Zosha Di Castri, composer

Zosha Di Castri headshot

Zosha Di Castri is a Canadian composer and pianist based in New York. Her works, which have been performed in Canada, the USA, South America, Asia, and Europe, extend beyond pure concert music, to include projects with electronics, sound arts, and collaborations with video and dance.

Her most recent commission was for Dear Life, a 25-minute work for orchestra, soprano, and recorded narrator, based on a short story by Alice Munro, for the National Arts Center Orchestra of Canada. Other large-scale projects include a 2015 evening-length new music theatre piece, Phonobellow (co-written with David Adamcyk) for ICE with performances in New York and Montreal. Phonobellow features five musicians, a large kinetic sound sculpture, electronics, and video in a reflection on the influence of photography and phonography on human perception.

Her orchestral compositions have been commissioned by John Adams, the San Francisco Symphony, New World Symphony, and Esprit Orchestra, and have been featured by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Tokyo Symphony, Amazonas Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, among others. Zosha has made appearances with the Chicago Symphony, the L.A. Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players in their chamber music series, and has worked with many leading new music groups, including Talea Ensemble, Wet Ink, Ekmeles, Yarn/Wire, the NEM, and JACK Quartet.

She was recipient of the 2012 Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music for her work, Cortège , and participated in Ircam's Manifeste Festival in Paris, writing an interactive electronic work for ZOO, Thomas Hauert's dance company.

Other recent projects include a new string quartet for the Banff International String Quartet Competition, a two-piano piece for Yarn/Wire, a piece for two percussionists and electronics premiered at Zosha’s Miller Theatre composer portrait concert in December 2016, and a solo piano work for Julia Den Boer, commissioned by the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust Fund.

Upcoming projects include an ongoing solo percussion collaboration with Diego Espinosa, a duo with violinist Jenny Koh, a Koussevitzky commission from the Library of Congress for Steve Schick and ICE, an octet for JACK Quartet and Parker Quartet, and a new work for the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, conducted by Kent Nagano.

Zosha completed her Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance and Composition at McGill University, and has a doctorate from Columbia University in composition. She is currently the Francis Goelet Assistant Professor of Music at Columbia.

Zosha di Castri's Time-Time-Time premiered on May 20, 2022 with the Grossman Ensemble. 

Program notes:

time>>T. - - I. - - M.(time)  - - E.

Time-Time-Time explores the different ways we experience the passage of time — at times fast, at times slow, and sometimes strangely both, simultaneously. In the past two years of pandemic isolation, many of us have reflected on the distorted perception of time. In addition, I was thinking about this in the “before-times”, in relation to the early months of caring for an infant. Here, days and nights intertwine, sleep is fitful and interrupted, and life slows down to a baby’s pace. And yet, one day they are suddenly smiling, then sitting, walking, talking, and it seems impossible that it could all happen so very quickly. 

I was curious to see how these experiences of temporal disintegration and distortion could be expressed through music, and what role the body might play through performance, in affecting our perception of time. I call this the kinetic embodiment of time: how does it look to play something fast? To play something slow? To feel time in different ways, physically, as well as sonically, psychologically, emotionally? Maybe the same could be asked of listeners: how does the body feel when experiencing fast or slow music or the two concurrently?

Through a mix of slightly more open notation and fully notated passages, as well as a lexicon of returning gestures which reset and close musical phrases, serving as orienting markers throughout, I see this piece as a potential new avenue for creative exploration in my compositional process moving forward.

This piece was developed through a close collaboration with the incredible musicians of the Grossman Ensemble and with the guidance of conductor Jim Baker, and the direction of Augusta Read Thomas. I am very grateful to them for their gift of inspiration, opportunity, time, and open-mindedness.

Zosha di Castri's "Time-Time-Time"