In this studio visit, Gabrielle Herbst discusses some of her influences and how the Roulette residency assisted her in developing “Ashes.”
Written for two voices and two loop pedals, electronics, harp, violin, cello, flute, piano and clarinet, the opera explores themes of personal and collective vulnerability. Progressing through sensory, dreamlike, non-narrative tableaux with close harmonization, textural rhythms, melismatic vocals, and electronics, the opera takes an immersive look at an inner world struggling to connect outwards.
Gabrielle Herbst (b. 1986) is a composer and vocalist residing in Brooklyn. She has premiered her compositions at Roulette, The Stone, Cabinet Magazine’s Exhibition Space, Issue Project Room and HERE Arts Center. Recipient of the 2011 Artist Residency at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center in partnership with New York Theater Workshop, Herbst received commissions from Roulette and the Jerome Foundation, Sugar Vendil and the Nouveau Classical Project, Duo Noir and Experiments in Opera at Issue Project Room. She is a 2012 Con Edison Composer-in-Residence through Exploring the Metropolis, Inc. as well as a 2013 Composer-in-Residence at Atlantic Center for the Arts. As a featured vocalist she has performed with Valgeir Sigursson, Zeena Parkins, Missy Mazzoli, Elliott Sharp, Da Capo Chamber Players, Contemporaneous, Allie Avital Tsypin at The Kitchen, and Marina Rosenfeld’s Teenage Lontano in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. She has studied composition with Joan Tower, Martin Bresnick, Marina Rosenfeld and Zeena Parkins, voice with Ilka LoMonaco, and clarinet with David Krakauer. Gabrielle Herbst’s formal training began at an early age, studying Balinese dance and gamelan in Indonesia while learning both the clarinet and piano. She continued her training at Bard College where she studied voice and composition. Her work has been showcased at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, as well as Roulette, who in 2014 commissioned and premiered her first opera, Bodiless. Herbst’s experience writing for chamber orchestra and mixed instrumentation inspired her to develop a repertoire of short-form, vocal-centric compositions under the name GABI. These were driven by solitary explorations in early 2013 with a dual-track loop pedal. The nine songs composed for her debut album, Sympathy (Software Recording Co), embrace the vast potential of the human voice as instrument, story, and landscape. In 2015 she toured Sympathy in Europe and North America including David Byrne’s Meltdown Festival in London and the Pop Kultur Festival in Berlin, the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, The Rest is Noise at the Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, The Great Escape, Brighton, UK, Start the Bus, Bristol, UK, Marfa Myths Festival, Marfa, TX, Official showcase at SXSW, Austin, TX, The Wick presented by Pitchfork and the Tinnitus Music Festival, Club Los Globos, Los Angeles, DNA Lounge, San Fransicsco, CA, and Le Poisson Rouge, NYC, to name a few. Recent touring has included Casa Del Popolo presented by Pop Montreal, Quebec, the Slingshot Festival in Athens, GA, the New Media Art and Sound Summit in Austin, TX, and a series at Roulette curated by Meredith Monk. She is a current Artist-in-Residence at Roulette.