For Good Measure, by Ensemble for These Times (E4TT)
Episode 59: Elinor Armer
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In this week’s episode, we talk to Elinor Armer about navigating through the pandemic as a composer and professor at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. If you enjoyed today’s conversation and want to know more about Elinor Armer, check her out here: www.elinorarmer.com/. Parts of this episode originally premiered on August 2020, 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 Otter.ai.
Producer, Host, and E4TT co-founder: Nanette McGuinness
Audio Engineer: Stephanie M. Neumann
Podcast Cover Art: Brennan Stokes
Interns: Roziht Edwards and Merve Tokar
[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're joined by Elinor Armer, who we spoke to in August 2020 [INTRO MUSIC ENDS]. Thank you so much for making the time to chat with us. I wanted to ask you how you've been adjusting to online learning and what it was like teaching your composition students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music this semester?Elinor Armer:
Well, it was surprisingly effective. We did it all through email. I had one day a week for each student, they would send me their compositions, the scores and MIDI recordings of them their compositions in progress. And then I was at leisure, to study the scores and listen to the recordings. And also, they would send me comments and questions and so on. And then I would take plenty of time to respond with suggestions and reactions and ideas and further questions. So in in a sense, it worked very much like a lesson except that it was spread out over a couple of days for each student, because I told them, I would respond to them no later than two days after they sent me their work. So it was spread out in the course of a week. And it worked surprisingly well. On the downside, of course, we missed seeing each other and we missed laughter and we missed spontaneity, in a way, the one thing that I missed, and I'm sure they did, too, was my being able to demonstrate anything at the piano or, you know, go over their score and play parts of it and suggest that it might go this way or that way. But it worked out. Okay.Nanette McGuinness:
Well, I think in these times, we'll take okay.Elinor Armer:
I think you're right, yeah, I missed the contact, of course, I miss it terribly. And I'm sure they do too. But in a way we honed our skills, our communication skills, all Remar because we had to think how to put things. And we had time to think about what we wanted to say or do.Nanette McGuinness:
It's inspiring to me that as artists, we're finding ways to continue and to grow in this unprecedented time.Elinor Armer:
I am also inspired by that and very moved, I'm moved by the length to which people will go to continue to communicate.Nanette McGuinness:
The only thing else I would ask you is how you feel your artistic life has changed during this time.Elinor Armer:
I continue composing very much as I always did. Composing does not require being in person with anybody else, until such time as things have to be recorded, or rehearsed. And then of course, one has to be very social, even without the social distancing. When I'm not cleaning the house gardening, I am composing and I am in the middle of producing a CD of my settings of poems by Ursula Le Gwen, who was my good friend and collaborator and who died a couple of years ago. This is going to be a memorial album. And David Garner is going to be my producer is already I should say my producer, some of it is already in the can and some of it has yet to be composed. So I am working on that.Nanette McGuinness:
It makes me so happy to know that we can still be making art during this time and that you have a new and a continuing project you're still able to work on.Elinor Armer:
Yes well in the way that I usually do it virus or no virus. Okay, well I very much appreciate your you're doing this and I appreciate your patience and and and your know how.Nanette McGuinness:
[OUTRO MUSIC] Thank you for listening to For Good Measure, and a special thank you to our guest, Elinor Armer 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, or to make a tax deductible donation, please visit us at www.E4TT.org. 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]