What is the name of your group?
List your band members and the instruments that they play.
Katie Weissman, cello
Liz Holland, percussion
How did the name of the band come about? When did it form?
Liz: We didn’t really want to come up some acronym that said something about us or the music we perform. So going with our last names was both a logical and easy way out of coming up with something to try to describe us.
Where are you from originally?
Liz: We are both from the Buffalo are originally.
What’s it like to perform in front of a crowd? Give me three words.
Liz: Alive, Exciting, Exhausting
When and why did you start playing?
Liz: When I was very young, I think 6, my uncle owned a house with this gorgeous piano in it. I used to go up to it and really annoy everyone by playing the theme to jaws (all two minor 2nd notes of it) until finally my mother asked me if I wanted piano lessons. (In retrospect, it was probably more of a pleading than an asking) Once it came time to be in the school band, there was no piano ensemble. Band directors always stick the girl who plays the piano on xylophone in the percussion section.
Katie: I saw yo yo ma in Sesame St when I was 18 months old and asked my mother to teach me how to play the cello.
What was the first tune that you remember “really” playing well, when you knew that you would be a musician?
Liz: I don’t think I ever “knew” I would be a musician, it was just something I loved doing and still do. In high school, I used to put on Queen’s Night at the Opera and play the entire cd beginning to end. My family loved me.
Describe your voice/instrument.
Liz: the instruments I play in this ensemble vary greatly. It is contemporary percussion, so I could be playing flower pots, bowing a gong with a bass bow or rubbing a superball on a bass drum. Also, I perform on more traditional instruments like vibraphone, frame drums, cymbals, tom toms, etc. It’s enough to fill both of our cars, and then some.
Liz: Our musical style is quite contemporary. Some of it is very melodic, but some of it is pretty complicated mathematical solutions to musical “problems”. As each composer has their own style, our musical style is difficult to pinpoint. Influence-wise, there are a lot of percussionists that I admire. Michael Burritt, Casey Cangelosi, Steve Schick, David Kuckhermann… and many many more talented contemporary percussionists. Luckily they are also fairly accessible – I’ve studied privately with Michael Burritt, Casey Cangelosi has composed for us, I’ve attended workshops with Steve Schick and took a private lesson with David Kuckhermann in his Berlin apartment the last time I was in Germany.
Did music come naturally to you? Or were you driven to learn and play/sing? What sparked the passion? Do you come from a musical family?
Liz: No one in my family is musical, but definitely having access to that piano as a child spurred my interest. Also, I began to compose little songs when I was 15 so it was a nice creative outlet. Playing percussion is really fun – who hasn’t walked past a drum and wanted to tap on it? The world of percussion is also so diverse and spans across so many different genres. I’m currently heavily interested in middle eastern and indian percussion, and even though I’ve been performing percussion for over 20 years, those two areas are something I’ve only gotten into very recently. So it’s like learning a whole new instrument, and keeps things interesting. I’m really interested in how music relates to cultures and spiritual practices.
Are you schooled in music? From where?
Liz: I have a Masters in Music Performance from the Univ at Buffalo
Katie: Bachelors of music in cello performance from Boston university
Which famous musician(s) do you admire?
Liz: I really love the music of Dead Can Dance and Lisa Gerrard, who I was luckily able to meet finally last year.
Where is your favorite place to play/sing in Buffalo? Where would you most like to play/sing in Buffalo?
Liz: Pausa Art House is a great new venue for intimate shows. No matter how large or small the audience there, the atmosphere always just works for whatever type of show is happening. I do miss Mohawk Place (mostly the old Mohawk) and The Vault, both of which recently closed. I tend to favor more DIY or gallery spaces than a loud bar, both for this and other projects I perform in. If someone has come to a DIY space or gallery to hear you perform, they are there to hear you perform and take in the music, which isn’t always the case at louder bar type venues.
What’s your day job?
Liz: I develop websites for a large company.
Katie: Full time musician
What was the last live music performance that you caught? What was the best show you ever caught? What was the show that got away – the one that you never got to see?
Liz: The best show I ever saw was NIN at Bowery Ballroom in 2009. Recently, the show that I missed was Yo Yo Ma with great frame drummer Jamey Haddad and the Buffalo Philharmonic, simply because I forgot to buy tickets before they sold out. Historically, if we could raise up Freddie Mercury, that would be great, because he was before my time
and I never saw him perform live.
Katie: Last performance – The Tins, Best performance – Dismemberment Plan
Do you play/sing covers or all originals? Ar a combination of both?
Liz: We perform originals, many of which were commissioned or composed
specifically for us.
Katie: Classical contemporary music isn’t either a cover or an original.
If you could play/sing for one famous person (alive or dead), who would that be?
Liz: I’d love to play for Buddy Rich so he could tell me (yell, really) how much better he is than me so I would go home and cry for a little bit, but then force myself to practice more.
If you could play/sing with one famous band (any time in history), what would that band be?
Liz: Queen. No offense to Roger Taylor, but clearly I am the missing piece for that band. Look me up, Brian May.
What are your strengths?
Liz: lugging lots of equipment to gigs.
What are your weaknesses?
Liz: lugging lots of equipment to gigs.
Do you have a label? A recording studio? Have you recorded a CD?
Liz: I have a private recording studio at my house, but typically I have it mixed elsewhere. My percussionst’s ears have lost quite a few frequencies over the years. We are currently preparing to record a cd full of music composed for us and hope to release it sometime next year. Katie can be heard on many a cd locally and nationally as she records frequently in studio.
Where and when is your next gig(s) in the city?
Pausa Art House on Thursday, October 24th, 8pm, $5 at the door.
The Holland / Weissman Duo (a cello/percussion) duo is premiering 4 new pieces composed by women composers in a self-funded project called “Women in Music”. We’ll be touring these pieces to high schools, colleges and small art spaces over the next year to promote female composers and performers in contemporary new music.
The Holland / Weissman Duo was founded in 2012 to commission and perform contemporary works for cello and percussion. Members Liz Holland (M.M., University at Buffalo) and Katie Weissman (B.M., Boston University) have performed works by Didkovsky and Golijov and premiered works by Cangelosi, Kolm and Bassin.
This performance will include premiers by composers Jennifer Bellor, Haley Shaw, Jenece Gerber, and Darlene Chepil Reid.
Photo credit – The photograph where we are both looking at the camera is credit John Bacon.
See more Sounds of Buffalo:
If you play in a group/band (or solo) here in Buffalo, and have an upcoming gig at a venue(s) in the city, consider sending buffalo rising an email requesting to be emailed a Q&A interview that we can then post, along with concert dates. It’s a fun and easy way to get your name in front of another audience that is interested in learning about the local music scene. The requirements are: