Claire Chase was a junior high flute student the first time she heard “Density 21.5,” Edgard Varèse’s 1936 modernist landmark for solo flute. To say it had an impact on her would be an understatement.
“I had never heard anything like it before,” she said during a recent interview. “I had an out-of-body experience, but it was an in-body experience.
“My teeth were rattling. My hair was on fire. I didn’t know what was happening to me — it was ecstatic and terrifying. And I thought, ‘This is the music I want to make. I don’t know how to do it, but I want to share it with everybody I love.’”