Music as the Act of Breathing: SoNA and David Leisner's "Pranayama"

Apr 19, 2017

Cellist Zuill Bailey and classical guitarist David Leisner

The words orchestra and overture conjure sounds and images of grandeur and bombast, but what if the accumulated skill of an orchestra could be used for just the opposite: intimacy and contemplation?

David Leisner has tackled this question through his composition "Pranayama," a new work that will see its world premiere performance from the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas at its Masterworks III concert Saturday, April 29. Leisner will also be featured as a guest performer at the concert when he plays  Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez with the symphony.

Leisner's arrangement owes its title to the Hindu practice of meditation through breathing, which itself is an integral part of the composition. The performers themselves determine the rhythm of the overture through the pace of their own breath.

"The longer you sit there, the more you notice it's happening- the more sounds are going on, the more visuals are happening- where at first you thought that nothing was happening."