Performing on Organ
© Photo by: Sarah Midkiff
Toy Organ Headshot
© Photo by: Shervin Lainez
Performing with Projection
© Photo by: Maya Smira
Composer and performer Molly Joyce was recently deemed one of the “most versatile, prolific and intriguing composers working under the vast new-music dome” by The Washington Post. Her music has additionally been described as “serene power” (New York Times), written to “superb effect” (The Wire), and “unwavering…enveloping” (Vulture). Her work is concerned with disability as a creative source. She has an impaired left hand from a previous car accident, and the primary vehicle in her pursuit is her electric vintage toy organ, an instrument she bought on eBay which engages her disability on a compositional and performative level.
Molly’s creative projects have been presented at TEDxMidAtlantic, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Bang on a Can Marathon, Danspace Project, Americans for the Arts, National Sawdust, Gaudeamus Muziekweek, National Gallery of Art, Classical:NEXT, and featured in outlets such as Pitchfork, Red Bull Radio, WNYC’s New Sounds, and I Care If You Listen. Her compositions have been commissioned and performed by ensembles including the Vermont, New World, New York Youth, Pittsburgh, Albany, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestras, as well as the New Juilliard, Decoda, and Contemporaneous ensembles. As a collaborator, Molly has worked across disciplines including collaborations with visual artists Lex Brown, Leo Castaneda, Alteronce Gumby, Maya Smira, Julianne Swartz, choreographers Melissa Barak, Kelsey Connolly, Carlye Eckert, Jerron Herman, director Austin Regan,and writers Marco Grosse, James Kennedy, Christopher Oscar Peña, and Jacqueline Suskin.
Molly is a recipient of ASCAP’s Leo Kaplan Award, as part of the Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, grants from New Music USA, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Jerome Fund / American Composers Forum, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and residencies at AIR Krems an Der Donau, ArtCenter/ South Florida, De Link Tilburg, Embassy of Foreign Artists, Grace Farms, Headlands Center for the Arts, Villa Sträuli, Titanik, Swatch Art Peace Hotel, The Watermill Center, and Willapa Bay AiR.
Molly is a graduate of The Juilliard School, Royal Conservatory in The Hague, Yale School of Music, and alumnus of the National YoungArts Foundation. She currently serves on the composition faculty at New York University and Wagner College.
Breaking and Entering
Description: Breaking and Entering is a collaborative work between disabled artists Jerron Herman and Molly Joyce, exploring congenital and acquired physical immobility through their parallel weak left sides. The pair’s diametric experiences clash, cohere, and eventually congeal to reveal a dynamic picture of intersection.
People on road: 3
Workshops with ongoing project titled "Perspective," featuring disabled interviewees responding to what access, care, and more mean to them. Workshops with disabled and nondiasabled participants ages 18 or older responding to project questions and experimenting with accessiblity facets of the work such as open captions.
Post-performance discussions around disability as a creative source, utilizing performance material interrogating acquiring a disability and the artistic possibilities that emerge from such experience.
“Composer and amazing singer Molly Joyce did a number by herself to introduce her collaboration with the Grammy-winning composer Christopher Theofanidis in their piece ‘Form and Flee.’ She worked with a toy electric organ and sang ‘I Was a Figure’ with lyrics by Marco Grosse and herself. Her soprano has great range and she uses it without vibrato, more like an instrument to touch a pitch. The effect was ethereal, eerie, magical. Then, what Theofanidis did against that floating sound was to create a hip, subtle, rhythmic orchestra space that never intruded but always supported with repeated motifs, lots of color and with great style. The result was very seductive. The crowd loved it and gave a standing ovation.”
Geraldine Freedman, The Daily Gazette, June 2021 — read full article
“Molly Joyce is among of the most versatile, prolific and intriguing composers working under the vast new-music dome…If there’s such a thing as a spirit of entrance, Joyce’s music is suffused with it: It offers everyone a way in. And for young artists with disabilities seeking to define virtuosity on their own terms, it offers a path forward.”
Michael Andor Brodeur, The Washington Post, December 2020 — read full article
“During Monday’s 20-minute set, the addition of Ms. Joyce’s vocals made me eager to hear a full song cycle of similar material. Another hint of this performance style’s serene power can be heard on an excerpt, posted on Soundcloud, from her collaboration with the percussionist Jop Schellekens.”
Seth Colter Walls, New York Times, June 2018 — read full article
“These two artists treat disability as creative opportunity. In ‘Breaking and Entering,’ they explore their struggles and their transformations together—Joyce with ethereal vocals and an electric toy organ, Herman with his body in motion.”
Brian Seibert, The New Yorker
“Joyce’s ethereal vocals, vintage toy organ, and electronic soundscapes created an exquisite expansiveness.”
Alyssa Kayser-Hirsh, I Care If You Listen
Created in collaboration with Olga Stucker, Left and Right seeks the intersection of language, performance, and video to embody and explore physical immobility.
Created in collaboration with Maya Smira, The End illuminates loss of physicality through video, music, and lyrical language. The music is inspired by German singer-songwriter Nico's cover of the classic song from The Doors, and expands to a multi-layered voice and vintage toy organ recording. The work reckons with loss of physical sensation and movement, intersecting with multiple camera angles to focus on physical difference and disability.