Elizabeth Winters

rarescale's Artistic Director, Carla Rees, talks to Elizabeth Winters
What attracts you to rarescale as an ensemble?

rarescale are an amazing group as they are genuinely enthusiastic about all types of new music. I don’t feel they ‘pigeon hole’ composers or play only one type of music. It’s very refreshing.

Tell us a little about your experience of working with rarescale

Back in 2009 I wrote a piece (Ghost Dances) for alto flute and guitar for members of rarescale to play. This was a tentative exploration into the world of the quarter tone alto flute, and was also my first experience of writing for the guitar. Carla and Dave were extremely helpful throughout the composing process, answering my many questions and trying out ideas. I was so pleased with the outcome of the piece that I decided to explore the quarter tone language further with a solo piece for quarter tone alto flute (White Bird – blackbird) in 2011. I definitely plan to write more pieces for rarescale in the future as their commitment and the high level of performance makes for a brilliant overall experience.

Tell us about the background of your piece - how did it come to be written and what's it all about?

Image Unfolding was written for the violinist Peter Sheppard Skaerved. Peter asked me to write a piece for him responding in some way to the cycle of Tartini solo sonatas which he was to perform over the summer and autumn of 2010. The piece is based on material drawn from the third movement of Tartini’s solo violin sonata no. 10. Analysis of this movement provided me with five distinct fragments – each with their own characteristics. These five fragments comprise the material for the piece. Gradually, over the course of the piece, the original Tartini fragments (the ‘image’) are unfolded from the material one by one, in the same way that one might stretch out a piece of plasticine to reveal a pattern, or
words. Whilst writing this piece, I was very conscious of Tartini’s statement ‘to play well, it is necessary to sing well’. Even during complex passages I aimed to let the natural sound of the violin through, in particular involving use of open strings.

What are your plans for the future?

Trying to juggle commissions with a baby (due in March). Before March I’ll be stocking up on sleep.

What made you become a composer?

I can’t not be a composer – I did try and it didn’t work! It’s just something I have to live with.

Elizabeth's website

Elizabeth's flute music is published by Tetractys