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In the Club with: Hannah Collins

For our twelfth episode we are thrilled to welcome cellist Hannah Collins and percussionist Mike Compitello of New Morse Code. Welcome, Hannah!

Tell us about some recent musical experiences that you particularly enjoyed.

C. Tangana’s Tiny Desk Concert:

I wasn’t familiar with this Spanish rapper until seeing this Tiny Desk Concert home edition, but it has a great vibe with his extended family and friends gathered around a table in Madrid, clapping and singing together.

Returning to my upstate New York hometown in June to play music by JP Jofre, Jessie Montgomery, and Johannes Brahms at the historic Smith Opera House as part of the Geneva Music Festival after a year away from home was a special experience.

Who are some composers or ensembles you’ve been enjoying listening to lately?

Miguel Zenon, OHMME, Tarek Yamani, Lake Street Dive

Is there a moment or experience that got you interested in contemporary music?

There have been many, usually involving being able to work with inspiring people who put their whole brain, heart, and soul into a project. One particularly impactful experience was working with Kaija Saariaho and Anssi Karttunen at the Creative Dialogue Workshop when I was a student. They have such a wonderful collaborative relationship which has resulted in some of my favorite pieces ever written for cello.

What do you think is the role of new music today?

There are limitless possibilities for making new music today! These past few years have been a real rollercoaster of emotions and experiences for the entire globe. Music and arts in general are essential to every community, as a practice, as documentation, as a mode of processing, as a medium for connection, and as a means to express the inexpressible. We need music and arts to dream forward and reflect back, to call us to attention, to focus our thoughts, to help us contemplate our existence.

Are there any current trends in contemporary music that you’re particularly excited about?

With everyone creating so much video content these days, I love how easy it is to connect with other people in your specific interest area to compare notes and then actually see the results. For example, it’s always fun to hear from other musicians who are working on one of the solo or duo pieces that I have commissioned and have questions or ideas they want to share (or to be the person reaching out to someone else for the same reason). This way of helping to usher a piece into the larger community has always been a special part of the tradition in contemporary music, but it has never been easier. And now we can actually usually see the resulting performance or listen to the resulting recording which makes it so much more fun!

Outside of music, what are some other types of art or entertainment that you particularly enjoy?


Thank you so much for joining us, Hannah!

Cellist Hannah Collins, winner of De Linkprijs for contemporary interpretation, is a dynamic performer who takes an active role in expanding the repertoire for cello. She has commissioned solo works by composers such as Caroline Shaw and Timo Andres and studied European solo cello works in France and The Netherlands with support from the Presser Foundation. Hannah continues to catalyze and champion the works of compelling young composers with New Morse Code, her duo with percussionist Michael Compitello. New Morse Code's 2017 debut album Simplicity Itself on New Focus Recordings was praised by for “clarity of artistic vision and their near-perfect synchronicity.” They were recently named the winners of the 2020 Ariel Avant Impact Performance Prize.

Hannah performed at festivals such as Orford Centre d'arts, Kneisel Hall, Aldeburgh Festival, and Musique de Chambre à Giverny. She is a member of the Chanterelle Trio and Cantata Profana, and has recently performed with Quodlibet Ensemble, Bach Aria Soloists, A Far Cry, Talea Ensemble, and The Knights. Praised for her “incisive, vibrant continuo” playing (S. Florida Classical Review), Hannah also appears regularly as a Baroque cellist with the Sebastians, New York Baroque Incorporated, and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra.

Hannah earned a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Yale and holds graduate degrees in cello performance from the Yale School of Music and the Royal Conservatory of The Hague. She is an alumna of Ensemble Connect, a fellowship focused on performance, teaching artistry, and arts advocacy run by Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and Weill Music Institute. Her principal mentors have included Stefan Reuss, Ole Akahoshi, Aldo Parisot, Michel Strauss, Robert Mealy, and Marcy Rosen. Hannah is currently Assistant Professor of Cello at the University of Kansas School of Music and Assistant Director of the Avaloch Farm Music Institute.

Headshot by John Paul Henry; New Morse Code photo by Tatiana Daubeck

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