December 2013 Student Spotlight


Name: Molly Joyce

Year & Discipline: B.M. '14, composition

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

What age were you when you first became serious about pursuing music as a profession?

I think around my sophomore year of high school or so I started seriously pursuing feedback on my music and also applying to summer festivals and competitions. I had always played music since elementary school, going from violin to cello to trumpet; however, before the start of my second grade school year I experienced a traumatic car accident which caused a near amputation to my left hand. Thus because my left hand has since been slightly impaired, I feel that I have never been able to have full technical ability on the instruments that I played. This is what I think attracted me most at first to composing music, in that there was no immediate physical limitation, and I didn’t fully realize this until I was sixteen or so.

What do you love about music, and who is your biggest inspiration?

Where to start! My first thought is that I love music because it is the easiest and hardest thing I know how to do, at least composing music. It constantly challenges me but also reinvigorates me every day and gives me purpose in life. Regarding my biggest inspiration, that is definitely tough for me to answer as I feel extremely lucky to have so many great mentors and inspirations; however, I think I’d have to say composer Missy Mazzoli. I have been studying with her for a couple years and have also recently started working as her assistant. To me everything she does is incredibly inventive and admirable.

What are some of your hobbies outside of composing?

I really love to run, especially in New York City, and I hope to run the New York City Marathon one day. I also love visual art, dance, and exploring New York City.

Tell us a little bit about your creative process.

My inspiration can often come from many different places, sometimes on the subway or sitting at home at my desk; however, once I have an idea for the length, instrumentation, and perhaps my goal for the piece musically, I generally try to map the form out for the piece visually. This usually involves taking a smaller piece of paper, such as a notecard and drawing a sort of graph to represent the emotional arch for the piece. I like to view the whole process as if I’m looking at the piece with a microscope, and the closer I get to finishing the piece and adding in details, I am zooming in with the microscope more and thus the clearer the piece is becoming.

In your opinion, how has technology influenced composition in the 21st century? Is it something you incorporate into your own style?

Technology has definitely been instrumental in defining composition in the 21st century, in my opinion. Since many composers now compose directly into the computer with notation software such as Sibelius and Finale, it can make the compositional process much faster. In regards to technology as influencing 21st century style, although not every composer utilizes technology in their work, for me it is something that I feel is very important in my work. I love combining electronics with acoustic instruments, in which I usually record samples from acoustic instruments and then process these samples electronically to create an electronic playback for a live musician to perform with.

What role has the Center for Innovation in the Arts played in your journey at Juilliard thus far?

I could definitely not be more thankful for the Center for Innovation in the Arts (CIA) at Juilliard. For me personally, it has provided the opportunity to expand my imagination and knowledge in regards to composing with electronics, and therefore I feel has opened up many new avenues in my career. The ability to have the resources that the CIA offers such as a recording studio and great faculty is invaluable to a student composer such as myself.

How has working with other disciplines, outside of music, impacted you as an artist?

For me one of the greatest aspects at Juilliard is the Dance Division. Specifically as a musician and composer, I am very inspired by dance and also love the opportunity to collaborate with creative artists of other disciplines. Working with dancers has definitely made me think more about the timing and physicality involved in creating and performing music as well as the visual elements involved. In addition, I also have upcoming projects with a visual artist and playwright, and I feel that collaborating with other artists helps me put a more objective perspective on my music and art in general.

Did or will you have any performances of your work this semester?

I will be having my graduation recital on January 24, at 8:00 p.m. in Paul Hall, at which I plan to feature many of the artists at Juilliard with whom I have been very fortunate to work so far. This includes my ensemble, Fekta, and choreographers Leiland Charles and Kelsey Connolly. In addition, I am very honored and excited to be writing a piece for the New Juilliard Ensemble, which will premiere on April 1 at 8:00 p.m. in Alice Tully Hall.

To learn more about Molly and her work, please visit www.mollyjoycemusic.com! Be sure to check out January's Student Spotlight as we take a closer look at Juilliard’s cross divisional course, “Composer’s & Choreographers”.

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