In celebration of 91Classical’s Local Composers Month, we posed six questions to some of Nashville’s classical music creators. This week’s featured composer is Timbre Cierpke, who feels equally at home performing and composing both classical and pop music.
How would you describe your compositional style?
I would call myself a romantic minimalist. I love the rich, emotional chord structures of the romantic era, especially of composers like Debussy, Satie, and Ravel, but am also drawn in by the meditative repetition of minimalism, as heard in the early works of Arvo Pärt, Phillip Glass, and John Adams. My works move comfortably in both complexity and peaceful simplicity.
What do you love about being a composer in Nashville?
Nashville is home to so many highly talented musicians who carry the skill of classical training into the excitement of new music. I feel like people here are ready to partner with what they love. There is nothing like feeling the energy of a player get poured into something I’ve written.
Can you tell us about something you’re writing now?
I am working on a song cycle that explores synesthesia, and our overall relationship to sound and color as it relates to our emotions. I have done extensive research on the keys people tend to associate with each color, as well as the emotions generally attached to each color. I plan to write both an acapella choral piece and a string quartet for each color, letting the specific timbres of each ensemble inform how the color is explored. I am also writing poems based on the colors’ emotional implications to set for the acapella choral pieces.
Which composer do you wish was better known?
I am currently in a run of concerts singing the lead for a folk opera by Rachel Grimes, a composer from Kentucky. Her work is so rich and beautiful, and her piano playing is precise and passionate. Her new opera,
The Way Forth, is something I hope a lot of people discover.
Sun and Moon, explored the relationship between classical music and other popular styles. What did you discover while writing it?
I was excited to find that many of my fans who came to this album as fans of my band had never listened to an orchestra, or any classical music for that matter, and yet fell in love with the classical pieces on the album. I was surprised to read review after review that mentioned
St Cecilia: An Ode to Music as their favourite “song” on the album. Considering that this piece is over 13 minutes long, features full orchestra, choir, and myself on harp while singing in a more classical soprano style, I was encouraged and excited to know that people were able to connect to it, even though it was so outside of their normal musical spectrum. It showed me that popular music listeners only need the opportunity, and a few strategically placed bridges, to fall in love with classical music.
When you think about the future of classical music composition, what do you envision?
I think people are looking for genuine, unique experiences. This generation seems to be moving away from easy, quick, surface level entertainment, looking instead for something that will move them deeply. The desire for something authentic and beautiful is not easily satiated, and I think classical music will be sought out as people seek to dig deeper.
Find more about Timbre and her music on her