Blank-page agony is a constant, says composer John Corigliano

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John Corigliano
  • John Corigliano

Does the artistic process ever get easier? Not according to composer John Corigliano, in town this week for a festival honoring his 75th birthday.

"I'm always intimidated at the beginning of a work," Corigliano said Tuesday during a Q&A session that followed Fulcrum Point’s screening of his first film (he's done only three), Ken Russell’s trippy 1980 science fiction classic Altered States, at the Harris Theater. The score was performed live by a 100-member orchestra, conducted by Fulcrum Point artistic director Stephen Burns.

Corigliano, who "did nothing but eat, sleep, and write" while producing the Altered States music on a breakneck schedule, said creative agony is a constant—then and now: "The ideas and technique come only after I've had time to punish myself."

He'll be on hand again tonight, when Ursula Oppens and Winston Choi present a program of his major piano works at PianoForte, Curtiss Hall, 410 S. Michigan. It starts at 7:30; tickets are $20; $10 for students.

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