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Seven Composers for Workshop
The Minnesota Orchestra has selected seven composers from across the country to participate in the fourth annual Minnesota Orchestra Reading Sessions and Composer Institute held at Orchestra Hall, October 27 through 30, 2004. The participants will have their works read and rehearsed by the Minnesota Orchestra and participate in workshops with Orchestra musicians and industry professionals. They will also take part in pre-reading discussions and receive post-reading composition mentoring with composer Aaron Jay Kernis, who serves as the Minnesota Orchestra’s New Music Advisor and Chairman of the Institute. The three reading sessions and pre-reading discussions are free and open to the public. The Composer Institute is presented in partnership with the American Composers Forum and in cooperation with the American Music Center.
“The Minnesota Orchestra Reading Sessions and Composer Institute is a fine example of the forward thinking initiatives that the Orchestra, American Composers Forum and American Music Center have created and supported,” remarked Aaron Jay Kernis. “Not only will the invited composers gain direct experience of their orchestral writing brought to full ‘living color’ through the Orchestra’s artistry, they will also gain insights into improving and sharpening their already professional skills through a variety of seminars with leaders in the music community. These skills are vitally important to emerging composers, and previous year’s seminars have proven both insightful and invaluable to many participants. There really is nothing quite like this Composer Institute in the nation.
The seven composers selected range in age from 20 to 36. They are: Patrick Burke from Yale University, Fang Man from Cornell University, Andrew Norman from the University of Southern California, John Christian Orfe, formerly at Yale University, David Plylar, formerly from Duke University, Sheridan Seyfried from the Curtis Institute, and Rob Smith from the University of Houston. All participant’s travel and hotel will be provided during the four-day Institute.
A total of 131 scores were submitted to the American Composers Forum for the October 2004 Institute. Works were not to exceed 15 minutes in length and could not have previously been performed or read by a major orchestra. The works were selected with the invaluable assistance of a judging panel including composers Michael Daugherty and Kevin Puts, as well as Minnesota Orchestra Acting Associate Principal Bass William Schrickel. Additional help was received from David Wolff of the American Composers Forum. Minnesota Orchestra Associate Conductor Mischa Santora and Assistant Conductor Daniel Alfred Wachs will lead the Orchestra in readings and rehearsals of the chosen compositions. All pre-reading discussions in the Orchestra Hall Lobby Tier Drop and reading sessions are open to the public with no advance reservation required. For more information, call (612) 371-5660.
In addition to hearing the Minnesota Orchestra play their compositions, the guest composers have the opportunity to attend a wide variety of instrumental and career-building seminars, many of which are not offered at music schools or conservatories. Topics for discussion include arranging commission and publishing contracts, protecting intellectual property, preparing music and parts effectively, honing public speaking skills, initiating community residencies, and working with conductors, librarians, artistic and marketing staffs, as well as union orchestras. These career seminars are led by Minnesota Orchestra musicians and music industry professionals from New York and the Twin Cities. Area composers are able to attend these seminars through the American Composers Forum.
The American Composers Forum supports composers’ artistic development and develops new markets and audiences for their music. Based in Saint Paul, the Forum has grown into one of the largest composer-service organizations in the United States with 1,700 members, nine chapters and a wide variety of innovative programs. For more information, call (651) 228-1407 or visit online at composersforum.org.
September of 1998, Aaron Jay Kernis began an appointment as the Minnesota
Orchestra’s new music advisor. In this artistic post, he composes pieces
for the Orchestra, as well as serves as an advisor in the commissioning
and support of other contemporary music for the Minnesota Orchestra. Born
in Philadelphia in 1960, Kernis began his musical studies on the violin;
at age twelve he began teaching himself piano and, the following year,
composition. He continued studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of
Music and both the Manhattan and Yale Schools of Music. One of the youngest
recipients to be granted the award, Kernis won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize
in Music for his composition String Quartet No. 2, “musica instrumentalis.”
In addition to the Pulitzer, his many awards also include the 2002 Grawemeyer
Award in Music Composition for the cello and orchestra version of Colored
Field. From 1993-96 he held the appointment as composer-in-residence with
The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Public Radio and the American
Composers Forum. Kernis’s music is published by Associated Music Publishers
and Boosey and Hawkes.
An Interview with Tobias Picker
Handmaid Tale's Debuts in English
Rautavaara Joins B&G
Who's Afraid of Julia Wolfe
Derek Bermel's Soul Garden
The Pianist: The Extraordinary
True Story of Wladyslaw Szpilman
John Adams' Atomic Opera
A Bridge Not Far Enough
Turnage Signs With B&H
Sophie's Wrong Choice
On Being Arvo
Rzewski Plays Rzewski
Praising Lee Hyla
David Lang's Passing Measures
Philadelphia Stories / UFO
Composer: Michael Daugherty
Performers: Evelyn Glennie, percussion / Colorado Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop, conductor
of a coup for Naxos’ American Classics series matching world famous percussionist
Evelyn Glennie with Gramophone Artist of the Year Marin Alsop and the Colorado
Symphony Orchestra with one of America's most intriquing composers.
Daugherty has the uncanny ability to be all things to all listeners without
seeming to comprise either seriousness or an enjoyable listening experience.
Composer: Harry Partch
Performer: Johnston, Pippin, et al.
New World Records
These works span the first six years of what American maverick composer Harry Partch (1901–1974) called the "third period" of his creative life. They show him moving away from the obsession with "the intrinsic music of spoken words" that had characterized his earlier output (the vocal works of 1930–33 and 1941–45) and towards an instrumental idiom, predominantly percussive in nature. The Eleven Intrusions are among the most compelling and beautiful of Partch’s works. The individual pieces were composed at various times between August 1949 and December 1950, and only later gathered together as a cycle. Nonetheless they form a unified whole, with a nucleus of eight songs framed by two instrumental preludes and an essentially instrumental postlude.
Busoni the Visionary, Volume II
Jeni Slotchiver, piano
No one plays Busoni's piano music with greater clarity or depth of understanding than Jeni Slotchiver. As she demonstrated in Volume I of this series, this is music she clearly loves and understands both intellectually and intuitively. There is no finer, or more committed, advocate for this greatly underrated composer working today. See Slotchiver's notes on Busoni the Visionary here.
Composer: Dan Locklair
Locklair is an organist by trade and although he has written a wide body
of works--his prolific output includes symphonic works, a ballet, an opera
and numerous solo, chamber, vocal and choral compositions--one may be forgiven
for identifying him first with that glorious instrument. These chamber
works show that Locklair's command of musical language is far broader
and deeper than a single instrument. These fresh and engaging
works are musically challenging and yet a real treat for the ear.
Music in Fifths/Two Pages
Composer: Phillip Glass
Performer: Bang on a Can
These are transcriptions of two early Glass works ("Fifths," originally performed and recorded by Philip Glass with Jon Gibson and Dickie Landry in the original version for saxophones and electric organ) and ("Two Pages", originally done by Philip Glass on electric organ and Michael Riesman on piano).
As always the Bang on a Can All Stars do a... well... bang up job and bring a fresh perspective to two of the seminal works of Glass' early career.
Composer: Herman D. Koppel
Nina Kavtaradze (piano)
Aalborg Symphony Orchestra/Moshe Atzmon
This is the third volume of the symphonies of the Danish composer Herman D Koppel who lived from 1908 to 1998 and wrote seven symphonies between 1930 and 1961. Born in Copenhagen the son of Polish Jewish immigrants, Koppel fled to Sweden during World War II and his Symphony No. 3, written there, is an intensely personal work that mirrors the fears and anxieties of that period. No. 5 is more hopeful and steady but lacks the raw energy of the 3rd.
Guernica, Symphony no 4, Zapata
Composer: Leonardo Balada
Barcelona Symphony and Catalonia National Orchestra/Salvador Mas Conde
Balada’s Guernica, completed in 1966, during the height of the Viet Nam War, was inspired by Picasso’s large-scale mural of 1937, which has come to represent a protest piece against all wars. Balada writes in a personal modern idiom, although there are traces of his apprenticeships with Dello Joio and Aaron Copland. Neither a serialist nor neo-classisist Balada is modern in ways that are highly individual and sometimes hard to follow. But, he's an original and a little patience from the listener is well worth the effort.
Symphonies Nos: 4, 5, 6
Composer: Josef Tal
NDR RadioPhilharmonie/Israel Yinon
Israeli composer Josef Tal, whose work I had never heard from this CD,
is said to have derived his musical style from the second Viennese
school and has remained an unrepentant modernist. He has also been an innovator
and pioneer, one of the first to combine a live instrument with a studio-generated
tape recording; he founded the Israel Center for Electronic Music and imported
the first Moog Synthesizer into his adopted country. These three symphonies
reveal a composer with a strong personal voice working at the height of
his powers. Very powerful.
Baltic Voices 2
Performer(s): Estonian Phil Chamber Choir, Paul Hillier
The second volume of Paul Hillier's exploration of the choral treasures of the Baltic Sea countries features sacred music from composers representing all three branches of Christianity that are practiced in the Baltic region: Orthodox (Schnittke, Grigorjeva), Catholic (Sisask, Tulev), and Protestant (Nørgård). The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir is in superb form and Hillier's choice of material is impeccable.
Music from The Hours
Composer: Philip Glass
Michael Riesman (piano)
Orange Mountain Music
Piano Transcriptions of music composed by Glass for the Virginia Wolfe-inspired film played by longtime collaborator Michael Riesman. Glass writes great music for the piano as demonstrated by his wonderful Etudes for Piano but stripped of orchestration these pieces seem slight and unfinished. Still, for us fanatics, no scrap of Glass is unwelcome.
Symphony No. 3 'Liturgique'
Mouvement Symphonique No. 3
Composer: Arthur Honegger
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/Takuo Yuasa
Five of the best pieces by one of the 20th Century's most underrated composers, played handsomely by the New Zealand Symphony. There may be better versions of all these pieces around but at this price you can't go wrong. Essential listening for anyone who is serious about modern music.
Composer: Frank Bridge
Enter Spring, Summer, Two Poems , The Sea
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/James Judd
Another underrated composer represented by some of his very best work. Young Benjamin Britten once said that upon hearing The Sea he was “knocked sideways”. And, indeed, it is a brilliant piece, filled with the mood of crashing waves and great expanses of open water. Indispensible.
Peter Grimes, Op.33
Composer: Benjamin Britten
London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus/Sir Colin Davis
This is Sir Colin's third recording of Peter Grimes and his experience is clearly reflected in the extraordinary performance by the London Symphony, especially in the famous Interludes that frame Britten's tragic story. This is not the best cast Davis has ever recorded the opera with but the singing is very good, even excellent, in places. (Hard to top Peter Pears and Jon Vickers). But, the orchestra shines in this recording and makes it a must-have for Britten fans.
Canticle of the Sun, Preludes for Cello Solo, In Croce
Composer: Sofia Gubaidulina
Pieter Wispelwey (cello),
Collegium Vocale Gent, Daniel Reuss
Gubaidulina’s Christian mysticism, born of her Russian Orthodox heritage, pervades most of her work but expecially in The Canticle of the Sun, which is based on a text by St. Francis of Assisi. The vocal part is restrained and reverent, with the text often presented in a coloristic and fragmentary manner. Wispelway plumbs the emotional depth of the music as he navigates music that requires not requires a staggering technique but a keen spiritual intensity. Also featured on the disc are Gubaidulina’s solo cello Preludes and In Croce for cello and bajan (Russian chromatic button accordion).
Two American Classics
Ives: Concord Sonata
Barber: Piano Sonata
Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
The two best piano sonatas ever written by Americans played by the best piano player alive. Period. This is Hamelin's second recording of the Ives Concord Sonata, a piece he has played for over 20 years in performances that have often been regarded as definitive. Now, we have a new definitive recording.
Composer: Lukas Ligeti
With a name like Ligeti you'd better be good and Lukas, son of György, demonstrates that he is more than just a chip off the old block in this clever blending of traditional music from places as diverse as Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Florida, Egypt, and the Ivory Coast with the latest techniques in computer and electronic work from Stanford University's computer music lab. Haunting, original and compelling musical ideas that point toward a bright future for contemporary music.
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