One of the rare women in the neoclassical world, Alexandra Stréliski creates music that enthralls listeners, filling their minds with rich, cinematic images (words from Alexandra Stréliski). In conversation with Alexandra, we talk about her new album INSCAPE, as well as her creative approach and musical background.
Hello Alexandra. First of all, congratulations on your release of your new album, ‘INSCAPE’.
THANK YOU! 🙂
Have you been happy with the reception of the album so far? You must be thrilled that it is out in the world to be heard! We think the album is fantastic, by the way.
I am beyond thrilled to finally have a new album out in the world! It had been 8 years since Pianoscope and I was really eager to get another one out!
The reception of INSCAPE is just amazing right now. I am getting so much love from the people who are listening. Truly, I am blessed to have such rich human contact with people through music. It’s a privilege.
Tell us more about the process of creating your album from the initial compositions, to mixing and mastering the tracks.
INSCAPE is an album that really took shape at the very last minute but I feel like is is very complete. The way I write is very intuitive, most of the time based on improvisations… In the case of INSCAPE, the album really revealed itself clearly right before going into the studio.
I wanted to give a very intimate sound to the album and so I chose to record it on the piano I have played on since I was a kid. I also purposely wanted it to sound “imperfect” for it to sound as human possible…
We have seen you describe Inscape as “an existential crisis” and “a year where everything capsized”. Could you explain this further please?
The word “Inscape” is a concept by Gerard Manley Hopkins and it means “the unique inner-nature of a person”. It is that unique point where each of one of us are singular as human beings.
The years in which I produced the album was sort of a trip towards finding that point in my life. An escape from within to find my place in the world. It also led me to quit my job, my couple, my house and pursue my musical career full time even though at the time, it was pretty scary for me to do so. I guess you don’t have to be so extreme to “inscape” within yourself… but for me, it’s the shape that it took.
There are many beautiful melodies in your album. Have these pieces been written with a specific meaning behind them or do you prefer to write music and not give each piece or the whole album a meaning?
Each piece has a very specific meaning but I usually find it afterwards, once the whole album is complete. In the case of INSCAPE there is also a sort of “chronological order” that reflects that period of introspection in my life.
Do you play any other instruments besides the piano? If so, which ones?
Sure… I can play a little guitar, percussions, a bit of bass. My job as a writer for film and ads led me to explore many different musical styles. But now I mainly focus on piano/orchestral music…though I have a project very synth-based that I’ll be doing this year.
Tell us more about your musical background and how you got to where you are today.
I have a pretty intense classical training background. I learnt the piano when I was 6 years old in Paris, then studied at the McGill Conservatory in Montreal and then did my bachelor at the University of Montreal. However, even though I was top of my class at McGill I didn’t really know how to read the notes until I went to university. I learnt to play Chopin, Bach, Brahms, Schubert, Rachmaninoff etc… but always by ear and memory. I think I always had a very intuitive relationship with music even though I was in a very academic and strict context. I also didn’t want to stay in the context of being a concert pianist. To me, it was to rigid, and too stressful because you can’t really make a mistake… there is no room for error. I needed to reinvent the context in which to be a pianist and I think the movement we call “neo-classical” now, is more suited for me.
What is the meaning of music for you?
Music is the way I express my most profound emotions… I am much better at expressing them with a piano than with words. I think if I didn’t have music in my life I might not be as “sane”… haha
Do you have any live shows coming up?
Yes, I have a couple of dates coming in but for now the next one is in Montreal on February 22nd at the Theatre Outremont. Stay tuned for more!
Should we look out for any new music or new projects from you soon?
For now I am focused on bringing INSCAPE to the stage but sure…the creation never really stops.