Music I Am #17 – Ann Moss, soprano

The moment when you knew you wanted to be a musician:

I don’t know if it was a moment so much as an environment — namely the environment I was raised in. My household was musical in every way, and studying an instrument was simply expected of us. Not in a pressure-filled way, more that it was just something we all did. I started piano around the time I was learning to read, so being musical developed for me right alongside other ways of being. I had lots of interests growing up, including languages and literature and art history, which, looking back, I can see were all interwoven and contributed to my becoming a singer. I suppose the moment I knew I was going to devote my energy to being a musician happened later, at Hampshire College, when my advisor called to my attention the fact that I seemed to spend the majority of my time in the music building. (At that point I was pursuing a course of study that would have led to teaching secondary school English and Literature.) My advisor essentially helped me see myself from the outside, and gave me permission to commit outwardly to a path that I was, clearly, already committed to inwardly. I switched my concentration and advisor over to music and the rest, as they say…

An important skill for a career in music that does not have anything to do with an instrument or making music:

I cannot stress enough the importance of good writing skills. Very often, our written communications – whether with colleagues, mentors, teachers, institutions of learning, presenting organizations, or fans – precede our in-person interactions and set the tone for how other people perceive and relate to us.

Two ways you stay motivated:

Physical activity (yoga, hiking, weight lifting) keeps me sane and energized, and cooking keeps me inspired and grounded. Creating nourishing meals is how I unwind and find my center when the twists and turns of my career threaten to uproot me.

Latest Project:

Lifeline – an album of modern-day interpretations of chants by 12th century composer Hildegard von Bingen, distilled through the lens of the artist’s experiences in quarantine and crafted remotely through innovative collaborative processes.

What inspired it:

I entered the initial lock-down phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic with a bizarre case of laryngitis that lasted about 7 weeks, accompanied by lingering respiratory challenges that prevented me from walking more than a few blocks at at time. (I most likely had COVID but was unable to get tested at the time.) When I returned to singing, Hildegard was the music I was drawn to. Singing chant in isolation made a lot of sense, but I found myself craving the collaborative process. So I reached out to instrumental colleagues who had the capacity to record themselves at home, and we co-created intricately-layered “drone” environments to serve as backdrops for, or in some cases conversations with, Hildegard’s vocal compositions.

Who’s on it:

  • Matt Berkeley – Fender Rhodes Piano, Synthesizers
  • Sidney Chen – Shruti box
  • Eric Fraser – Bansuri flute
  • Trace Johnson – Cello
  • BZ Lewis – Guitars, Synthesizers
  • Jessie Nucho – Flutes
  • Colm Ó Riain – Violin
  • Justin Ouellet – Violin, Viola
  • Carrie Smith – Guitar
  • Recorded, edited and mixed by Alberto Hernandez
  • Mastering, additional mixing and engineering by BZ Lewis
  • Additional engineering by Jeff Kolhede
  • Remote engineering by Matt Berkeley, Sidney Chen, Eric Fraser, Jeremy Garcia, Trace Johnson, Jessie Nucho and Justin Ouellet
  • Recorded in Berkeley, Sacramento, Oakland and San Francisco, CA; Houston, TX; Madison, WI; Claverack, NY
  • Graphic design by Edgar Alanis
  • Album cover photo credit: Tony Nguyen
  • Chants transcribed by Beverly R. Lomer and edited by Barbara Newman
  • Translations by Nathaniel M. Campbell and Ann Moss
  • Produced by Ann Moss and Justin Ouellet

How do you discover new music?

My students, friends, and family turn me on to new music all the time. Also, lately, I’ve been letting YouTube music generate playlists for me which has weirdly reconnected me to a lot of music I used to listen to but had forgotten about.

One living and one dead musician that deserves more attention:

LIVING: Kev Choice is a Pianist/M.C./Producer/Composer/Educator/Activist based in Oakland who has been innovating, collaborating, and inspiring the Bay Area (ever so slightly under the radar) for decades. I believe he deserves national attention. Check out his music!

DEAD: I am a huge fan of Heinrich Isaac and I rarely get the chance to sing his stuff. Think Josquin but with more meat on the bone.

Where can we find you online?



Upcoming Event you’d like to share? 

I’m singing Gérard Grisey’s gorgeous final opus – Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil – with After Everything in San Francisco on Saturday, May 6th.
Details here:

Ann Moss and Steve Bailey at Skywalker Studio

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