An Interview With Inscape*
It’s time you got to know Inscape* a little better. Their current album, “Sprung Rhythm” has been out for just a couple of weeks. We’re getting great feedback and are looking forward to the reviews the will be coming in over the next weeks.
If you haven’t heard the album yet, here’s a sample:
I’ve exchanged emails with Inscape’s Artistic Director, Richard Scerbo. Here are his answers to a few questions we had:
Tell me a little bit about the history of Inscape.
Inscape’s roots trace back to a group of enterprising and talented musicians at the University of Maryland School of Music that joined together to start a student-run chamber orchestra. Upon graduation, the group remained together to start Inscape under Artistic Director, Richard Scerbo where they became Ensemble-in-Residence at The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Bethesda, Maryland. The group has had many successful seasons since then, including numerous return engagements at the National Gallery of Art, performances of two semi-staged operas, and the commissioning of over twenty-five new works from emerging American composers.
Your new album is Sprung Rhythm. How did Sprung Rhythm come about? What was the process by which you ended up doing an entire recording of world premieres?
Throughout our history, Inscape has worked to promote American music. We have frequently commissioned and performed works by emerging composers, and this album represents six such pieces by three composers with whom we have worked most closely over the last several seasons.
What does Sprung Rhythm mean?
“Sprung rhythm” comes from the literary world, and is a poetic rhythm attributed to Gerard Manely Hopkins, who also happened to coin the term “inscape.” This poetic rhythm mimics the natural rhythm of speech, with stress on the first syllable followed by a variable number of subsequent unstressed syllables.
How involved were the composers in the recording process?
The composers attended our rehearsals leading up to the recording session, helping to guide the interpretation of the work. They also were in the booth during the recording sessions at Sono Luminus.
How did you meet the composers?
All three composers on the album have worked with Inscape for a number of years. Joseph Hallman and Justin Boyer are longtime friends with Executive Director and clarinetist Evan Ross Solomon. Joseph and Evan were in the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra as teenagers (Joe was a bassoonist), and Justin and Evan attended the Peabody Conservatory. Artistic Director Richard Scerbo met Nathan Lincoln-DeCusatis at the University of Maryland School of Music while Nathan was earing his doctorate in composition.
You also perform more standard repertoire, right? Tell me about that. Is there a typical concert for you?
Yes, our concerts include a mix of repertoire. While there is no set formula for what constitutes an Inscape concert, we do commission a number of works each season from American composers. All of the works heard on “Sprung Rhythm” were commissioned by Inscape and performed at concerts alongside more standard chamber orchestra repertoire.
How often does Inscape perform? Can you tell us about some upcoming performances?
Inscape performs approximately seven concerts in the Washington area each season, as well as a number of concerts at other locations on the East Coast, including the Pikes Falls Chamber Music Festival in Jamaica, VT.
Our season opens with a gala concert at the Strathmore Mansion in Bethesda on September 12th. This concert will highlight the “Sprung Rhythm” album, including a performance of Joseph Hallman’s imagined landscapes: six Lovecraftian elsewheres. In October, we perform a concert entitled “Songs of the Earth” which takes listeners on a musical journey through a number of cultures with works by Lucian Berio, Dan Visconti, and Gustav Mahler. Our full season can be found online at inscape.org.
What’s next for Inscape?
Inscape returns to the Sono Luminus studio in August to record Paul Hindemith’s Hérodiade, a beautiful but neglected score commissioned by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge for famed American choreographer Martha Graham. It was premiered at the Library of Congress in 1944 alongside Aaron Copland’s beloved score, Appalachian Spring. Hérodiade has been in our repertoire for a number of years, and we are excited for its upcoming digital release.
You may find high resolution downloads at: