Violist Nadia Sirota is one of those musicians whose talents seem constantly to be in demand. She regularly plays with New York-based “indie-classical” ensembles like yMusic, Alarm Will Sound and the Wordless Music Orchestra. She’s worked as a host for Q2 -- an online music station affiliated with WQXR (WNYC’s classical music sister station). And she’s provided viola accompaniment for like-minded boundary-pushing artists like Doveman, Arcade Fire, The National, and Shara Worden, the Detroit-based musician and leader of My Brightest Diamond.
In fact, Worden originally composed "From The Invisible To The Visible" -- the second track on Sirota’s upcoming album, Baroque (out March 26) -- for a recital given by organist James McVinnie last year.
Inspired by a conversation with contemporary classical composer Nico Muhly, Worden says she wrote the piece with the church calendar in mind.
“I wrote this piece after Christmas, and I was thinking about how Jesus was said to have come from heaven,” Worden explains in a recent email. “So I called the piece ‘From The Invisible To The Visible.' I put as many descending scales in as possible, just to be cliché, even though I am not sure that heaven is up and earth is down in direction. (I suspect the universe goes more sideways, like a hologram.)”
The piece starts out with the organ playing the aforementioned downward scales, reminiscent of Bach’s Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel Hoch -- or the sound that Pac-Man makes when he bumps into Blinky or Pinky. A syncopated bass line brings us solidly back to the modern day -- and after several more organ runs, the viola’s legato line joins in. The piece continues as a sometimes wistful, sometimes playful conversation between the two instruments. And then, as suddenly as it began, it’s over.
It’s the sort of piece that reveals more and more with every listen.