Prayers for a Feverish Planet

Land of Waking Dreams (2018) – Juhi Bansal (India/Hong Kong/United States)

Juhi Bansal

Inspired by the night sky seen from the desert backcountry, Land of Waking Dreams borrows the shapes, gestures and colors of a murmuring nightscape. Pointillistic stars and murky clouds against a carpet of shifting blues. Whistling wind across open plateaus, silence and a deep resonance.

Ann adds: While not explicitly about climate change, this piece evokes ideas and images for me that are related. Poetic and somewhat lonely, with wonderful colors and textures. More than one piece in the series is about twilight/evening/nighttime, with those associations: nostalgia for what was, the darkness that accompanies night. Also, I do enjoy extended techniques, and this piece is the first I’ve ever played that requires a chain on the strings inside the piano.

Juhi Bansal

“Radiant and transcendent”, the music of Juhi Bansal weaves together themes celebrating musical and cultural diversity, nature and the environment, and strong female role models. Her music draws upon elements as disparate as progressive metal, Hindustani music, spectralism, musical theatre and choral traditions to create deeply expressive, evocative sound-worlds. As an Indian composer brought up in Hong Kong, her work draws subtly upon both those traditions, entwining them closely and intricately with the gestures of western classical music.

Recent projects include Love, Loss and Exile, a song cycle on poetry by Afghan women commissioned by Songfest; Songs from the Deep, a new orchestral work inspired by humpback whale songs commissioned by the Oregon Mozart Players; Waves of Change, a digital experience on womanhood, identity and clash of cultures inspired by the story of the Bangladesh Girls Surf Club; and Edge of a Dream, an opera about Ada Lovelace, daughter of infamous poet
Lord Byron and a 19th Century pioneer in computing commissioned by Los Angeles Opera. Recent seasons have included commissions from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Beth Morrison Projects, New York Virtuoso Singers, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, the Oakland East Bay Symphony, AIDS Quilt Songbook 20th Anniversary project and more. Her music is regularly performed throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia and available on the Naxos, Albany and Roven Records labels. Awards received for her work include prizes from the Five Colleges New Music Festival Competition, ASCAP Lotte Lehman Foundation Art song Competition, Boston Metro Opera International Composers Competition, and multiple ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer awards.

She is a staunch proponent of bringing new audiences into contemporary music and of helping musicians of all ages take ownership of music creation. She was co-founder of the New Lens Concert series, engaging audiences into contemporary music by highlighting thematic connections between repertoire new and old, and using redacted programs to create a sense of surprise around expectations of “new music”. Her teaching work focuses heavily on
demystifying composition and helping musicians from all backgrounds and levels of experience to build ownership of the fact that they too can improvise, experiment, create and share music.

A conductor as well as composer, she has been awarded fellowships by the Douglas Moore Fund for American Opera, the Atlantic Music Center, Seasons Music Festival, Oregon Bach Festival Composer’s Symposium, and the Pacific Music Festival. She frequently premieres the work of other composers and accompanies singers at the piano.

Juhi Bansal