New Voices 2021 Q&A: Rylan Gleave

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To celebrate the selection of this year’s New Voices cohort, we caught up with all the selected artists and composers for a quick chat.

Here, we speak to New Voices 2021 composer Rylan Gleave. Rylan is a Leith-based composer and vocalist whose musical practice involves mending the unfeigned gaps in his classical study with the healings of imaginative neuro-/gender-divergent kinship. Re-emerging as a composer/performer, his recent work has explored the instrumental qualities of his late-breaking trans-masc voice through queer autoethnography, and autistic-specific notation.

Can you tell us about your musical influences?

Training originally as a mezzo-soprano has left me with a flair for the dramatic. My work draws on the unyielding shrieks of LINGUA IGNOTA, the flourishes of Purcell and Vivaldi, the quiet reflections seen in Common Eider, King Eider and Feldman, and the soft horror and melancholy of Nicole Dollanganger. Much of my writing comes from my own vocal improvisation — the odd sounds that fractured from it when I started taking Testosterone — meaning that lines can be microtonal, rhythmically stuttering, and otherwise divergent. I find myself drawn to imperfect sound, and the grains of colour behind specific and extended techniques. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Im writing a solo cello piece for Gemma Rosefield for Presteigne Festival, as part of the Royal Philharmonic Societys Composers Programme. A commission for Crossing Borders Music and Momenta Dance Company (Chicago) is in the works too, and an audio-visual piece for Birds of Paradise Theatre, as part of their Locked World commissions. Im working with National Theatre of Scotland on their Neurostages mentorship programme, and with performer Benedetta Zanetti on a multi-disciplinary piece for The Craig Armstrong Prize.  

What are you looking forward to most about New Voices?

The extended time period for developing my work is incredibly exciting, and will allow me to think critically about which elements of the project need to be at the forefront. I cant wait to meet the other artists, and get to know their work too — contextualising my work with my peers is a beautiful part of growing. 

Sound and Music gratefully acknowledges support from PRS Foundation as a Talent Development Partner:

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