INTERSECTIONS from the dynamic chamber group Khemia Ensemble invites listeners to meditate on the confluence of beginnings, endings, and the hope and grief that can accompany those events. By showcasing commissioned music by five living composers, Khemia Ensemble demonstrates their commitment to reflecting broader perspectives in contemporary classical chamber music.

Today, members of the Khemia Ensemble are the featured artists in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to learn about each ensemble member’s favorite artists, hopes for their Ravello Records release, and more…

Who was your first favorite artist growing up?

Amy: Weezer!

Thiago: O Rappa

Shane: Garth Brooks

Chelsea: It’s too hard to choose! In addition to all the 90’s girl and boy bands, I had No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom and Jamie Cullum’s Twentysomething album on repeat.

Eli: Midori

Er-Gene: Whitney Houston, Aphex Twin, Bjork, Ani DiFranco

When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

Annie: When I realized that I didn’t have to pass organic chemistry class. (I was a premed major in college).

What is your guilty pleasure?

Shane: Pizza…lots of pizza

Eli: Ice cream!

Annie: Buying snacks from Trader Joe’s and eating them in one sitting.

If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

Thiago: Basel, Switzerland. I lived there and it is a special place for me. The city is a place where art is celebrated and fostered, which makes an ideal place to be in contact with a diverse group of artists.

Shane: In a mountain lodge…so I can ski, hike, and mountain bike after I am done being creative!

If you instantly had expertise performing one instrument what instrument would that be?

Amy: I would love to be an Andrew Bird-level professional whistler.

Shane: Electric bass

Chelsea: Piano+guitar+singer/songwriter

Annie: I would hands down play accordion. It’s kind of like piano but I can travel with it and be on the move!

What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

Mary: My favorite musical moment on the album is the “beat drop” in Nina Shekhar’s Don’t Beat a Word. Nina does an incredible job of building to that moment in a way that not only connects with the audience, but also the performers. What I love about that moment most is that every time we play it, even on the first read-through and even in casual sound checks or dress rehearsals, we all look up at each other, move in unison, and (those that are able to because they don’t have an instrument on their face) smile! It’s a really nice moment of connection on stage.

Shane: The nature sounds that are electric and acoustic in Nick Benavides’ piece Little Cloud. Specifically, the bird sounds I cue at various moments reminds me of Alan Menken, the famous composer with Disney.

What does this album mean to you personally?

Amy: There are so many different connections coming together on this one album, it feels like this beautiful celebration of years of work, both individually and as a group. It’s an immense honor and joy to bring this music alive with everyone, especially having so many personal connections with the composers we commissioned.

Thiago: This album means to me a rebirth, a new chance. After a complicated year and half navigating Covid, having the group going through some transformation, when the group finally got together to make the recordings, it felt like a new beginning, it reminded me how important music was for me and how I sincerely missed playing with my friends.

Shane: Not only is the album meaningful because of the organic connections and personal work that went into the composition, workshopping, performing, and recording of the album with all involved, but it is also the first album I have been on that I have personally been a part of the entire creative process!

Mary: Every piece on this album speaks to me in a different way, and I am moved and inspired by the stories behind each piece. Most meaningful to me though is the fact that this project spanned the time before, during, and after the pandemic. It was a way for Khemia to keep collaborating and discussing our shared vision when so much art, music, and collaboration was taken away from us. We began rehearsing one piece in 2019, learned others virtually from our own homes in 2020, completed recording in 2021, and ultimately released the album in 2022. Several of the pieces were a product of the pandemic, and I think they will mark this time in a really meaningful way.

Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?

Er-Gene: I’m hoping audiences will feel that this album shows a balance of beauty, truth and social impact/commentary.

Chelsea: I would love to invite people who may not be as familiar with classical music to listen to Khemia’s INTERSECTIONS album and feel welcome. Whether they connect to the text, the influences from multiple genres of music, or the variety of sound worlds — there is something for everyone!

  • Khemia Ensemble

    Hailed by the Columbia Daily Tribune as adding a “fresh dimension” to the concert experience, Khemia Ensemble is dedicated to reflecting broader perspectives in contemporary classical chamber music. With its dynamic instrumentation (soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, two percussion), Khemia’s unique sound world encompasses the presentation of new classical music with a mix of acoustic chamber works, multimedia, and multi-genre influences.