OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS Q&A with Lina Andonovska, flute

The development of a musical work begins a long time before an audience sees it, with inspiration, creation, choices, and many hours of work in rehearsal, practice, recording, and organisation. We love hearing the stories of how albums or concerts get from their initial seeds of thought to the final production, and how different musicians think about their creative process and work they do. Other Side of the Tracks gives us insights into this process from a range of musicians, and provides some fantastic perspectives on music, inspiration, work, and life.

Flautist Lina Andonovska released her debut solo album A Way A Lone A Last on Diatribe Records in February 2020 (supported by the Australia Council for the Arts), a release which was derailed by the COVID-19 restrictions, along with many other plans for the year. The album features works by Irish composers including Donnacha Dennehy, Judith Ring, Nick Roth, and Barry O’Halpin. The album has been warmly received by critics, described as "an absorbing blend of cerebral concept and visceral, playful execution," [All About Jazz], and "a tour de force, and well worth a serious listen." [Journal of Music]

Lina has been an important figure in contemporary music for some time now and has built a reputation as a flute-player who is equally at home in contemporary jazz and classical music. She has been especially prominent in Ireland where she has played with groups such as Crash Ensemble, and performed works by Irish composers such as Ann Cleare, Linda Buckley, Anna Murray and Michael Gallen. Amongst other initiatives during lockdown, Lina was invited to take part in Music Network’s Butterfly Sessions with composer Judith Ring, and IMC’s Blind Date Jazz series, in a blind musical conversation with pianist Izumi Kimura.

You can buy A Way A Lone A Last now on Diatribe Records.

Q. Could you tell us about the inspiration behind 'A Way A Lone A Last'? Why these pieces and these composers?

The short answer is, I love Ireland. It’s my spiritual home. The album is a homage to the people that I have met and had the opportunity to collaborate with since moving to Ireland.

Initially, I came to Ireland to play Donnacha Dennehy’s music back in 2015. It was a very spontaneous invitation, and has significantly impacted my life since. I had played his music before, As an Nós at the Bang on a Can Festival in 2013. When I worked on The Last Hotel, it was incredibly exhilarating and deeply rewarding. It felt so natural to ask him to write me a piece, as I felt such a connection with his music. Nick Roth’s two pieces on the record are a reflection of his artistic flair and singular creativity. The album title comes from Finnegans Wake - Roth’s solo flute work is a sonic exploration of that text. Two works, including the other by Roth were written for my duo with drummer Matthew Jacobson (SlapBang). I have a long standing collaboration with Barry O’Halpin, and his piece Hox tracks wasp song, transcribed for bass flute and drum kit. This is such a unique work, with heavy interplay between the instruments creating exquisite textures. Judith Ring’s composition is intense - it explores rarely heard qualities of the flute, but also unleashes this kind of other worldly force.

I’m so proud of this recording, which was generously funded by the Australia Council for the Arts. The one thing that remains consistent throughout the album is that it shows the many facets of the instrument; I hold a fascination with the other sounds that the flute can produce - the extended sounds, another dimension almost. One of my mentors often said to me in my lessons to transcend the instrument - not to just be a flute player, but to go beyond. This has been a goal for me in both notated and improvised music.

Q. How did your plans around this release change with the COVID restrictions?

The album was released on the 28th February 2020. I was living in Frankfurt am Main at the time, I had just started a year long Masters programme with Ensemble Modern and I flew over to launch the album at New Music Dublin, alongside flautist extraordinaire Claire Chase (co-founder of International Contemporary Ensemble, MacArthur Fellow, amongst many other things) who presented her ongoing Density 2036 project as part of the show. It was such a memorable evening. Two weeks later, the worldwide lockdowns started, which pretty much eliminated any touring schedule that I had for 2020/2021, including launching the album internationally.

Q. What would you like listeners to experience when listening to the album?

Anything that they would like to! I don’t think it’s really up to me - I am just delighted that someone would take the time and care to listen.

Q. What is the most important thing to you when making music?

Open channels of communication and honesty. The ability to achieve a state of flow, or musical mindfulness.

Q. Do you think your different styles of music-making (from contemporary jazz to classical) inform your performances?

I want to move away from thinking about genres, as most of my collaborators are genre-defying artists. I think this is a goal, to no longer have the need to categorise things into classical, jazz, contemporary. So, not only to transcend the instrument, but to transcend the boxes that we are often put into, in an attempt to make sense of things. I think this is important. Currently, Matthew and I are working on a new piece composed for us by Colm O’Hara (made possible through a Music Commission Award from the Arts Council). The reason we chose to collaborate with O’Hara is because he, like Matthew and myself, is working at the forefront of contemporary musical practices as well as being an extraordinary improviser. The work fuses elements across the musical genre spectrum, or so to speak, and is a new piece of sonic art. Right before I moved back to Dublin, I worked on a project with pianist Florian Weber and Ensemble Modern that used Schonberg’s Coalition Chess as a point of departure to set the parameters of improved and composed music. The musicians who are a great inspiration to me don’t fuss with genre, it’s on the periphery of their practice.

You can buy A Way A Lone A Last now on Diatribe Records.

Find out more about Lina’s work at her website, or support her in creating music on her Patreon.

Watch Lina's performance for Blind Date Jazz with Izumi Kimura


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