Composers at Home: Eric Nathan

 What is an early musical experience that has stayed with you throughout your career?

Hearing the premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ “Blood on the Fields” at
Lincoln Center in 1997. I was astounded by it. I think it was the
first time I truly experienced how powerfully, and deeply, one can
communicate with music. Hearing Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz for Young
People’s concerts growing up in New York (I attended for seven years)
were some of the most formative moments for me as a composer and
eventually, a teacher. It was the emotional impact and personal
meaning he and the members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
would share in their performances, and the generosity with which he
taught us about music and jazz, that has influenced my work as a
composer and teacher.

How did you meet Momenta and how have we collaborated over the years?

We met at a residency at Cornell when I was a student. Through a
Jerome Foundation grant, Momenta subsequently commissioned and
premiered “Multitude, Solitude” at the Chelsea Music Festival, where
we were both in-residence in 2013. We then recorded that and three
other works for my debut CD on Albany records with Momenta in 2014.
Over the years, Momenta has given (I think) over 30 performances of my
music! Momenta’s championing of my music has been one of the most
rewarding experiences for me as a composer. As composers, so often we
hear a piece performed only once and that’s it. To hear a piece grow
with an ensemble over years has been a real gift. It’s wonderful
hearing how the piece breathes differently as Momenta has grown with
it and my musical language.

Do you have a performance of your work that you’d like to share?

I would like to share my Double Concerto that I wrote in 2019 for
violinist Stefan Jackiw and clarinetist Yoonah Kim. It was
co-commissioned by the New York Classical Players and New England
Philharmonic. This recording is with the New York Classical Players
with Dongmin Kim conducting. Some of my thinking on the roles the
violin and clarinet play grew out of early conversations I had with
Stefan and Yoonah. Stefan described thinking of the role of the
clarinet in string chamber works, such as Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet,
as an invited guest. In my work, it begins with the solo violin, and
the clarinet does not enter until almost halfway through the work, but
when it does, it unexpectedly alters the course of the concerto.


What are you doing for fun while socially isolating?

We recently got a badminton set, and it’s been fun playing and getting
some exercise in our yard. Our dog chases after the birdies, though
it’s not always easy getting them back from him…

What do you enjoy cooking or eating at home?

I have to say that with having more time at home these days in the
mornings, I’ve gotten into making smoothies. Simple but enjoyable.
I’ve particularly enjoyed a fresh mango smoothie, though my recipe is
still a work in progress. So far it’s just mango, yogurt, oat milk,
though I’ve been experimenting with the yogurts and the types of milk.
When I perfect it I’ll share the recipe!