Andrea Cheeseman is a clarinetist and teacher living in Columbia SC. Throughout her career, she has been committed to playing good music and collaborating with inspiring people who challenge her.
A versatile performer, Andrea frequently performs as a soloist and chamber musician. Although she regularly performs traditional repertoire, she is an advocate of new music and is a sought-after performer of electroacoustic music written for clarinet and bass clarinet. Wishing to promote electroacoustic music, she has toured extensively, giving recitals and masterclasses throughout the country. Additionally, Andrea has been a featured performer at festivals such as the Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival and the Electroacoustic Barn Dance and has appeared at EMM (Electronic Music Midwest) and SEAMUS (Society of Electroacoustic Music in the United States) conferences.
When not teaching or performing, Andrea spends her time gardening, swimming, practicing ashtanga yoga, and perfecting her kimchi recipe.
Today, Andrea is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. Read on to discover the friends and family who were instrumental in creating this album with Andrea…
Who was your first favorite artist growing up?
I can’t say there was any one favorite artist. I grew up in a household where music was often present. We heard genres ranging from classical, jazz, rock, showtunes, etc. Benny Goodman was probably the first clarinetist I was aware of. My first memorable introduction to contemporary classical music was a performance of the clarinet concerto by Corigliano with Richard Stoltzman as a soloist. It blew me away.
What was your most unusual performance?
When living in the Mississippi delta, I performed at a juke joint called “Po’ Monkeys Lounge” as part of an electroacoustic music festival. It was a former sharecropper shack in the middle of a cotton field and one of the last working juke joints in the delta. Its owner, who also lived there, worked in the fields and opened it up as a blues club once a week. Outside were signs prohibiting loud music, dope, or rap music. Inside were many stuffed-animal monkeys hanging from the low ceiling as well as Christmas lights and wrapping paper, baby dolls, etc. I am not sure what the “regulars” thought of our concert, but they were welcoming.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I love a good breakfast of easy over eggs smothered with grits and hash browns!
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
As long as I am collaborating with good people on interesting projects, I am happy creatively. That being said, I am drawn to nature and find inspiration when I am interacting with it. Throughout my life, I’ve been lucky to live in a variety of diverse landscapes. Having grown up in a small town on Lake Michigan, I am drawn to large bodies of water. Recently, I lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains and enjoyed hiking on the Parkway where the trails contain diverse terrain, including rhododendron lined paths, boulders, forests, and meadows. Now, I live within walking distance of a state park in South Carolina. All of these places with their striking, ever-changing scenery have influenced my approach to creating unique colors and textures on the clarinet.
What was your favorite musical moment on the album?
This is an impossible question to answer! All of the pieces contain elements that resonant with me. The ability to glide in and out of the electronic timbre in Arioso/Doubles. The hazy colors of Somewhere. The energy in Ultraviolet that ranges from mysterious to explosive to playful. The rhythmic drive of the sampled weaving loom in Penelope’s Song. The building of tension and its release in Messy. The beautiful phrases in Favorable Odds which switch gear in an unexpected way midway through the piece. And that perfect crescendo from a low G to a B in Breath.
I love all of these works because they simply feel good to play.
What does this album mean to you personally?
For about the last ten years, I have specialized in performing electroacoustic music, and I have been fortunate to have collaborated with many composers and musicians who have encouraged, challenged, and inspired me. All of the pieces included on this record are the result of these personal connections.
I enjoyed the process of recording this album. Mark Snyder, who is the co-producer and engineer for the record) and I largely recorded it at our homes in Boone NC and Jacksonville FL. Being in a comfortable living room rather than a sterile recording studio influenced the character of the album as did the breaks we took walking in the mountains or swimming in the ocean.
Finally, I am also very pleased with the album’s artwork. My mother is a visual artist who specializes in abstract watercolor and mixed media. With their bright colors and forms that are often based on landscapes, her paintings have had a major influence on my aesthetic. Her work, titled Ready, Set JUMP!, was done specifically for this project.