San Francisco Conservatory of Music
19 year-old composer Molly Monahan has had her compositions performed throughout America, Europe, and Asia. Her accolades include winning the 2016 NextNotes Composition Competition, receiving honorable mention in YoungArts 2016 and 2017, and winning the 2016 MATA Jr. Competition. With influences ranging from Copland to Saariaho, Molly’s compositions showcase a diverse musical pallet, which is evident in her acoustic and electroacoustic works. A graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, she has studied composition in a variety of places, including the Oberlin Conservatory, the Boston Conservatory, and La Schola Cantorum in Paris. She is currently studying Technology and Applied Composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
About the piece:
For musicians, performance is an inescapable part of life. It has the distinct quality of being, for many people, terrifying, while simultaneously extremely rewarding. In a performance, the musician often becomes their own worst enemy; the presence of listeners can stir up tsunamis of self-doubt in even the most prepared of musicians. So the question becomes, who will win? The hours upon hours of practice one has devoted to perfecting a few minutes of music, or that same person’s own anxiety?
Toccata, therefore, explores this internal battle between a musician’s desire to perform and their anxiety in doing so. The violinist’s beginning hint at self-doubt is reflected back to them in the form of live electronic processing, which represents the performer’s perceived judgement by the audience. This perceived outside pressure only feeds the performer more self-doubt, which in turn feeds their fear of judgement, and this cycle continues to unfold as an increasingly more violent battle inside the performer’s head. However, with growing confidence one’s perspective on performing can shift, and in the end judgement may prove to be more inspiring than terrifying…