How does Hall manage to make the difficult territory of new music so accessible? It’s a gift, he says. Learn more as he returns to answer the Colorado Creatives Redux questionnaire.
Nathan Hall: My creative life has certainly grown; I've been working on larger-scale projects, like a piece for 437 singers, and multimedia installations. It's amazing to be able to have travel opportunities related to my work, like a recent residency at Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh. But those big moments also seem to come every now and then, so I fill in with other gigs in between.
As a creative, what’s your vision for a more perfect Denver (or Colorado)?
I'd love a Denver that could support more non-commercial artists full-time. That and more trees; shade and clean air are priceless.
I feel this pinch all the time. There's the "write to your lawmaker" strategy, with which I've seen progress being made in baby steps. Personally, I'm more of the type to try and affect culture. When I lived in Iceland, I'd tell Icelanders I was an artist and composer, and no one balked at the thought or wondered what my day job was. My work was (and is) valid, valuable and worthy of being a profession. I tell this to people to show the value of the arts as cultural currency. You are more willing to advocate for fair housing and diversity when you know and value real people.
INSITE project and how you will be rolling it out.
My project started out with a curious question from a pianist, Tristan McKay: Could I write him some music for the toy piano? It's such a tiny, silly instrument, but it's got serious composers writing for it. So together we came up with the idea to take the toy piano out into different places in Colorado and make music based on those landscapes — the mountains, the prairie and the city. We will record these pieces and present them as videos and live performances, and combine them with participatory workshops. Together they will focus on finding inspiration from the ecosystems around us.
What advice would you give a young hopeful in your field?
It's totally okay to start small. Documentation is everything. Please be your weird self! And at the same time, try to be as approachable as you can.
I was so moved by Juntae TeeJay Hwang's work at the Denver Art Museum as Creative-in-Residence. His participatory performances made me feel uncomfortable, empowered, serious and goofy, all in the span of ten seconds.
What's on your agenda right now and in the coming year?
Right now I'm teaching music composition at CU Boulder, and working on my first piece for surround-sound inside a planetarium dome. In the coming year, I have the toy piano piece, plus a few applications in the works: I hope to go to Japan or Antarctica for a month to explore music in a very different community than I'm used to.
I want Playground Ensemble to stand out as the leader in new music in the area. Their events and education programs are so forward-thinking. I also think Adam Gordon, who operates the Temple artist studios, deserves more attention for the opportunities he has made possible. His fundraising and creative workarounds are an art themselves.
Keep up with Nathan Hall at his website, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram.