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Bruce Almighty

I must confess that I had never heard of pianist Bruce Levingston until he called me a couple of weeks ago. That is clearly an oversight on my part since a couple of minutes of googling reveals him to be a man of considerable resources, owner of a celebrity-stuffed Rolodex and impeccable taste–a kind of latter day combination of Paul Sacher and Peter Duchin.  Which would explain, of course, why he’s been under my radar for so long.

Levingston is the force behind the Premiere Commission, Inc., a non-profit organization that, as the name implies, supports the commissioning and first performances of new works. The organization was founded in 2001 with the support of composers William Bolcom and George Perle,  Morey Ritt, and arts patrons Richard Goldman, Michael Kempner, George Plimpton and David Rockefeller.

So far, the group has commissioned works by more than 30 composers, including Milton Babbitt, Angelo Badalamenti, Gordon Beeferman, Lisa Bielawa, William Bolcom, Regina Carter, Justine Chen, John Corigliano, Sebastian Currier, Curtis Curtis-Smith, David Del Tredici, Paul Festa, Philip Glass, Daron Hagen, Wendell Harrington, Zhou Long, Paul Moravec, John Patitucci, Lenny Pickett, Peter Quanz, Wolfgang Rihm, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Paul Schoenfield, Jonathan Sheffer, Hollis Taylor, Gregg Wramage, Charles Wuorinen and Chen Yi.   Glass’ A Musical Portrait of Chuck Close (see photo) is among the best-known of those commissions.

On Monday April 14, Levingston will emerge from his digs at the Chelsea Hotel (where he has lived long enough to have shared an elevator with Virgil Thompson) to perform a program called Points of Departure, a special solo concert at Zankel Hall that explores the unique artistic relationships between four of the most prominent composers of today and four of the most influential composers of the past. The concert includes world premieres of Pulitzer Prize-winner Charles Wuorinen’s Heart Shadow (inspired by Salman Rushdie and Claude Debussy) and 2007 Grawemeyer Award-winner Sebastian Currier’s Departures and Arrivals (inspired by Scarlatti and Liszt), as well as the New York premiere of Wolfgang Rihm’s Brahmsliebewaltzer (inspired by Brahms). The program also includes  works of Brahms, Scarlatti, Debussy, Liszt and Pärt.  Program and ticket sales are here.