For Good Measure

Monica Chew - Part 5

June 26, 2023 Monica Chew Episode 56
For Good Measure
Monica Chew - Part 5
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For Good Measure, by Ensemble for These Times (E4TT)
Episode 56: Monica Chew (part 5)

Looking for a way to listen to diverse creators and to support equity in the arts? Tune in weekly to For Good Measure!

In this week’s episode, we talk to Monica Chew about her upcoming events and how the pandemic influenced her musical life. If you enjoyed today’s conversation and want to know more about Monica Chew, check her out here: Parts of this episode originally premiered on June 2022, found on Youtube, click here.

This podcast is made possible in part by a grant from the California Arts Council and generous donors, like you. Want to support For Good Measure and E4TT? Make a tax-deductible donation or sign up for our newsletter, and subscribe to the podcast!

Intro music: “Trifolium” by Gabriela Ortiz, performed by E4TT (Ilana Blumberg, violin; Abigail Monroe, cello; Margaret Halbig, piano),  as part of “Below the Surface: Music by Women Composers,” January 29, 2022
Outro music: “Lake Turkana” by Marcus Norris, performed by E4TT (Margaret Halbig, piano), as part of “Alchemy,” October 15, 2021

Transcription courtesy of

Producer, Host, and E4TT co-founder: Nanette McGuinness
Audio Engineer: Stephanie M. Neumann
Podcast Cover Art: Brennan Stokes
Interns: Roziht Edwards and Merve Tokar

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Nanette McGuinness:

[INTRO MUSIC] Welcome to For Good Measure, an interview series celebrating diverse composers and other creative artists sponsored by grant from the California Arts Council. I'm Nanette McGuinness, artistic executive director of Ensemble For These Times. In this week's episode, we continue with our conversation with Monica Chew, who joined us in June 2022[INTRO MUSIC ENDS]. What are some upcoming events or projects you're excited about?

Monica Chew:

Yes, I don't know if this will, if this will be broadcast before my next concert, but I am very excited about my next concert, which is on December 18. At 7:30 at the Center for New Music, it's a it's a program of new music for voice and piano. And I wrote for it, along with several of my friends. So I'm really want to write some piano music. And I really want to write for cello clarinet piano.

Nanette McGuinness:

Did you have anything postponed during the pandemic? What has it been like composing during these times?

Monica Chew:

Oh, it's it's actually been Yes, I had many cancellations due to COVID. Mostly mostly solo recital stuff. And as a result of those cancellations, I actually did a online recital series for about two months, in 2020, during the summer, and that was actually great. I learned a lot about video production and streaming and what it was like to learn 30 minutes of music a week, and reform it and talk about it. And it was really fun to have something to focus on besides COVID, and the election and all that stuff. So that was really fun. And I have to say as much as I dislike Facebook, it's been really good at connecting me to other musicians and, and doing projects remotely together like this, this clarinet premiere that just happened. You know, I did a remote collaboration with a cellist that was really fun. And with a singer that was also really fun and challenging. It's actually really fun to find repertoire that works remotely. And composing has been actually really good for me during COVID. Because I still want to make music. I don't always want to play all the time. And by nature, it's very asynchronous. So there's a lot of flexibility in how you can work. Maybe a little too much flexibility. But it's, it's good to create

Nanette McGuinness:

What was the name of that clarinet piece?

Monica Chew:

Oh, sorry, Cat and Jay.

Nanette McGuinness:

And the other works you've mentioned?

Monica Chew:

Yes. Okay, so the the one for remote string quartet is called Delayed Send. And that title is a you could say it's a reference to communication lag. I wrote actually a bunch of COVID related things actually, now that I think about it, there's a I wrote a cello piece called Zoom Gloom for solo cello and electronic track, which had a bunch of I got a bunch of friends to call my voicemail and leave messages that were commonly heard things over a resume, like can somebody's typing Could you please mute unless you're talking or you know, only the top of your head is showing or you know, you're muted, or you know, lots of things like that that I'm sure everybody by now knows very well and that was really fun collaboration. What else? I did a my piano piece that I Ultra procrastinated on was called Ice Calf and back in June, that was about a walrus who had gotten on an iceberg and floated across the Atlantic and ended up in Northern Ireland where walrus is aren't supposed to live and it's amazingly, the walrus is still alive. I wouldn't have expected. Yeah, a bunch of different marine rescue groups sort of banded together and built all these floating pontoons for the walrus to like rest on and fish from. That was a fun project. In September, I wrote a piece for a project called The Illustrated Pianist, which was based on Ray Bradbury short story collection called illustrated man, where every every composer was invited to create a piece based on a short story from that collection. And I chose the long reign, which is basically about a bunch of explorers who are on the surface of the planet Venus and getting rained on constantly on their helmets or you know, bouncing raindrops off their heads and creating this pitter patter which slowly drives them insane what else happened recently these these pieces for piano and voice that I just finished and recorded on Saturday, one of them is about our a cat who is not really our cat, she's like a semi part time feral cat who moved into our yard this summer and has been getting more socialized, and I totally love her. And then the other song is a COVID depression song. It's about a lot of actually a lot of things that we've talked about, like, like Trump, and just this feeling of being totally overwhelmed. And yeah, so that one is called Swarm.

Nanette McGuinness:

[OUTRO MUSIC] Thank you for listening to For Good Measure, and a special thank you to our guest, Monica Chew for joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to our podcast by clicking on the subscribe button and support us by sharing it with your friends, posting about it on social media and leaving us a rating and a review. To learn more about E4TT Our concert season online and in the Bay Area where to make a tax deductible donation, please visit us at This podcast is made possible in part by a grant from the California Arts Council and generous donors like you. "For Good Measure" is produced by Nanette McGuinness and Ensemble for These Times, and designed by Brennan Stokes. With special thanks to audio engineer extraordinaire Stephanie Neumann. Remember to keep supporting equity in the arts and tune in next week "for good measure." [OUTRO MUSIC ENDS]

What are some upcoming events or projects you’re excited about?
Did you have anything postponed during the pandemic? What has it been like composing during “these times?”
What was the name of that clarinet piece?
And the other works you’ve mentioned?