Yaz Lancaster is a performer-composer & poet based in Brooklyn, NY. They are primarily interested in the performance of new/contemporary & underperformed works, collaboration & the representation of minorities in art.
Always looking to expand their musical capabilities, Yaz performs in a wide variety of settings. As a violinist, they have performed in orchestras, chamber ensembles, NYU Baroque Ensemble, contemporary ensembles, musical & opera pits, & studio sessions for various genres of artists. In the summer of 2016, Yaz was a fellow at the Miami Music Festival, where they participated in the Orchestral, Opera & Conductors’ Institutes. In 2018, Yaz participated in the New Music on the Point festival as a violinist where they performed works/were coached by Ted Hearne & George Lewis, as well as works by emerging composer participants, & they had the opportunity to perform with members of JACK Quartet, percussionist Jan Williams & ICE soprano Tony Arnold. Yaz is a co-founder of Brooklyn-based Crosswinds String Quartet with other non-binary & women string players which aims to perform works by marginalized composers, or that is written in a way that is considered “non-traditional” for classical music. Yaz also performs on tenor steel pan with the NYU steel band under Josh Quillen, & is a member of the indie R&B band SARIAN where they provide violin, synthesizer & back-up vocals. Notable performance & recording venues include: Honolulu Theatre (HI), Palffy Palac (Prague, CZ), Skirball Theater (NYC), New World Symphony (FL), House of Yes (NYC), Skywalker Sound (CA), Carriage House Studio (CT) & Grand Street Studio (NYC).
As a composer, their work has been performed in various venues in the US & Canada--most recently their saxophone solo Among Verticals was premiered by Keaton Garrett in Michigan & their lyric poem for electric guitar “of all the [stars] the most beautiful” was performed by Andrew Noseworthy in London, Ontario. Yaz is currently working on projects with Washington Squared percussion duo, guitarist Ciyadh Wells & Quince Ensemble, among others.
Yaz has been published in both print & online sources like Potluck Magazine, 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 their 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 (most notably their collaboration with NYC-based composer Sebastian Zel). They are currently working on an upcoming collaborative project with composer Zachary Seely.
Yaz holds a BM (honors) in violin performance with a minor in poetry from New York University. Their previous mentors include violinists Christiane Pors, Jesse Mills, Adela Stajnochrova, Shmulik Katz & Gregory Fulkerson, poets Terrance Hayes, Elaine Equi, Robert Fitterman, Rachel Zucker, Meghan O’Rourke & Mark Bibbins, & composer Ariel Marx. Yaz is currently a MM student in the violin performance program at NYU, studying with Cyrus Beroukhim (violin), Joan La Barbara (composition) & Robert Honstein (composition).