Frances-Marie Uitti is a composer and virtuoso cellist who pioneered the two-bow technique. A relentless collaborator and performer, she has worked with innumerable legendary composers including John Cage, Giacinto Scelsi & Iannis Xenakis since as far back as 1980. She is published by Contemporary Music Review, Cambridge Universtity Press, Granta, and Arcana among others and has given master classes worldwide for composers and string players at Yale, Stanford, Juilliard, and Harvard among many others and teaches advanced students:
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
My music comes from many different sources: some musical, some from the visual arts, some from architecture, and some from science. Meditation also gives me many ideas. This is constantly changing and mostly inspired by chance influences and encounters that move me and set my mind aflame.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I started at a very young age. I’d always loved stringed instruments, and was fascinated with the bow in particular- the gesture, the hair on the strings, the rosin. The bow is magical in all ways and each bow has a character of its own. The wood, the flexibility, the strength all influence the sound; and now that I use two in one hand, I find the journey endlessly evolving and permutating.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
I love so many different genres that I couldn’t possibly choose- it’s always shifting.
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
A sense of excitement and cutting edge cultural exploration on so many levels. Berlin is a hotbed of ideas!
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
I love the alternative cafes, the gorgeous food from all countries!
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
The End. I would suffocate.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
I’ve quit buying albums years ago, having moved houses so often.
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
When a large theater in Rome didn’t publicize a solo concert of mine and 5 people showed up (4 more than the reported Arditti Quartet concert in Canada). It was sublimely intimate and personal and the heat in the room hung on each note.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Extremely. And it informs my acoustic playing. I’ve used electronic components from my student days, and later sensors on bows, and computers in real time for much of my composing and improvising as a source of inspiration and creativity. I’ve designed many different resonators, bows, several electronic cello-like instruments, some ergonomic interfaces to steer the computer programs, and a stringless 12 sensor cello at CNMAT (University of California).
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
They have little interest in contemporary music.
Photo © Frances-Marie Uitti