North/South Consonance, Inc. continues its 34th season of free-admission concerts this Sunday afternoon February 16 when banjo virtuoso Ken Perlman joins conductor Max Lifchitz and the Grammy nominated North/South Chamber Orchestra for the premiere of Harold Schiffman’s Banjo Concerto.
The multigenerational program — part of the Composers Now Festival — honors Schiffman on the occasion of his 85th birthday while also featuring first performances of works by younger American composers including Brian Wilbur Grundstrom, Joseph Rubinstein, William Toutant and John Winsor.
The concert will take place at the intimate and acoustically superior auditorium of Christ & St Stephen’s Church (120 West 69th St – bet Bway & Columbus) on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It will start at 3 PM and end at 4:45 PM. No tickets necessary.
ABOUT THE PERFORMERS
Hailed as “the Heifetz of the Banjo” Ken Perlman is the acknowledged master of the 5-string banjo. The Glasgow (UK) Herald noted: “Perlman can make his instrument do more or less anything he wants it to” as his pioneering claw-hammer style picking helps spotlight the power and expressiveness of the wide range of music he performs. Perlman has toured across North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Western Europe and Australia. An acclaimed teacher of folk-music instrumental skills, Perlman has authored widely respected banjo and guitar instruction books and has been on staff at prestigious teaching festivals around the world.
Active as composer, pianist and conductor, Max Lifchitz was awarded first prize in the 1976 International Gaudeamus Competition for Performers of Twentieth Century Music held in Holland. Robert Commanday, writing for The San Francisco Chronicle described him as “a young composer of brilliant imagination and a stunning, ultra-sensitive pianist.” The New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn praised Mr. Lifchitz for his “clean, measured and sensitive performances” while Anthony Tommasini remarked that he “conducted a strong performance.” Payton MacDonald writing for the American Record Guide remarked:”Mr. Lifchitz is as good on the podium as he is behind the piano.”
ABOUT THE COMPOSERS
Harold Schiffman (b. 1928 in North Carolina) has been described by the international press as “a most distinguished composer whose well-crafted and communicative music repays repeated hearings.” He taught composition at Florida State University from 1959 until 1983 and also directed that institution’s New Music Festival. Especially written for Ken Perlman, Schiffman’s three-movement Banjo Concerto is cast in a traditional fast-slow-fast pattern. Inspired by Appalachian’s melodies, the work’s musical language recalls Baroque-era lute music while offering the soloist ample opportunity for technical display.
Brian Wilbur Grundstrom was honored with the 2013 Washington DC Outstanding Emerging Artist. He studied at the Gettysburg Conservatory and also attended the ASCAP/NYU Buddy Baker Film Music Workshop. His musical style has been described as “innovative in its use of melody and harmony which, although firmly rooted in the tonal tradition, is entirely new.” Chenonceau was written last summer after the composer visited the magnificent French castle in the Loire Valley known for the formal elegance and beauty of its gardens.
Active as tenor and composer, Joseph Rubinstein (b. 1986) studied at Columbia University and The Juilliard School before winning the 2012 Brian Israel Prize and a fellowship from America Opera Projects. His music is concerned with dramatic narrative and storytelling while being defined by vivid musical characterizations and striking juxtapositions. Shebesh Variations is a set of variations fashioned around an original Jewish-tune. Taking its cue from the meaning of the Yiddish word shebesh — something from the past that is buried or forgotten – the piece is an attempt to portray how sprawling, cosmopolitan East European cities of today have slowly grown up and around the remnants of old settlements from the past.”
Long time Los Angeles resident, William Toutant is the writer and host of “The KCSN Opera House” and also served as the Executive Director of the Romanian American Music Days Festival in Constanta, Romania. His works have been performed in Mexico, Nicaragua, France, Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain, and Romania. Written especially for the occasion, Toutant’s Administrative Suite is a series of musical impressions or “memories” of the many years the composer served as Dean of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication at California State University, Northridge. Eccentric, Nostalgic and Bureaucratic are the titles of the three movements.
Active as clarinetist and composer, John Winsor has taught at the Armed Forces School of Music and the Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts. Winsor won the Delius Award twice; has received several commissions from the Virginia Music Teachers Association; and also collected the 2000 Film Scoring Competition prize. The Faerie Queen is a fairly calm and atmospheric piece which is intended to evoke the impression of fairies flitting about. It employs pleasant instrumental colors and structural transparency resembling the music of Ravel and Debussy.
ABOUT NORTH/SOUTH CONSONANCE
Since its inception in 1980, North/South Consonance has brought to the attention of the New York City public over 1,000 recent works by composers hailing from throughout the Americas and elsewhere and representing a wide spectrum of aesthetic views. It activities are made possible in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
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