6. Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti – koʻu inoa (2017)
Leilehua is a Kanaka Manoli (Native Hawaiian) musician, most known for her work as a violist, composer, and educator. She also works with sound sculpture in super cool ways. She’s played on albums for Björk, Joan Osborne, Dai Fujikura, David Lang, many others, and has new commissions writing for ensembles such as the Argus Quartet and Roomful of Teeth. She currently lectures in both composition & viola at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. One of my favourite things that she’s made recently is Yesterday is Two Days Ago, an album with the instrument builder Adam Morford. Leilehua refers to ko’u inoa as “a homesick bariolage based on the anthem Hawai‘i Aloha.”
“Ko’u inoa” means “my name.”
The second line of Hawaiʻi Aloha, “kuʻu home,” is “my home.”
The whole line is “kuʻu home kulāiwi nei,” —“my own homeland.”
The first performance of ko’u inoa was at the TANK, a former water treatment structure in rural Colorado with exquisite resonance. The premiere happened to be on my birthday. I wasn’t there, I can only wish. Later, the violin version of ko’u inoa was premiered by Yaz Lancaster.
Home to no one place, I am a salad. My name is India Yeshe Gailey (IN-dee-ah YEH-shay GAY-lee). It feels both inconceivable and very ordinary to be carrying a subcontinent’s title, plus a name held by many notable Tibetan figures. Yeshe translates to something like “wisdom.” A lot to live up to, maybe. A few weeks before I was born, my parents moved from America to Nova Scotia on the recommendation of a Tibetan lama named Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. I felt a bit alien growing up, and still feel that way a bit, but that’s fine. It helps me see other people sometimes. I have wrestled with the notion of home, agonizing about where to put my body and my stuff, and generally wondering how to do the right thing ever.
A few times, I thought I’d found a lasting home somewhere, but then found myself racing back to Nova Scotia. One such moment, I thought I was going to live in Montréal for a very long time in the home I’d settled in with a very good friend. Just a friend, but also more than an ordinary friend. He was a very brilliant artist, mostly a musician. I loved him. We’d lived together for three years, and it seemed as though we’d do well to keep living together for a good long while. But things fell apart suddenly and unexpectedly and it was rather heartbreaking.
I tried very hard to find another place, but that quickly became difficult as all concerts were cancelled and the quiet doom of coronavirus descended. I bought ten bars of dark chocolate, in case it was the end of chocolate, and packed up my things faster than I thought possible, sobbing and listening to anguished Rachmaninoff sonatas. Accompanied by a lovely violinist, I made the 13 hour drive through empty highways to Halifax in one day, arriving right before the provincial borders closed in late March 2020.
I rattled around after that, inside and outside. Home as a place makes sense, there is an intimacy to inhabiting a particular space, getting to know its subtleties and merging with its rhythms. There’s a material aspect of home. It can be a source of comfort or claustrophobia. But the home I was sick for does and doesn’t exist. It’s something beyond place, a state of being, which is also homeless. A letting go. So that’s what I am trying to do, dancing with ephemeral overtones. Searching, and not searching, for the place in perpetual midair.