4. Yaz Lancaster – diepenveen (2020)
how does one describe accurately the sensation of a light
breeze and shadows moving to you through
a willow tree and to whom
some things change and no one notices
a car light fades and no one notices
the world could be turning a hair
slower than usual and it would do
—“diepenveen” from small forms (2017), Yaz Lancaster
Yaz is one of the most prolifically multitalented and Aquarian people I know. An accomplished composer, violinist, poet, steel pan player, writer, and dedicated organizer, they identify as a Black transdisciplinary artist most interested in practices aligned with relational aesthetics & the everyday; fragments & collage; and liberatory politics. Their work has appeared in Atlas and Alice, The Poetry Project’s HOUSEPARTY, the tiny, Underblong (where they received the 2021 Blongprize and a Pushcart Nomination), and elsewhere. They have degrees in violin and poetry from NYU, write for I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, and are the visual arts editor at Peach Mag. They love chess, horror movies, and jalapeños. They are based in New York City.
Yaz and I met a few years ago at a concert in London, Ontario, when I performed in the Canadian premiere of their string quartet piece “like stars or cranes.” This was during a particularly chaotic period for me. I was in the final year of my master’s degree, travelling every other weekend for rehearsals and performances, balancing a rush of professional and academic commitments, weathering a series of personal losses and dramas, leaning too heavily on cocoa and fried potatoes. My musical metabolism was amphetaminic, a completely different pace from the spacious manner I favour.
I was struck by Yaz’s presence, loving the sounds, words, and other things that they chose to share with the world. They articulate particular feelings more beautifully than I ever could. So I was stoked when they agreed to write a piece for me.
Diepenveen is the name of a village in the Netherlands. Coincidentally, Yaz named this spacious sparkle piece within weeks of a very dear friend and fellow cellist (Leah Plave) moving to La Hague, just a short drive away from Diepenveen. In 1873, a rare meteorite fell on the town, a carbonaceous chondrite. This kind of meteorite contains the basic ingredients of our solar system. A very long time ago, they may have been the rocks that brought hydrogen, nitrogen, and other life seeds to Earth.