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Very Briefly

from Monday, April2nd of the year2012.

I haven’t had a second to write here in the last month or so, but it’s for all good reasons. I’ve been putting the finishing touches on this song cycle/instrumental cycle thing I’m co-writing with Bryce Dessner and Sufjan Stevens. It’s played out into basically nine songs with vocals in them, and two instrumental pieces (maybe three?) for the three of us, string quartet, and seven (!) trombones. We did a little workshop of it last week in Cincinnati as part of Bryce’s MusicNOW festival and are now in Eindhoven getting ready to do the actual premiere this friday.

Getting real during the workshop:

Is this ur photo? If if is, email me and I’ll credit you!

I went to London for the premiere of my cello concerto, alongside Owen Pallett’s wonderfully detuned violin concerto, with Olly Coates, Pekka Kuusisto, and the Britten Sinfonia. Nadia and Sam and Thomas came along and we did a kind of abridged version of an 802 Tour set, which concluded with Owen, Pekka, Tom Gould (for whom I wrote Seeing is Believing), and Olly joining us for a few songs, which is a sort of string playing dream team.

Owen’s piece is one of these things wherein a third or so of each section of the strings is detuned a bit, so it has the effect of creating a blurred, melting sonority. The trick is to deal in the sorts of harmonies that melt slightly into one another; I imagined, while listening to it at its first rehearsal, the kind of first steps of defrosting something in a microwave, where the edges begin to assume a different color. It’s always weird to hear Owen’s violin writing played by other people, but Pekka is so batshit genius insane that it completely worked.

We had an extraordinary series of meals in preparation for the london concerts at St John Bread & Wine:

That is the divine conductor Andrรฉ De Ridder in front of a huge pie. It’s got pheasant and pigs’ trotter up in. I love the feeling of bringing a million people together to share large dishes; it’s a hugely satisfying social moment. This particular moment was, perhaps, slightly blurred by the presence of somebody’s random parsimonious vegetarian colleague; I myself try to know only the most opulent vegetarians and the most omnivorous thrifty folk โ€” the other combination is socially untenable. However! The St John is so divine that we all, loosely, made it out alive, Parsimonious V included. Surely the definition of thrift is respecting the animal enough to eat its feet!

Nadia, Thomas, Sam and I went to Minnesota where we played at the Walker, crowd-sourced good eats on Twitter, and made friends with the mayor & his wife, who are divine. Is one called the First Lady of a city, or is there another, more obscure, term?

Today, in Eindhoven, I had the pleasure of reacquainting myself with this restaurant Usine, which is in the ground floor of what I think used to be the Philips lightbulb zone. We took our pre-production meeting there, and here is Sufjan and James, our drummer, with some snails and a specialty tong:

I love a specialty tong or forcep. When my grandmother died a few years ago, it was revealed that she had a sort of obscene collection of specialized kitchen things, tart pans of every imaginable circumference, copper faits-tout meant for what one can only imagine to be extinct fish, and innumerable salt cellars and mini pepper grinders. I have inherited a set of six mint julep cups with straws featuring built-in roughage strainers; I 4c a Moment in the summer on the roof in Chinatown! Everybody come over.


  • Hi Nico – Is there any chance I’d be able to get a copy of ‘salty dog’ from I Drink the Air Before me? I’m studying bassoon in London and would love to have a go at it, but renting the whole set is probably not viable for me!

  • Thank you for joining us in Cincinnati. You don’t mention that it was Nicofest. With Nico every night! So FUN!

  • Nico…

    Will you be present at any of the performances of “Dark Sisters” in Philly in June? I’m attending 6/10. Looking forward to it.


  • Oh dear. The premiere in Eindhoven is Friday? So how come I’ve got tickets for Saturday?

  • Amsterdam?

  • All!

  • Contact the people on the contact page and lets see what we can do

  • No, Amsterdam is on Sunday ๐Ÿ˜‰ – Eindhoven is first!

  • “Seven (!),” indeed! Where does one begin? And balance issues…

  • Hey Nico – You should check out a youtube channel by the name of smalin. He creates great and innovative music/midi visualizations.


  • Wat. How did I miss you at the Walker? Oh well. What did you good eats did you find in Minneapolis? ๐Ÿ˜€

    Also, I think I’m gonna sign up for twitter JUST so I can follow you.

  • Hey, Nico: The planet songs are great! Are you guys planning on having a commercial release of them at some point in the future?

  • Hey, Nico: The planet songs are great! Are you guys planning on having a commercial release of them at some point in the future?

  • this is the first time in my life I have ever even offhandedly been referred to as “opulent” so thank you I guess.

  • Dear Nico,

    I got this bug that told me you were/are in the netherlands. (and I know you’re like a pilgrim on sugar; so) but if you are still in the netherlands; could there be any chance of me having a compositional lesson with you? I’ve been studying for 3 years at a conservatory but have been writing since a lot earlier than that. Would love to get some intresting perspectives on my music.
    In any case; I thank you for the audio snippets of several of your works here on this site. lovin’ that stuff!