Cellist Claire Bryant uses her voice to uplift incarcerated musicians
New Classical Tracks - Claire Bryant (Extended)
Claire Bryant — Whole Heart (Bright Shiny Things) Jump to giveaway form
“I chose to release my album at the Lee Correctional Institution,” said cellist Claire Bryant about her debut recording, Whole Heart. “It is one of the largest maximum-security prisons in South Carolina.
“I chose to do that because my group, Decoda, has done a series of songwriting workshops every year over the past eight years at Lee,” she said. “The men and this experience working with them have made me the artist I am today. I don't think I would have had the courage and bravery to create my album if it weren't for my experiences working with incarcerated musicians. Being able to share music that I love and make music with people who need an outlet for expression has reminded me why music is important.”
How is the title of the album connected to the music?
“The title of the record came at the very end. I felt like these pieces explore how music can mirror all the different human experiences in unique ways. The cello has this human voice element and these pieces represent personal relationships. This was my way of saying I’m not just a cellist — this is my whole heart. I let myself go in these performances. It was cathartic.”
Tell me about the two works influenced by the pandemic.
“The first work is SEVEN. It was composed by the wonderful cellist Andrea Casarrubios, who is a friend of mine. It refers to the 7 o’clock hour in New York City when strangers and neighbors would open their windows and bang pots and pans or clap and cheer for the vital workers who where on the front lines keeping us safe and risking their own lives for us.
“Composer Gabriela Lena Frank created a project for composers and solo artists to come together during the pandemic. In that project, composer Tanner Porter was paired with a cellist and wrote And Even These Small Wonders. In both of these pieces, the low string on the cello is tuned down one step to a B instead of a C. It gives the cello a different resonance. I like that two pieces on the record have a different tuning, giving a depth and earthy quality to the instrument.”
To hear the rest of my conversation, click on the extended interview above, or download the extended podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
Claire Bryant — Whole Heart (Bright Shiny Things online store)
Claire Bryant (official site)