Today I would like to introduce violinist and soprano Elizabeth Derham, who will be performing in both the string quartet and the soprano duo (with myself) in the Imaginary Timescapes performance. Before I composed Nigun for the two of us, I had the pleasure of singing with Liz, as she is known, in the soprano section of C4: the Choral Composers/Conductors Collective. She’s the kind of singer who wants to hang back after rehearsal to sing through a particularly exposed soprano part and discuss strategies for getting the intonation just right in a tricky spot. Add that to the fact that she has a clear tone and a voice that easily and evenly jumps around from below middle C to As and Bs above the staff, and you have your ideal new music singer. That she also has perfect pitch is a bonus!
In November Liz and I premiered Nigun, my work for two sopranos and electronics that we will reprise on February 16th. About the experience, Liz had the following to say: “Working on Nigun was a fantastic experience for me, both because it was my first time working with tape and because Karen’s writing is so wild. I have always loved music with electronics, so singing along with the taped voices was a real thrill, especially when we got to do it in the hall with the tape at full volume. After the experience of performing Nigun’s complex whirl of vocal textures, I can’t wait to do it again, and to perform more music of this genre.”
Like the rest of the Imaginary Timescapes string quartet, Liz is pursuing her Masters degree at Juilliard. She studies violin there with Joseph Lin and Naoko Tanaka and plays frequently with the New Juilliard Ensemble and AXIOM. Liz is an avid performer of new music, having worked with artists such as David Lang, Magnus Lindberg, Robert Wilson, and Bill T. Jones; and she has premiered numerous works by composers at Juilliard, Aspen, and Fontainebleau, as well as works by freelance composers around New York City. She has been concertmaster an co-concertmaster of numerous orchestras. Career highlights include soloing with the New York Young Musicians Ensemble on tour in Italy, playing the American and Israeli national anthems for the Pave The Way Foundation 2004 Annual Dinner at the Harmonie Club in Manhattan, winning the 2007 Abraham Katz Memorial Award in the Friday Woodmere Music Club Young Artists competition, and giving the Western Hemisphere premieres of four new string quartets at the MOMA’s Summergardens outdoor concert series.
Liz is also soon to be married—she in enaged to fellow musician Trevor Doherty, a composer also studying at Juilliard. While Liz and Trevor have yet to make their professional performing debut, they can often be heard making music together, whether it’s just reading through songs, or writing them, or performing for their friends.