Having a conversation with Martin Bresnick and Lisa Moore is like a roller coaster ride. It’s fast-paced, full of sudden curves, and always keeps you on the edge of your seat. When I visited them in their Manhattan apartment a few months ago for one of NewMusicBox’s typically hour-long chats, I wound up staying there for several hours and I barely managed to get a word in edgewise. But I was nevertheless thoroughly engaged the whole time.
That engagement came from witnessing first-hand the creative fuel that they both derive from their relationship with each other—Martin freely admits that his compositions have changed as a result of Lisa being in his life, and Lisa’s current approach to playing the piano is also very much informed by Martin’s sensibilities. Ironically, both were fully formed and shared a common aesthetic before they came together, which makes quantifying their symbiotic artistic evolution somewhat difficult.
In both cases, their open-mindedness was a by-product of both transformative life experiences and powerful yet nurturing mentors who helped them shape their individual artistic identities. In the case of Martin, growing up in housing that was part of a socialist experiment in the Bronx and eventually heading to California to study with György Ligeti forged in him a compositional openness that could equally embrace both academia and maverick experimentation. For Lisa, involvement in theatre as well as music in her native Australia and subsequent exposure to the interaction of Gilbert Kalish and Jan De Gaetani at Eastman led her to an equally open aesthetic as a performer, an aesthetic that enabled her to simultaneously be the pianist for the Da Capo Chamber Players and the Bang on a Can All-Stars and which continues to inform the interpretative decisions of her subsequent solo career. These formative foundations ultimately set the stage for their willingness to be influenced by each other.