ListN Up: Susie Ibarra (October 23, 2020)

ListN Up is a series of weekly artist-curated playlists. Born from a desire to keep artists sharing and connected during times of isolation, ListN Up offers an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

Susie Ibarra is a Filipinx composer, percussionist, and sound artist. Susie is passionate about working to preserve and support Indigenous music and culture, Musika Katatubo in the Philippines, and advocate for preserving freshwater towers with sound recording on glaciers and water. New works include upcoming album releases Rhythm Cycles, drum solo with OTO Projects UK Nov 2020, and a composer portrait album, Talking Gong, Jan 22, 2021 on New Focus Recordings. Susie is a Yamaha Zildjian and Vic Firth Drum Artist.

Hi, I’m Susie Ibarra. I’m a composer, percussionist, and sound artist. I chose these pieces for my playlist because they’re like spirituals that I listen to that keep me grounded and close to nature.

“Favo de Mel” by Milton Nascimento

I love this song for Milton Nascimento’s beautiful voice, melody, and gentle yet powerful lyric. I pretty much love all of his music, especially coming out of the iconic album Club de Esquina with Lo Borges. This piece is beautiful and sad where he sings about the forest after being logged.

“ubi” by Ryuichi Sakamoto

This is such a beautiful and mesmerizing album. “Ubi” has Ryuichi Sakamoto’s classic sound and compositional aesthetic with his haunting minimal piano and subtle electronics.

“All or Nothing at All” by John Coltrane

John Coltrane’s classic quartet, and of course the opening and closing with Elvin Jones. Like many of the artists on this playlist, I love so much of their music. They perform this piece with a lightness yet effortlessness down to earth sensibility and depth.

“Rattlesnake Mountain” by Pauline Oliveros

Carrying us through with a sustained drone, “Rattlesnake Mountain” grounds us in Pauline Oliveros’ warm and beautiful and meditational sound and depth inside its unfolding dynamics and movements.

Rítmicas by Tania León, performed by Grossman Ensemble (Michael Lewanski, conductor)

I love how Tania León weaves playful music through these five movements of a rhythm spectrum, as she stated, ” a rainbow of polyrhythmic invention” derived from son and guaguancó. It’s beautiful, it dances, and reminds me of sitting in a forest and observing its sounds.

“Grand Unification” by Milford Graves

Some of my most favorite solo playing of Milford Graves is in “Grand Unification.” Each of these drum sounds are so beautiful, and the flow with his vocals feels just right as the music moves through the body.

“Mandorla Island” by Nicole Mitchell

Rich and animated, I find that this piece by Nicole Mitchell brings me to listen both pensively and then sit pleasantly at the end in a rhythmical dance of instruments–beautiful.

Wild Energy by Annea Lockwood and Bob Bielecki

I was very fortunate to visit this installation piece in person. Walking along the woods. A lush listening experience to walk along the trees and bushes and listen to both the installation in the outdoor setting.

Binalig, Kutyapi by Ismail Akmad

So fortunate to have recorded and filmed these sessions of Philippine Maguindanaon gong music in Cotabato City, Mindanao of the Kalanduyan family. This piece by Ismail Akmad is performed on a two string lute, Kutyapi, in which he recorded several variations of Binalig style in Maguindanaon music.

Binalig, Gandingan na Apad by Danongan Kalanduyan and the Kalanduyan Family

Also from the sessions in Cotabato, featuring Danongan, Kanapia, and Datuan Kalanduyan and family. This piece also features kulintang gong music in the style of Binalig featuring the Gangingan, four-panned gongs which are also know as the talking gongs for communication.


UNEVEN MEASURES is a series dedicated to amplifying today’s women, trans, and nonbinary artists on the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment leading up to the 2020 presidential election. This series is made possible through a generous grant from The Elizabeth & Michel Sorel Charitable Organization Inc. to the American Composers Forum and their partnership with I CARE IF YOU LISTEN. The Sorel Organization is committed to supporting gender equity in music and addressing systemic inequities by providing greater visibility for women musicians from underrepresented communities.

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