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Scottsdale One Exclusive by: Laura Strickland of AZ Pro Arte

While you may think that you have to go to New York, Chicago or even Phoenix to mingle with the best of today’s international musical talent, we would like to introduce you to Ingrid Stölzel, a native of Baden-Württemberg, Germany (in the southwest region of the country), who will have her award-winning music performed right here in Scottsdale.

Dr. Stölzel will be coming to Scottsdale from Kansas City, MO as a winner of Arizona Pro Arte Ensemble’s Call for Scores competition. Arizona Pro Arte Ensemble is a flexible ensemble model for innovation in the performance of classical music in Arizona through the presentation of expert-level collaborative performances. In its quest to bring audiences the most exciting programming available, Arizona Pro Arte offered a “Call for Scores” project for Chamber Orchestra that received entries from around the world. As the winner of this competition, Dr. Stölzel’s work will be performed on Arizona Pro Arte Ensemble’s upcoming concerts in March.

Dr. Stölzel, holding a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from University of Missouri–Kansas City, just accepted a new position as Director of the International Center for Music at Park University, a program that brings amazing talent from around the world to the University. She will be traveling to Scottsdale for Arizona Pro Arte Ensemble’s performance of her award-winning work this March.

Dr. Stölzel decided to submit her piece, Genius Loci, to Arizona Pro Arte’s competition when she learned that the winning composition would be performed alongside Faure’s Requiem, a piece that she adores. She thought Genius Loci would be a perfect fit and Arizona Pro Arte agreed!

We caught up with Dr. Stölzel to interview her and found out more about this fascinating composer and her work.

What was the most important event or defining moment of your life?
When I was 16, I received a scholarship from the “German Parliament/US Congress Youth Exchange Program” to spend a year in the U.S. I lived with an American family in Iowa City, Iowa. It was an amazing experience and I learned so much about myself that year. I knew that I would eventually come back and live in the United States.

How do you feel about being a musician, and a composer, in general?
One of my all time favorite quotes is from Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg (The Magic Mountain) which sums up how I feel about my music and being a composer: “Musik erweckt die Zeit.” (Music awakens time)

What is your mission as a composer?
My goal as a composer is simply to connect – connect to the listener, connect to the performer and connect to myself. In order for connection to happen in life and in music, we need to allow ourselves to be seen and heard authentically, removing all of those layers we wrap around our literal and figurative self. I believe audiences will connect with authentic artistic expression. If I’m genuine in my work and let myself be vulnerable in the process, it will translate to the audience and hopefully create a meaningful listening experience.

What do you do for fun that is not music-related?
Yoga and meditation are a big part of my life. I think it all connects, of course; my non-music activities influence my creative life and vice versa.

What do you think composers can do to help today’s audiences understand modern works?
I think it is important to communicate to audiences that there is nothing new required in order “to understand” a piece of music written today. Listening to music is an emotional experience and it is unique to each of us. That means there is no right or wrong way to feel about a piece of music nor is there anything specific “to get” from a piece of music. All that is required of the listener is to be open to listening.

What is your favorite part of hearing your works performed?
This may be surprising to some readers, but my favorite moment after a performance is not the applause but rather that moment of stillness when the music ends and when the applause begins. It is in that space between that I feel the energy and connection with the audience and performers. It is a very powerful moment.

What are you working on now and what are your plans in the near future?
Interestingly enough, I am working on a piece that is entitled “Zwischenraum” (space between) for solo piano.

What is Genius Loci about?
Genius Loci, from the Latin “spirit of place,” refers to the unique atmosphere of a place. Composers, writers and artists throughout history have been inspired by place. Their works are not about the representation of a place but rather the distinctive residue that inspires expression. It is in this sense that Genius Loci – Spirit of Place – is my own exploration of the meaning of “place.” The spirit of place is in itself organic to music.

As a time-based art, it is the essence, the residue, of the opening that emanates throughout a composition as “place,” as a marker, if you will, for the composer and listener alike. When we talk about music, this place is often referred to as home, sense of place. We talk about the home key, for example, and the journey away from that place and an eventual return home. Similarly, Genius Loci-Spirit of Place, emanates from its opening gesture. What follows, grows organically out of the spirit of that place and informs the remainder of the work. Throughout the piece, the properties of “place” are transformed, developed, internalized, and re-examined. The underlying current that flows throughout the entire composition, however, is the spirit of place.

Is there anything else about this piece that you have never revealed before that you are willing to share with us now?
There are two small musical references I make in Genius Loci to compositions I adore and that are inspired by place. One is Robert Schumann’s Third Symphony, 4th movement, which was inspired by the river Rhine and the Cologne cathedral. The second reference is to Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 “New World”, 3rd Movement, a piece that is, of course, inspired by America. Both of these pieces have a deep personal meaning to me as I grew up right by the Rhine and then moved to the “New World.”

How do you feel about the piece?
I was thrilled when I learned that AZ Pro Arte picked Genius Loci for performance. It is hard for composers to get new orchestral works performed on concerts and this is one of those pieces I have written that I feel very strongly about.

Will Arizona audiences get an opportunity to meet you at the concerts?
Yes, I am so grateful that I will be able to be at the concerts and hear AZ Pro Arte perform. I love interacting with audiences and hope to meet many AZ Pro Arte fans in March.

To meet Dr. Stölzel and hear her work performed, we invite you to Arizona Pro Arte’s concert:

Brahms: Tragic Overture
Stölzel: Genius Loci, Spirit of Place
Faure: Requiem

Brett Robison and Lev Ivanov
March 24th, 2013, 3:00PM
La Casa de Cristo Lutheran Church
6300 E. Bell Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85254
For more information, please visit

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