Darkness Is Not Well Lit
50 For The Future:
The Kronos Learning
“Darkness Is Not Well Lit is a sonic imagining of film noir for string quartet as seen—and heard—from the vantage point of an electric fan.
“Orson Welles’ and John Huston’s film noir calls to mind specific settings, shot in black and white, and playing tricks of light only possible in that medium: the sweltering heat, smoke, fog, sculpted shadows, low-key lighting, a telephone and manual typewriter sitting on an imposing oak desk, a single swinging sputtering light bulb, venetian blinds, and whirring fans.
"‘There is no doubt in my mind that the most beautiful music is sad, and the most beautiful photography is in a low-key, with rich blacks.’ – film noir cinematographer, John Alton.
"‘Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.’ – Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep”
Members of the Kronos Quartet demonstrate and discuss key techniques for Darkness Is Not Well Lit.
Nicole Lizée discusses her musical background, her composition process, her relationship with Kronos, and more.
Called “a brilliant musical scientist” (CBC), “breathtakingly inventive” (Sydney Times Herald, Australia), and lauded for “creating a stir with listeners for her breathless imagination and ability to capture Gen-X and beyond generation” (Winnipeg Free Press), award winning composer and video artist composer Nicole Lizée creates new music from an eclectic mix of influences including the earliest MTV videos, turntablism, rave culture, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Alexander McQueen, thrash metal, early video game culture, 1960s psychedelia and 1960s modernism. She is fascinated by the glitches made by outmoded and well-worn technology and captures these glitches, notates them and integrates them into live performance.
Lizée’s compositions range from works for orchestra and solo turntablist featuring DJ techniques fully notated and integrated into a concert music setting, to other unorthodox instrument combinations that include the Atari 2600 video game console, omnichords, stylophones, Simon™, vintage board games, and karaoke tapes. In the broad scope of her evolving oeuvre she explores such themes as malfunction, reviving the obsolete, and the harnessing of imperfection and glitch to create a new kind of precision.
In 2001 Lizée received a Master of Music degree from McGill University. After a decade and a half of composition, her commission list of over 50 works is varied and distinguished and includes the Kronos Quartet, Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic, the BBC Proms, the San Francisco Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Banff Centre, Bang On A Can, So Percussion, and numerous others.
Lizée was recently awarded the prestigious 2019 Prix Opus for Composer of the Year. In 2017 she received the SOCAN Jan. V. Matejcek Award. In 2013 she received the Canada Council for the Arts Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music. She is a two-time JUNO nominee for composition of the year. She is a Lucas Artists Fellow (California) and a Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow (Italy). In 2015 she was selected by acclaimed composer and conductor Howard Shore to be his protégée as part of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. This Will Not Be Televised, her seminal piece for chamber ensemble and turntables, placed in the 2008 UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers’ Top 10 Works.
Lizée was the Composer in Residence at Vancouver’s Music on Main from 2016–18. She is a Korg Canada and Arturia artist.
Every time I think about Nicole, I smile. She is such a wonderfully creative spirit. Every time I get to talk to her, she's got some new thing that she's bringing into her realm, something that should have been in the forefront in the first place, but nobody else thought to bring it there. Her pieces are so fun and challenging and thrilling. They're perfect."