NL: What did you find interesting about the location for your track?
MK: I was inspired by the contrasts in all aspects between the modern and the historical. When I first visited the Undershaft, and stood in the middle of the square adjacent the Gherkin and St. Helen’s Church, I felt a certain type of energy which expands in all directions – the ‘exhale’ and ‘inhale’ of vibrations reflecting from the buildings. This square is connected by narrow streets coming from the bustling atmosphere of Leadenhall Building and Bishopsgate. It almost felt as if these tall buildings were there to shield the buzzing city noise, so that in this little spot, one can find a sense of tranquillity.
At the time, there was also Nancy Rubins’ sculpture Crocodylius Philodendrus installed at Undershaft for Sculpture in the City. This also added to my imagination of energy expanding in all directions.
NL: How did you approach writing the piece?
MK: My approach was a combination of historical research and exploration with layers of colour. As I started researching about the history of Undershaft, I was interested about the fact that St. Helen’s Church had been the church of William Shakespeare, who lived in this area during the 1590s. Thinking about the music of his time, and in connection to the spatial structure of the Undershaft, I immediately thought of Thomas Tallis’ Spem in Alium  – a 40-part motet which Tallis composed for the octagonal hall of Nonsuch Palace in Surrey. Tallis placed the singers around the hall, so that the voices interweave from all directions, with the audience being inside this immersion. I decided to start with writing a motif in the style of a 16th Century motet, and from there, I explored different colours of sound on the violin, and its variations, when layers are added. I didn’t end up with a 40-part violin piece, but I did write for 4 violins!
NL: What were the challenges?
MK: In the beginning, it was challenging to know which direction to take, because there were so many interesting aspects to explore. The main question was: how can I express the heritage of Undershaft, both in its spatial and historical identities? Once I found the base of my exploration, starting from 16th Century motet and St. Helen’s Church, I somehow felt a deeper connection to this place, which enabled me to expand my imagination further.
NL: How did you feel listening back to your track on location?
MK: It was certainly different from hearing it at home or in a studio! With the slight roar of traffic behind the buildings, to my surprise, the listening experience was enhanced by this effect. Once again, the feeling of energy expanding in all directions, and appreciating moments of tranquillity came back to me just as I had experienced it the first time.
NL: You performed the piece live a couple of years ago at the location. How did you feel playing in that space?
MK: It was such a wonderful experience to play at the location. It was in the open air and we weren’t able to use any amplification, which meant that the audience had to come really close in order to hear my performance well! This somehow felt very intimate, even though we were out in this vast open space.