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  December 6-13, 2004
George Tsontakis Wins
Grawemeyer Award

American composer George Tsontakis has been selected to receive the prestigious 2005 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his Violin Concerto No. 2. 

Described by one music critic as “a work of gentle beauty and intriguing orchestral sounds,” Tsontakis's 20-minute concerto received its world premiere April 19, 2003, by Steven Copes, violin, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Miguel Harth-Bedoya. The concerto was recorded in September as part of a KOCH disc of the composer's works. 

In this somewhat atypical concerto, the violin soloist acts as a sort of first among equals, rather than always as the star, with the accompanying chamber orchestra functioning in many places as a group of soloists itself. The composer states that "the concept of 'orchestral' is diminished in deference to the concept of 'chamber.'" 

Violin Concerto No. 2 was one of more than 160 entries from around the world. Tsontakis is the 19th winner of the Grawemeyer music prize. Previous winners include Gyorgy Ligeti, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Thomas Ades, Tan Dun, John Corigliano and, in 2004, Unsuk Chin. 

Tsontakis has gained acclaim as a prolific and award-winning composer whose works are being performed by many prominent orchestras and musicians. 

In recent years, his works have been performed in at least a dozen European countries and in some of the world's revered venues, including Berlin's Philharmonic Hall and New York's Carnegie Hall. He has been commissioned in recent years by the symphonies of Baltimore, Oregon, Dallas and Albany, the National Symphony, the Oxford Philomusica, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Athens State Orchestra. 

He also has composed works for the American, Blair, Colorado and Emerson string quartets, Da Camera of Houston, the American Brass Quintet, the New York Virtuoso Singers, the Broyhill Chamber ensemble, the Aspen Wind Quintet, Aureole and several American orchestras and ensembles. 

Born in Astoria, N.Y., Tsontakis received a doctoral degree from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Roger Sessions. He has directed the Riverside Orchestra and the Metropolitan Greek Chorale in New York. 

He has been composer-in-residence at the Aspen Music School and Festival since 1976, where he also founded and directed the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble from 1991 to 1998. His music has been recorded on the Hyperion, New World, CRI, KOCH and Opus One labels and published exclusively by Theodore Presser. Three CDs of his piano chamber music were released in November, two on KOCH and one on INNOVA 

Tsontakis has twice been a winner of Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards -- in 1989 for String Quartet No. 4, and in 1992 for the orchestral work “Perpetual Angelus.” 

Pianist Stephen Hough's recording of Tsontakis' “Ghost Variations” was nominated for a Grammy Award for best contemporary classical composition in 1998. The recording also was cited by Time magazine as the only classical recording in its 1998 Top Ten Recordings listing. He is currently composing a piano concerto for Hough to be premiered with the Dallas Symphony in September 2005, when it will be recorded for Hyperion Records. 

His many awards and fellowships include a Fulbright to Italy, where he studied with Franco Donatoni; a Guggenheim Fellowship; the 2002 Alberto Vilar Fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin; and Koussevitsky and Fromm Foundation commissions. 

In 1995, he received the American Academy of Arts and Letters lifetime achievement award, its highest honor for music composition.

Quartets No.3 And No.4
Composer: George Tsontakis
Performers: American Stirng Quartet
New World Records 


December 8-11  8PM 10PM
This special mini festival brings together the best of the Masada Family in a kaleidoscopic premiere reading of 80 new tunes from the second book of Zorn's most popular musical project. $20 each set.  Tonic is located at 107 Norfolk Street between Delancey and Rivington Streets.

December 9-10  7:30PM
dis-regard: Mauricio Kagel / Phillis Ideal
A Sound/Image Event featuring the International Contemporary Ensemble
Rosenberg + Kaufman Fine Art, 115 Wooster Street between Prince and Spring, NYC.  Tickets are $15 General/$10 Student and Senior,  available at the door or in advance.   Call 212.431.4838 for more information.

December 10  7PM
Joel Fan, Solo Piano
Pianist Joel Fan who performs with the cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, will give a solo recital of his favorite works.  FAUST HARRISON PIANOS, 205 WEST 58TH STREET, (just west of 7th avenue), (212) 489-0666 $15 general admission: tickets at the door

December 11, 7 PM
Steven R. Gerber,  Chamber Music
Gerber’s Two Intermezzi for Piano (1984-85) and Cocktail Music (Song Without Words) (1990) will be performed by the composer as part of the 
Brooklyn Conservatory Composers Collective concert. Works by Beth Levin, David Del Tredici, Will Redmond, Sean Hickey, Paul Steven Ray, Ben Morss, JoAnne Maffia and Michael Rose will also be presented. 

Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, 58 Seventh Ave., corner of Lincoln Place in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Tickets for this concert are $5. For more info, please contact Brooklyn Conservatory at 718-622-3300.

December 11-12
WELCUM YULE - Six Centuries of Christmas Music
The Canticum Novum Singers and  Youth Choir  present a program of Christmas choral music from the Renaissance to the present, including jazz settings and traditional carols.   Saturday, Dec. 11, 8 PM, St. Paul the Apostle Church, 415 W 59th St. on Columbus Avenue, NYC; Sunday, Dec. 12, 3 PM, St. Ignatius Episcopal Church, 552 West End Ave. on 87th Street, NYC. TICKETS are $20, available at the door, or in advance through TicketCentral, 212-279-4200 or www.ticketcentral.com.

Send announcements to the Editors 

Piano Time

Deborah Kravetz

Three pianists, two composers, one world premiere -- all three Philadelphia
premieres and all with differing styles!

Charles Abramovic is a composer as well as a pianist, and performed this, his first large-scale Concerto for Piano, Strings and Timpani (2003). A strong timpani pattern opens the Overture, and the piano is accompanied by string swoops and ground before they lay out a vaguely Hungarian theme followed by straight rhythmed chords and drum rolls. A baroque counterpoint section for strings follows, embellished by fragmentary timpani, hints of Vivaldi's Winter and wildly contrasting modern expression and percussion. The Nocturne section is primarily subdued, delicate and slow, while Toccata is fast and furious with an Eastern European influence.

David Finko's 1971 Moses Concerto for Piano and Orchestra was inspired by
his first reading of the Bible, and focuses on the dialog between the doubting Moses and the willful Israelites. So what else is new? This struggle is in one movement with the piano as the voice of Moses, and the orchestra representing God and the Israelites. God is also in the opening brass anthem, opposed by heavy piano chords, and continues raucous and
percussive throughout, with only a brief quiet piano and flute passage of serenity.

Uri Caine is usually a jazz musician, and has made many recordings of his
arrangements and improvisations. This concert presents his 2001 version of
Beethoven's Diabelli Variations filtered into one great big cadenza.

Orchestra 2001 
Piano Summit
Trinity Center
Philadelphia, PA
Reposted Penn Sounds 12-02-04

Carlisle Floyd was awarded the 2004 National Medal of Arts. Eight medals were presented by President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush in an Oval Office ceremony at the White House. 
 Eight medals were presented by President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush in an The National Endowment for the Arts notified the artists of their selection to receive a National Medal of Arts, the
nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence. Medals also went to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, author Ray Bradbury, sculptor
Frederick Hart (deceased), poet Anthony Hecht (deceased), wildlife artist John Ruthven, architectural historian Vincent Scully, and choreographer Twyla Tharp.

“These eight [recipients] have significantly enriched the cultural life of our nation through their creativity, teaching, and beneficent
work.” said Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “These artists and this foundation have given us new
ways of understanding and delighting in the world.”

Floyd is considered by many the most important American opera composer and librettist in our nation’s history. With Susannah (1955), Of Mice and Men (1970), and Cold Sassy Tree (2000), he has more titles in the standard repertoire than any other U.S.-born composer. In addition, his operas Willie Stark and The Passion of Jonathan Wade have been featured productions in companies such as the Houston Grand Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Metropolitan Opera, San Diego Opera, and New York City Opera among others. 

Floyd's commitment to American opera spans more than 50 years, representing a dedication to new works and new singers. His operas have been performed more than any other living American composer aside from Gian Carlo Menotti. Through his 12 operas, his expressive clarity, lyricism, and realization of the value of song have ensured a dedicated following among both audiences and critics.

The element that makes Floyd stand out among his peers is his ability to write successful operas that capture what it is to live in the United States. Whether set in the Appalachian Mountains, Louisiana, a small Georgia town, or California’s central valley, Floyd gave America an operatic voice. Using hymns, spirituals, and jazz in sophisticated, lucid, and powerful ways, Floyd has helped shape the formation of an American operatic style.

As an educator, Floyd has played a crucial role in two important training programs. In 1977, he was co-founder of the Houston Opera Studio. He also accepted the M.D. Anderson Professorship at the University of Houston, a position he held until his retirement in 1996. Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to passing on his vision of contemporary music to new generations of composers and singers. 

Floyd has received honors from arts organizations, educational establishments, and governments and in 2001 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His most performed opera, Susannah, won the New York Music Critic's Circle Award and represented America at the 1958 Brussels World Fair. Andrew Porter of The New Yorker summarized the lasting value of Floyd's oeuvre saying, "He has learned the international language of successful opera in order to speak it in his own accents and to enrich it with the musical and vernacular idioms of his own country.”

The Medal of Arts, established by Congress in 1984, is awarded by the President to those who have made extraordinary contributions
to the creation, growth, and support of the arts in the United States. 

Old Stuff
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
Copland's Mexico
On Being Arvo
Rzewski Plays Rzewski
Praising Lee Hyla
David Lang's Passing Measures
Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for our Editor's Pick's of the month.  Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019
             THIS WEEK'S PICKS

Different Trains
Composer:  Steve Reich
David Robertson,
Orchestre National de Lyon

This is a  new version of Reich's haunting 1988 masterpiece  (the original used four string quartets--both pre-recorded and live) prepared for 48 strings  by the composer at the suggestion of the conductor David Robertson.  The result further enhances the lyricism and emotional impact of this powerful piece, which contrasts the trains that young Reich rode across the United States to visit his divorced parents in the 1940s with  the trains of Nazi Germany during the same period.   It is  coupled with two other  major scores by Reich: Triple Quartet (1999) for 36 strings, and The Four Sections (1986), a "concerto for orchestra" that highlights each of the sections of the large symphony orchestra in turn

Symphonies 2 & 3
Composer: Philip Glass
Marin Alsop,
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Marin Alsop conducts the Bournemouth symphony orchestra in extraordinary performances of Glass' Second and Third symphonies.  The  Second was comissioned by the Brooklyn Acadamy of Music and premiered there in 1994 by Dennis Russell Davies. The Third, which arrived only three years later,  is composed for chamber orchestra.   Lots of  polyharmonies, rousing finales, and fully-formed symphonic statements. Essential listening for anyone interested in contemporary music. 

Nuit des Hommes
Composer:  Per Nørgård
Markus Falkbring, viola
Helene Gjerris, mezzo-soprano
Andreas Hagman, violin
Kaare Hansen, conductor
Fredrik Lindström, cello
Helge Rønning, tenor
Bodil Rørbech, violin
Gert Sørensen, percussion
First performed  in 1996,  Nørgård called this  "… an opera of sorts …"  Whatever it is,  it is both radical and powerful.  Two singers, male and female, take on three roles each, as well as chorus, over the course of 65 minutes, augmented by two violins, viola, cello and percussion doubling electronic keyboards. The text comes from Guillaume Apollinaire's surreal and emotionally-charged poetry  inspired by the atrocities of World War, which also inspired  Shostakovich in his Fourteenth Symphony.  Raw and riveting.

The Chamber Music of Aaron Copland
Performers: Music From Copland House Michael Boriskin, Paul Lustig Dunkel, ensemble co-directors, Derek Bermel, clarinet, Michael Boriskin, piano, Paul Lustig Dunkel, flute, Nicholas Kitchen, violin, Wilhelmina Smith, cello 

Music From Copland House  is the resident ensemble at Aaron Copland's longtime New York home, now restored as a unique creative center for American music. Since its triumphant New York debut at the Opening Night of Merkin Concert Hall's 1999-2000 season, Music from Copland House has emerged as one of the most exhilarating and distinctive ensembles on the American music scene.  In this beautifully played two CD set,  they return to their roots--the extraordinarily rich chamber pieces of Aaron Copland, who would have been 104 on November 14.  This disk is a real sleeper.

The Piano Concertos,
Paganini Rhapsody
Composer:  Sergei Rachmaninov
Stephen Hough (piano),
Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Litton

You may find better individual performances of each of Rachmaninov's four  piano concertos (Leif Ove Ondnes's No, 3, for example) but this 2-disk set is hard to beat as a one-stop listening experience.  Cobbled together from 11 live performances over an 18-day period, the power chord, big sound,  sweeping Rachmaninov romanticism has never sounded, well, bigger or more romantic.   Littton is a Rocky Romantic Show specialist and it shows in the orchestra's splendid melding with Hough's oversized playing.  Highly recommended, even if you already have them all.

The Concerto Project 1
Composer: Philip Glass
Cello Concerto, 
Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists
and Orchestra
Julian Lloyd Webber (cello),
Evelyn Glennie (timpani),
Jonathan Haas (timpani),
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra,
Gerard Schwarz
Orange Mountain 

Every shard of Glass seems to finding its way onto a CD nowadays and it's getting harder to tell the major Glass from the--forgive me--half Glass.  This is major Glass.  The Cello Concerto is a real beauty, played with real passion by Lloyd Webber and the RLP.  The timpani concerto is great, too, once you get past the thought that maybe Phil borrowed the opening from Lalo Schifrin.  This is the first of a series of four CDs that Philip Glass and Orange
Mountain Music have planned entitled The Concerto Project, No. I-IV Each
disc contains two concerti.

Mass - A Theatre Piece for
Singers, Players & Dancers
Composer:  Leonard Bernstein
Jerry Hadley (tenor),
Rundfunkchor Berlin,
Paci. c Mozart Ensemble,
Staats-und Domchor Berlin,
Deutsches Symphonie-
Orchester Berlin, Kent Nagano
harmonia mundi

What's a nice Jewish boy like Leonard Bernstein doing writing a Mass?  In this case, he was invited to do so by Jacqueline Kennedy for the opening of Kennedy Center in 1971.  This is Lennie at his most flamboyant, employing a big theatrical cast, mixed chorus, children’s choir, dancers and a rock band.  The libretto for Mass intersperses texts written by Bernstein and Stephen Schwartz (lyricist for Godspell) into the Roman Mass. The work explores the mass from the point of view of the Celebrant (sung by Jerry Hadley), who is experiencing a crisis of faith. The Celebrant’s faith is simple and pure at first, yet that faith gradually becomes unsustainable under the weight of human misery, corruption, and the trappings of human power. In the end, the Celebrant, on the verge of renouncing
his faith,  finds that the loneliness of his doubt is no match for the joy of gathering together with other believers
in praise. 

Composer:  Guiseppe Verdi
Michele Pertusi (bass),
Carlos Alvarez (tenor), Ana Ibarra (soprano), Marina Domashenko (mezzo-soprano), Jane Henschel (mezzo-soprano), Maria Josè Moreno (mezzo-soprano), Bülent Bezdüz (tenor),
London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus,
Sir Colin Davis
LSO Live

Hot on the heels of their highly  acclaimed recording of Britten’s Peter Grimes, Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra are joined by a magnificent cast led by Michele Pertusi for a spectacular performance of Verdi’s comic masterpiece, Falstaff.
Recorded during the LSO’s centenary celebrations in 2004, this new recording of Falstaff is one of the LSO Live’s finest performance to date.  Who needs major  record labels


Philadelphia Stories / UFO
Composer: Michael Daugherty
Performers: Evelyn Glennie, percussion / Colorado Symphony Orchestra / Marin Alsop, conductor 

Something 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. 
Commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2001, Philadelphia Stories is an orchestral travelogue of the sounds and rhythms of Philadelphia past and present.  UFO, written in 1999 for Evelyn Glennie, is inspired by unidentified flying objects and sounds, beginning with Traveling Music where the percussion soloist, in the guise of an alien from outer space, mysteriously enters the concert hall playing a waterphone and mechanical siren.

Orchestral Works
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.

Chamber Works
Composer: Dan Locklair 
Albany Records

Dan 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. 


Orchestral Works
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 

German-born 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. 

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Publisher:  Duane Harper Grant  (212) 582-4153
Editors:    Jerry & Suzanne Bowles   (212) 582-3791
Contributing Editors: Deborah Kravetz, David Salvage
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