Review in Musicworks of “She Lost Her Voice That’s How We Knew”

A wonderful  review of the CD recording of my chamber opera She Lost Her Voice That’s How We Knew appeared in Musicworks magazine.  Reviewer Cecilia Livingston writes:  

Frances White’s music is spectacularly beautiful: soprano Kristin Norderval’s voice blooms through the electronics’ drowned tonality, as the piece explores “the necessity of putting into words experiences that are beyond words, or where words have been suppressed.”
With the clarity and elegance (and, in places, the gorgeous vocal polyphony) many listeners will associate with early music, this startling new sound world offers music so atmospheric and sensuous it is almost fragrant.

Between here and not here


Between here and not here, a collaboration between me and the brilliant visual artist Jim Toia, will be premiered on Saturday May 14 at 8pm at The DiMenna Center, Cary Hall (450 W37th Street).  Scored for alto flute, viola, piano, electronic sound, and video, this work was commissioned by The New York Viola Society with funding provided by The American Music Center’s Commissioning Music USA grant (formerly Meet the Composer). Between here and not here explores the inevitable experience of loss: the passage between the states of presence and absence, above and below, life and death. Over the course of the piece, the music’s expressive nature is gradually erased into silence—a reminder of those larger processes that gradually dissolve the self. Jim Toia’s video consists of images of water, visual meditations on its different stages of calm and agitation. The images gradually become more abstract; they are projected onto ephemeral materials which fade away as video and music dissolve.  The two media inform and transform each other: sound disappearing into silence, form into abstraction, longing into emptiness.

 Between here and not here  will be performed by these fantastic musicians from Ensemble Meme: Barry Crawford, flute; Liuh-Wen Ting, viola; and Molly Morkoski, piano.

New CD Release

On October 9th, Ravello Records (a PARMA label) will release a CD recording of my chamber opera for solo voice and electronic sound, She Lost Her Voice That’s How We Knew. This work was a collaboration with soprano Kristin Norderval and Valeria Vasilevski, who directed and wrote the libretto.

She Lost Her Voice That’s How We Knew moves through situations of trauma or awe, exploring the necessity to put into words what is unspeakable. Valeria based her text on conversations the three of us had when we first began the collaboration. We talked about many things, including some of the most profound events in our lives: times of trauma, death, awe, wonder. At these moments, experiences beyond words, we found that we lost our voices and faced silence.  She Lost Her Voice, That’s How We Knew grew from this insight.

While coming from our personal stories, the work is also open to the larger and more universal issues that are implied by the idea of this loss of voice. While there is no explicit, linear narrative, the piece does suggest an interior drama, from which a definite persona emerges. This persona has multiple voices: an inner voice, a voice of memory, a public voice, a private voice, a spoken voice, a singing voice, and a voice silenced by the fears that define our time. The “voice” struggles to reveal her secret, but questions if there is willingness to even listen.  Relentlessly, she searches for the heart that receives even the most despicable, or most desirable, truth. At the same time, she is also a listener, hearing the cries of all these different voices.

It has been an honor and a joy to collaborate with Kristin and Valeria.  They are both great, great artists, and also deeply beautiful and compassionate human beings. Creating She Lost Her Voice, That’s How We Knew required us to trust each other profoundly, as we shared some of the darkest, and also the most transcendent experiences of our lives.  I am overjoyed that the result of this loving and profound collaboration will now be available to many new listeners!

Kristin, Valeria and I plan  on a CD release event on October 28 at Spectrum in NYC.  I’ll post more about that soon, as we work out the details.  In the meantime, a video with excerpts from the piece:

The Old Rose Reader

In 2004, I wrote The Old Rose Reader for the magnificent violinist/composer Mari Kimura.   This work is for violin, electronic sound, and video, and the text and video were created by my husband, James Pritchett.  The text is beautifully read by Mari’s husband, Hervé Bronnimann.  The original video of Mari’s performance is now available online:

I guess composers always have a deep connection to each of their works – but for me, The Old Rose Reader has  a  particularly special place in my heart.   It is a loving collaboration between two couples, and somehow everything in the piece just seemed to come together like magic.  I will always be grateful to Mari and Hervé for their exquisite performances, and to James for his beautiful and haunting text and video.

Random Access Music

I am happy to announce that I have been invited to join Random Access Music, a composers collective.  This wonderful group of artists is involved in a lot of exciting activities, including producing a number of innovative concerts throughout the year, collaborations with many fantastic ensembles, and running the annual Queens New Music Festival.   I have already had a chance to experience working with them, as last November I was their guest composer for a collaboration with the beautiful viol consort Parthenia.  I’m looking forward to a long and productive association with this talented group of composers!

Here’s a video of  From a fairy tale,  the piece that I created for Parthenia for this concert.

A new choral work, and “best-of” list!

I’m delighted to announce that I just received a commission from The Crossing, a fantastic professional chamber choir based in Philadelphia.  I was one of three composers chosen to create a new work for the group, to be premiered next June at the Crane Arts Center in Philadelphia, in their exquisite Icebox performance space.  This project is exciting for me for a number of reasons.  First, it will be another collaboration with James Pritchett, who will create a text for me.  Second, the Icebox space has an amazing,  utterly beautifully reverberant acoustic, which I find uniquely inspiring.  And finally, its a chance to write for a really magnificent ensemble, and to further explore the fascinating world of choral music.

In other news, my CD In the library of dreams, available on the Pogus Productions label, was selected as Best Modern Classical Album, New Music, at Gapplegate Music Review!

From a fairy tale


I am honored to be a guest composer with Random Access Music composer’s collective this season, on a concert of new music for the viol consort Parthenia : “Prisms: Ancient Courses in a New Light”.  I was invited to write a new composition for the consort, and was delighted to be given the opportunity to work again with these fantastic musicians!  My new piece, From a fairy tale, is accompanied by a text by James Pritchett, which will be narrated by Valeria Vasilevski.  To read more about the text, and to hear Valeria read it, visit James’ blog post.  Parthenia is presenting this concert twice, on Friday November 8 and Saturday November 9.

The details:

Friday November 8, 8pm, Benzaquen Hall, DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 W 37th Street, NYC

Tickets: $20 (800-838-3006)

Saturday, November 9, 8pm, Waltz-Astoria
23-14 Ditmars Boulevard
Astoria, NY 11105

Table fee: $10 (718-956-8742)



Ussachevsky Festival February 1 and 2, 2013

I’m excited about the upcoming 2013 Ussachevsky Memorial Festival at Pomona College in Claremont, CA (near Los Angeles) where I’ll be guest composer this year. What makes it particularly nice is that my husband James Pritchett, writer and expert on the music of John Cage, will also be a guest at the festival! There will be performances of several of my pieces, and James and I will be giving a lecture about our work. For more information, visit the Pomona music department calendar.

In particular I wanted to mention that violist Cynthia Fogg will be playing my The book of roses and memory.  Here’s a link to a video of  her beautiful performance of my A veil barely seen at last year’s festival.  Enjoy!

Commissioning Music USA

I’m delighted to announce that I received an award from Commissioning Music USA to create a new work in collaboration with the brilliant artist Karen LaMonteMusic for emptiness/music for empty chairs will be a 20 minute work for flute, viola, electronic sound, and video.   Karen describes the video:  “The objective is to create a visual experience that parallels the phenomena of echo and sound as it travels toward silence.”  In the music, I will attempt to embody these phenomena as expressed by the visuals.  The empty chairs suggest absence, and their disintegration the inevitability of loss.  The musical language will start with the human, emotional experience of loss, and gradually erase that into silence.  In particular, I will explore the nature of sonic decay – what Morton Feldman called “this departing landscape.”  Thus the starting point for the piece is the idea of transformation:  sound disappearing into silence, form into abstraction, longing into emptiness.

Music for emptiness/music for empty chairs is commissioned by The New York Viola Society.  The NYVS will present the premiere in late 2013 or early ’14.  I’d also like to thank The Classical Recording Foundation for acting as our fiscal sponsor.  I’m very excited about this new project, and look forward to starting on it soon!

Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music

I just found out that I am featured as one of the composers of the month (September 2012) at the Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music. If you’d like to check out the page, here is a link:

If you are not familiar with Pytheas, here’s a description from their home page:

“The Pytheas Center for Contemporary Music is a wide ranging web nexus for contemporary concert music. Our mission is to promote contemporary composers and their music through information, understanding and performances.

Contemporary classical/art/concert music is a living art form, fed by the creativity of composers across the country and around the globe. Finding inspiration from a multitude of sources, this music springs from a well-known and beloved past, yet travels new avenues and explores amazingly diverse sound worlds. There are more composers writing music now than there ever have been in the history of the world, and our goal is to help you connect with them and enjoy their art.”

You can visit at:

I also have another video link to share.  This time, its to a beautiful piece of fabric art by Ke-Sook Lee, called Green Hammock.  Scott Anderson created the video, and used an excerpt from my Walk through “Resonant Landscape” No. 2 as the sound track.  Enjoy!