Curatorial Playlist: LeeAnn Rossi

By LeeAnn Rossi

Friday, October 13, 2023

Welcome to Season 9 at National Sawdust! I am grateful to be working with the National Sawdust Programming team to bring you a slate of exciting and expansive programs and to look ahead with them to our momentous 10th season. 

For me, music is a landscape and language unto itself. I trace many memories back to specific songs. I alter my mood with a particular soundtrack. When I’m out in nature the sounds of the dry grass, wind, water, birds, and gushy mud soothe me. New York’s natural soundscape is equal parts comforting and jarring—sometimes the sirens soothe and sometimes they scare. I grew up a Southern Baptist church choir gal and took piano lessons until I was 13. I’m not someone walking around the city with headphones, but I do spend evenings in front of my record player.

I don’t have a particularly special or profound sense of sound, but I possess an openness and curiosity that deepened and refined during my tenure with musician and artist David Byrne. His example of ultimate anti-elitism and genuine, deep interest in art-making was formative and I gratefully take that into the work I am doing now with National Sawdust. 

When I listen to music, I am often overwhelmed! I recognize influences from other works and contexts such as biographical information about the artist or the era in which they created the piece. I’m curious about what I don’t understand technically, about the production resources to facilitate great writing and recording. I notice when a groove or choice of instrumentation takes me by surprise or down a different emotional path than I expected. Not to mention, the things going on in my own life that I bring to each listening session—what one might first construe as a celebratory phrase can easily transform into a note of warning, depending on what’s going on inside my body and mind. 

This season we bring our audiences transformative listening experiences rooted in language and poetry (Elsa Nilsson), movement (Catie & The Robot + Tiffany Mills and Ensemble Ipse), geographical/familial heritage (Jihye Lee + Kavita Shah) and discovery (Rasa Project + Astghik Martirosyan). We’re also welcoming back several artists to National Sawdust, including Magos Herrera, Matt McBane/Ashley Bathgate, and JJJJJerome Ellis

I’m looking forward to these performances and I hope you enjoy this playlist: an entry point into what I was listening to over the first half of the year when the season was being put together.

About LeeAnn Rossi

Senior Curator and Creative Producer

LeeAnn Rossi is a creative producer focused on supporting and nurturing artists through processes of collaboration and development. LeeAnn has produced works that have been seen on and off-Broadway (American Utopia, Contemporary Color), at theaters and performing arts centers around the country (BAM, Mass MoCA, Seattle Rep, Denver Center for Performing Arts), film festivals (Tribeca, Hot Docs) and internationally (National Theatre, Luminato Festival, Aarhus Festuge, Roskilde). Artistic projects she has developed and produced have received assorted Grammy, Emmy, Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Drama League, Lucille Lortel, New York Drama Critics and Outer Critics Circle Nominations and Awards. She has also received Communication Arts awards for her work on various albums, books and tours.