Composer Highlight: Jesse Diener-Bennett

We’re thrilled to be performing two pieces by Jesse Diener-Bennett; Ninth for Two and A The Tree, Tree tomorrow. Jesse Diener-Bennett is a writer and composer writing and composing in Brooklyn, New York, New York. Madly in love with linguistics, he often works in the space between lyrics and poetry, music and words, meaningfulness and meaninglessness.

What is something you would like the audience to know about your piece?

When writing A The Tree, Tree, I was constantly thinking about breath. The piece is really a series of “breath-in, breath-out” phrases. It is very physical, very immediate. Ideally, lean in and listen to it like you’d listen to someone close to you saying something important – openly, attentively, and without overthinking it.

What was your inspiration/mind set when writing your piece?

This is the latest in a series of pieces for speaking solo instrumentalist, and the first for a string player. I talked with Maya about the way she thinks of breath and voice when playing the violin, and these conversations, along with my fascination with the connection between speech sounds and timbre, provided the spark for the composition. As a woodwind player, It’s been so rewarding to work with Maya and to think about the very complex, metaphorical/physical/metaphysical relationship that string players have with their voice.

Do you have any non-music related traditions that you do to get your creativity flowing?

Changing scenery is a necessity for me. If I’m at home and I’m stuck on a project, I go to a café. If I get stuck there, I go to a bar. Being in different physical spaces unlocks different headspaces, so much for me that I rarely compose for more than an hour or two in the same location.

How do you take your coffee and what’s your favorite coffee accompaniment?

I’m a pretty boring coffee drinker – I like it with a little cream and no sugar. On CRAZY days I’ll get a cortado. An everything bagel with cream cheese pairs perfectly with coffee. Or with anything else for that matter.