IMAGES: To download, click above. Photos 1,2 & 3 by Titilayo Ayangade. Photo 4 by Gabriela-Gironas. Photo 5 by O’Neil Arnold.




Tanner Porter

Tanner Porter is a composer-performer and songwriter whose music explores her whole-hearted passion for storytelling. Whether it be in her orchestral works, her music for ballet and opera, or her songwriting, Tanner wants to tell stories, and often frames her work within the imagery of the California coast she grew up on. Tanner was raised in a family full of theatre-makers, teachers, artists, lifeguards, and surfers—equally as likely to put on Joni Mitchell or Stravinsky first thing in the morning. Her love of storytelling blossomed from this imparted reverence for theatre, orchestration and song.

In One Was Gleaming, Tanner brings together her love of songwriting and arrangement in nine tracks that explore the relationship between self-doubt and self-compassion. A record that was written in her mid-to-late twenties (and some in the early part of the Pandemic), Tanner has joked that this is “a bit of a Saturn Return record,” full of vibrant colors and vibrant sadness— the bright, restless doubt she felt at that time in her life.

Production for this record began in NYC in January 2020, and quickly ground to a halt. Over the next couple of years, Tanner found ways to continue the project virtually. The many performers on these tracks (which feature— among others— trumpets and French horns, flutes and bassoons, string quartets, DIY chamber orchestras, and simultaneous piano and prepared piano) recorded remotely from living rooms, offices and make-shift home studios. Tanner threaded together sessions from these disparate parts, and passed them onto mixer and co-producer Christopher Botta, who quilted each track into a shimmering whole. Then, back in that same studio in NYC where it all had started, Tanner recorded vocals with Chris. In addition to Tanner’s vocals, at the heart of this record is Sonya Belaya (piano), Teagan Faran (violin), Liz Faure (guitar), Nicole Patrick (drums/percussion), Jess Tsang (percussion), and Tahirah Whittington (cello).

“The songs on One Was Gleaming look at the push and pull of self-judgment and self-compassion; of expectations; of anxiety, and depression,” explains Tanner. “They look at the timelines and dreams I was re-evaluating as the years tumbled forward.”

The title track, “One Was Gleaming,” is a love song to the version of yourself you hope to become. “The Best Sign” was written after a neighbor asked Tanner, why wasn’t she married yet, and wasn’t it getting late for her to have kids? “Working For” is a song about mental health and mothering, cycling through three generations of women considering the weight of raising daughters. “Nothing On Me” speaks to how anxiety and depression can consume a person’s sense of self, but are only one part of them. The record ends with “For Amy, On Her Thirteenth Birthday,” which are the words Tanner wished someone had spoken to her as a young queer person in the world.

“Because I love the tension between interior and exterior feelings in a song (and because I love orchestration), all of this is wrapped in colorful arrangements, played beautifully by the many musicians who brought these notes to life,” she says. “These songs are deeply personal and came from a very specific chapter of my life, and I thank you, wholeheartedly, for listening to them.”

As a composer, Tanner is finishing up a residency with the Louisville Orchestra’s 2023-2024 Creators Corps, and has been commissioned by and written for the Albany Symphony Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony and Nu Deco Ensemble, among others. She has written for opera (Boughs, commissioned by Barnard College and Columbia University’s New Opera Workshop), and ballet (Slipstream, for the Boston Ballet, and Kin, commissioned by the San Francisco Ballet, both in collaboration with choreographer Claudia Schreier). She has degrees in composition from the University of Michigan (BM) and the Yale School of Music (MM). As an arranger, Tanner recently orchestrated Grammy award-winning songwriter Aoife O’Donovan’s All My Friends, featuring the Knights, The San Francisco Girls Chorus, The Westerlies, Anaïs Mitchell, Alan Hampton, and Griffin Goldsmith, among others. As a performer, Tanner has just joined the Broadway cast of ILLINOISE at the St. James Theatre (music by Sufjan Stevens, choreography by Justin Peck, and a book by Jackie Sibblies Drury and Justin Peck), where she is the vocal/guitar understudy for Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond) and Tasha Viets-Vanlear.