BIG EARS
The Music of Annea Lockwood

The Music of Annea Lockwood

Performed by Nate Wooley & Yarn/Wire

The world seems to be finally catching up with the ideas and art of the New York-based composer from New Zealand, Annea Lockwood. After initially pursuing the study of European classical music in the 1960s, she gradually tore free of those strictures and followed a highly personal path more in touch with nature, healing, and human connection. As early as 1967 she was exploring radically unconventional sources and techniques, including a fascinating series of works involving the sound of smashing different sorts of glass, immortalized in a television news story in which her delight and glee with the chaotic, sharp-toned sounds she was producing were palpable on her smiling face.

Lockwood’s life and work changed markedly after she moved to the United States in the early 1970s, meeting her future partner, the composer Ruth Anderson, and beginning a long-run as a teacher at Hunter College in New York City. Lockwood was a close friend of Pauline Oliveros—who introduced her to Anderson—and helped her tap into a deep interest in sounds of nature, its role in history, and its relationship with humans. She has famously created sound maps of the Hudson and Danube Rivers, blending meticulous field recordings with stories and dialogue from people who lived and worked alongside these bodies of water. Some of her other works are closer to performance art, while others experiment with electronics.

More recently she’s been working closely and developing new work directly with performers, including the two ruminative pieces from her stunning 2021 album Becoming Air/Into the Vanishing Point, both of which appear on this program. The first piece is a collaboration with trumpeter Nate Wooley, an emotionally intense collage of demanding extended techniques for the unwieldy instrument, particularly overblown sounds and experiments with the horn’s disembodied mouthpiece. As Bandcamp Daily wrote, “Virtuosity is celebrated for its failure as much as its perfection, a long-time interest for the trumpeter, who, along with Lockwood, recognizes the ineffable humanity within such endeavors. It’s an intensely physical work where Wooley’s exertion and struggle is palpable, as both performer and composer pull back the curtain on the artist’s attempt to control something as organic as sound.” Lockwood worked with New York’s Yarn/Wire for the second composition, which conjures a vision of the natural world unmediated by human intervention. The program also includes the open-ended 1996 work, “Ear-Walking Woman” for “prepared piano and exploring pianist” —performed here by Laura Barger of Y/W—which the composer compares to “a hiker exploring a landscape.”

BIG EARS
Knoxville, TN · USA

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