Yaz Lancaster (b. 1996) is a violinist, composer & poet based in Brooklyn, NY. They are interested in the performance of New/contemporary music, collaboration, community building & the representation of minorities in art.
Yaz received a B.M. in violin performance with a minor in poetry from New York University, and will be returning in fall of 2018 to study violin performance & music composition as a M.M. student. Yaz is currently in the studios of Cyrus Beroukhim (violin), Joan La Barbara (composition) & Robert Honstein (composition). In the past, they have studied violin with Shmulik Katz, Jesse Mills, Christiane Pors-Sadoff, Adela Stajnochrova (NYU Prague) & Gregory Fulkerson (chamber coach), poetry with Mark Bibbins, Meghan O’Rourke, Rachel Zucker, Robert Fitterman, Elaine Equi & Terrance Hayes (NYU spring 2018 master class), & composition with Ariel Marx (NYU) & Ted Hearne (NMOP). Notable violin master classes include Laurie Hamilton & Peter Herresthal.
Always interested in expanding their musical capabilities, Yaz performs in a wide variety of settings. As a violinist, they have participated in orchestras (NYU & the non-profit Orchestra Amadeus), multiple chamber ensembles, NYU Baroque Ensemble & dance, NYU Contemporary Music Ensemble, musicals, operas, studio recording sessions (for albums of various genres & filmscoring) & frequently perform/collaborate on new compositions (most notably through the NYU Composers’ Collective). In the summer of 2016, Yaz was invited on fellowship to the Miami Music Festival where they participated in the Orchestral, Opera & Conductors’ Institutes, & studied with Yuriy Bekker & Gary Levinson. Recently, they participated in the 2018 New Music on the Point festival (NMOP) where they performed works/were coached by Ted Hearne & George Lewis as well as works by emerging participant-composers, & had the opportunity to perform with members of JACK Quartet, percussionist Jan Williams & ICE soprano Tony Arnold. Yaz performs as a tenor/lead steel pan player with the NYU steel band under Josh Quillen, and is also a member of indie R&B band SARIAN where they provide violin, synthesizer & back-up vocals. They have an electric bass & enjoy playing Mitski covers alone in their room until they are able to one day form a Mitski cover band. Notable performance/recording venues include: Honolulu Theatre (HI), Pálffy Palác (Prague), Skirball Theatre (NYC), New World Symphony (FL), Mercury Lounge (NYC), House of Yes (NYC), Carriage House Studio (CT), Grand Street Studio (NYC), James L. Dolan Recording Studio (NYC), Clive Davis Institute (NYC), New Women Space (NYC) & Skywalker Sound (CA).
In terms of composition, Yaz is currently interested in patterns (establishing, noticing, expanding & disrupting), timbral & textural colors as guided by synaesthesia, & the idea of music being a room. Their work is inspired by poetry, natural phenomena, identity politics, the quotidian & whoever is on their current playlist. Deeply infatuated with percussion music, Yaz has written a work for solo marimba, chamber works including steel pan/an arrangement of Hiatus Kaiyote’s ‘By Fire’ for steel band & is currently writing a percussion duo for NYC-based Washington Squared. Yaz also enjoys writing for young musicians & is looking forward to the premier of their piece 'echo' at the 2018 NYU Youth Music Festival. Canadian guitarist-composer Andrew Noseworthy will be performing a new work by Yaz for electric guitar, & Yaz will be performing in a trio concert featuring NYC percussionist-composer Nicholas Hall, cellist Lydia Paulos & themselves with works by Yaz, Nicholas & Robert Honstein in the winter of 2018-2019.
As a poet, Yaz has been published both in print & online in sources like Potluck Magazine, the Minetta Review & Dion Ys Us, as well as in three self-published chapbooks: Big and Small and Black (2016), Sunshowers (2017) & small forms (2017). Of Yaz's work, National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes writes '[their] poetry displays a terrific mix of invention. Impressive metaphor and imagery appear amid formal experimentation... the poems balance a meditative solitude with speculative musing about human interaction and intimacy.' Yaz acted as the director of the 2017 & 2018 NYU Words & Sounds concerts, in which new musical works inspired by/incorporating poetry & other written text were premiered. This type of collaboration is very meaningful to them, as they frequently write poems to be set by composers. They are currently writing for an upcoming project for violin + electronics with Zachary Seely.