November 6, 2018 Artist to Watch: Monica Pearce
Music maker, merry maker, money maker
This week we’re looking inward to our very own staff to introduce a new composer in town. Meet Monica Pearce, a native of Canada (Director of Grants Management & Special Projects) who has recently moved to Baton Rouge and joined the Arts Council team! Monica is excited to get involved in this vibrant artistic community as a composer and member of the Arts Council.
What brought you to Baton Rouge and when did you arrive?
Good things come to those who wait, finally - I have been trying to move down to Baton Rouge since June 2016 from Toronto, Ontario. My husband Tony Marasco moved here in 2016 to start his doctorate at LSU and we were trying every visa angle to get me down here since then. We applied for a Fiancé Visa and after an excruciating wait I finally moved down in May. This long process coincided with a creative project I was doing with Pennsylvanian chamber group Naked Eye Ensemble at the National Clock and Watch Museum, so I wrote a piece "processing times" which is based on the USCIS Processing Times page.
My background is as an art administrator and a composer (in Toronto, I was working as the Executive Director of the Music Gallery, an experimental music venue), and I'm so delighted to be starting as the Director of Grants Management & Special Projects at the Arts Council.
What are your thoughts on the arts /music opportunities in Baton Rouge?
Such a vibrant arts community here! I am so excited to get to know more about it. I'm still getting to know the classical music side of things, which is my main background, but I've been especially interested in the visual arts community here. I've been to a number of events at the Baton Rouge Gallery, including an awesome event that paired Faust with a live soundtrack by Ship of Fools. A big change from Toronto is the sheer number of outdoor events in Baton Rouge - very different!!
What are your upcoming projects?
As a composer, I'm working on a few projects at the moment. I'm currently finishing a work for harpsichord for a dear friend of mine, who is a real virtuoso of contemporary harpsichord. It's called toile de jouy and is the final piece in a multi-work piece entitled Textile Fantasies, which is a series of works for keyboard and percussion that are each inspired by a textile or pattern. The first one I wrote was chain maille, which I wrote for the Sam Houston Percussion Ensemble in Huntsville, TX (under the direction of John Lane), and it feels very good to be nearing the end of this three-year chamber project. Next up, I am working on a piece for flute, sax, cello and piano for the Ultraviolet Ensemble in Calgary, and then a one-act opera about holiday travel set in an airport for Essential Opera. I also do work as a librettist (text for opera), and I am working on a libretto for an opera on Anne Frank with composer Cecilia Livingston entitled Singing Only Softly.
What do you like about the culture of Baton Rouge?
There's a real "laissez les bon temps rouler" undercurrent that flows through here which I really love. The people are so friendly, and there's a nice combination of people who've lived here their whole lives, students who are here for a limited time, and people who sort of randomly ended up here and stayed. My favourite part (though sometimes my least favourite part) is the weather - I love to get outside and run or bike, and I've never lived in a place where you could really do that all year long. One of my favourite things to do is run around the lakes and see all the birds and turtles - delightful!
You can check out some of my recent works on my website monicapearce.com