahara desert tribes to the people who consider themselves the last druids in Ireland, the way these cultures maintained their link to their heritage and the world around them was through combining story and dance. And I, already starting to compose and tell stories of my own, took home with me the rhythms, euphonies, and vibrant story telling I had encountered.

In a sense, composing for musical theater chose me. I am fascinated by the point at which, in a play, a character is so taken by their emotions that they can no longer speak and must sing. And the subjects that inspire me are the emotional journeys, (often from history--I have my BA in history from Colgate) that inform the complex and fraught moral decisions we are faced with in modern society.

In my technical work, I try to strike a balance between the lyrics, with I consider the text (perhaps not always reliable, depending on which character is speaking/singing), and the music, which I consider to be the subtext (and emotional truth of the moment). Layering is one of the tools I employ the most in my writing. Talking is messy. When people have a conversation they cut each other (or themselves!) off mid-sentience. My duets and ensemble pieces reflect that chaos, and I try to remain authentic to what conversation sounds like through the lens of music.

If composing is the body that brings the story to life, orchestration is the soul of the music. It brings a layer of nuance that allow for a more precise story to be told. And the emotional precision, in music and in theater, is the whole point of telling a story. When I was little, I had the opportunity to watch the Ramayana in three different countries, India, Indonesia, and Thailand. It was the same story told in music, dance, and dialogue. But the three vastly different interpretations were not in the text (which was surprisingly similar considering how far it had traveled), but the music. Moments that were jubilant in one rendition were bitter-sweet in the next. The same story, I learned, could be vastly changed through the lens of its musical interpretation. A revelation )for my four year old self!), but one that has stuck with me and influenced the way that I see music in theater. Music has the obligation of shaping the emotions of the audience. Telling them how to feel about what they are experiencing.

And so I strive to create theater through dialogue, lyrics, melody, harmony, chords, and orchestra. I strive to give nuance and precision to the stories I tell.

                                                                            Sahara Sunday Spain,


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Sahara Sunday Spain recently composed, orchestrated, and directed new music that was performed in New York last May. Here is the link to the overture on SoundCloud.