Congratulations to composer and multi-instrumentalist Henry Threadgill, who has won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in music. One of the original AACM members, Threadgill’s recent work has been distinguished by an intervallic approach to improvisation, in which each member of the band has a limited catalogue of intervals that they can perform, with the sum total creating intriguing harmonic and contrapuntal materials.
In for a Penny, in for a Pound, the prizewinning work, features Zooid, the band with which Threadgill has worked for fourteen years, using just such an approach to making music. In addition to two short movements, Threadgill has composed long movements that each successively feature a different member of Zooid.
Threadgill’s latest recording, Old Locks and Irregular Verbs, features Ensemble Double Up, the first new band with which he has recorded in fifteen years. It includes pianists Jason Moran and David Virelles, alto saxophonists Roman Filiu and Curtis MacDonald, cellist Christopher Hoffman, tuba player Jose Davila, and drummer Craig Weinrib. Cast in four movements, it is dedicated to the late Butch Morris, channeling some of his “conduction” style of improvisation.
My article today in Musical America reviews the NY Philharmonic’sContact! Concert on 12/16 at the Met Museum. While I enjoyed the music – hearing HK Gruber perform Frankenstein!! was a particular treat – I took issue with the announcement at the event of Alan Gilbert being awarded Columbia University’s Ditson Prize, which recognizes a conductor for his advocacy for American composers. This season, the Contact! series includes only one American: Elliott Carter. It’s a far cry from their inaugural season just two years ago, when they featured Sean Shepherd, Nico Muhly, Arlene Sierra, and others. Perhaps Maestro Gilbert will take the opportunity of being acknowledged for past programming decisions to reinvest future seasons of Contact! with a commitment to emerging American composers.
ASCAP and the League of American Orchestras presented 26 Adventurous Programming awards to orchestras who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to contemporary composers at a special Awards Presentation held today during the League’s 66th National Conference in Minneapolis.
“For the past 54 years, the members of ASCAP have presented adventurous programming awards to orchestras whose mission not only perpetuates the great orchestral tradition of the past, but insures that concert music in America remains relevant, vibrant and alive,” said Frances Richard, ASCAP Vice President & Director of Concert Music, “We salute those orchestras who have a commitment to the music creators of our time.”
Cia Toscanini, ASCAP Assistant Vice President of Concert Music, presented the awards to American orchestras whose past season prominently featured music written within the last 25 years.
The winners are:
John S. Edwards Award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music:
Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Justin Brown, Musical Director and Principal Conductor
Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming:
Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director
Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming:
Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä, Music Director
Awards for Programming of Contemporary Music:
Group 1 Orchestras (expenses more than $15.9 million):
First Place: New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert, Music Director
Second Place: The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Third Place: Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Giancarlo Guerrero, Music Director
Group 2 Orchestras (expenses $7.5 million – $15.9 million):
First Place: New World Symphony, America’s Orchestral Academy, Michael Tilson Thomas, Artistic Director
Second Place: Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, JoAnn Falletta, Music Director
Third Place: Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Kahane, Music Director
Group 3/4 Orchestras (expenses $2.0 million – $7.5 million):
First Place: Albany Symphony Orchestra (NY), David Alan Miller, Music Director and Conductor
Second Place: The New Haven Symphony Orchestra, William Boughton, Music Director
Third Place: Dayton Philharmonic, Neal Gittleman, Music Director and Conductor
Group 5/6 Orchestras (expenses $550,000 – $2.0 million):
First Place: American Composers Orchestra, Robert Beaser, Artistic Director/George Manahan, Music Director, Derek Bermel, Creative Advisor
Second Place: Berkeley Symphony, Joana Carneiro, Music Director
Third Place: Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Rossen Milanov, Music Director, Princeton Symphony Orchestra
Group 7/8 Orchestras (expenses less than $550,000):
First Place: The New England Philharmonic, Richard Pittman, Music Director and Conductor
Second Place: Yakima Symphony Orchestra, Lawrence Golan, The Helen N. Jewett Music Director
Third Place: Pioneer Valley Symphony, Paul Phillips, Music Director and Conductor
First Place: Ithaca College Symphony Orchestra, Jeffery Meyer, Director of Orchestras
Second Place: Lamont Symphony Orchestra, Lawrence Golan, Music Director and Conductor
Third Place: Cornell University Orchestras, Chris Younghoon Kim, Director of Orchestras
First Place: Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras, Allen Tinkham, Music Director
Second Place: Empire State Youth Orchestras, Helen Cha-Pyo, Music Director and Youth Orchestra Conductor
Third Place: New York Youth Symphony, Ryan McAdams, Music Director
First Place: Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Marin Alsop, Music Director and Conductor
Second Place: Aspen Music Festival and School, Asadour Santourian, Vice President for Artistic Administration and Artistic Advisor
The 2011 Celebrate Asia competition from the Seattle Symphony is now open!
Seattle Symphony’s Celebrate Asia announces the second Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia Composition Competition. The Competition seeks to promote and recognize young composers who are interested in Asian culture, music and traditions. The concept originated in 2008, when local Asian leaders wanted to find a way to strengthen bonds with the broader community through a cultural celebration. Celebrate Asia is part of the Seattle Symphony’s Around the World series.
The Seattle Symphony, presenting its 109th season in 2011–2012, will come under the artistic leadership of Music Director Designate Ludovic Morlot in September 2011, following the close of Gerard Schwarz’s Farewell Season as Music Director. The Orchestra performs in the acoustically superb Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. The Symphony is internationally recognized for its adventurous programming of contemporary works, its devotion to the classics, and its extensive recording history. From September through July, the Symphony is heard live by more than 315,000 people.
•Award and Performance
The winning composer will receive a $1,000 cash award and an opportunity to visit Seattle for the world premiere. The winning score will be performed by Seattle Symphony and conductor Mei Ann Chen on February 24, 2012, in Benaroya Hall at the annual Celebrate Asia! concert.
All composers born after January 1, 1966, are eligible.
Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony Music Director
Simon Woods, Seattle Symphony Executive Director
Elena Dubinets, Seattle Symphony Vice President of Artistic Planning
Members of the Seattle Symphony Artistic Advisory Committee
1.Works must have Asian influences (for example: Asian folk melodies, Asian stories and legends, Asian traditional instruments).
2.Works must be new, original and accessible.
3.Works should be 3 to 6 minutes in duration.
4.Works should be for orchestra or chamber orchestra with instrumentation no larger than 3333 – 4331 – T+3 – hp – kybd – str. Woodwind doublings are allowed.
5.The submitted work must have had no prior performances.
6.Interested composers should submit:
– A legible, bound, full score
– A recording of the piece on a CD (midi-format is OK)
– A clear description of the composition’s Asian influence(s)
– A biography, with current address, e-mail address, and phone number
– If selected, professionally prepared parts will be required 60 days before the concert.
•Entry Fee and Deadline
There is no entry fee. All entries must arrive no later than Friday, October 21, 2011. Seattle Symphony is not responsible for lost or damaged material. The winning composition will be announced before Friday, November 18, 2011.
•Send submission to:
Seattle Symphony Celebrate Asia Composer Competition
ATTN: Amy Stagno
P.O. Box 21906
Seattle, WA 98111-3669
Questions and inquiries may be emailed to: email@example.com
We’re saddened to learn from David Starobinof the passing of composer Peter Liebersonin Israel, due to complications from Lymphoma. He had been battling the disease since 2006 and for a time it had been in remission. But in late 2010, Lieberson travelled to Israel to seek treatment for a recurrence of the cancer.
Lieberson’s music was an extraordinary mixture of disparate strands of influences. It encompassed an intuitive post-tonal vocabulary, rooted in dodecaphonic training but also capable of lush verticals and, particularly in his vocal music, supple lyricism and sweeping melodies. In later years, his interest in meditation and Zen Buddhism contributed another layer of resonances and an intriguingly metaphysical counterweight to some of the modernist tendencies of his oeuvre.
Among the many honors he attained was the prestigious Grawemeyer Prize, which he won in 2008 for Neruda Songs. Although he was a finalist for the award on multiple occasions, the Pulitzer Prize eluded him. Back in 2004, I suggested that this injustice made him the “Pulitzer’s Susan Lucci.”
Of course, during this sad time, one can’t help but think of the passing of Lieberson’s late wife, the extraordinary mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, also of cancer. Lieberson wrote a number of memorable pieces for her, including the aforementioned Neruda Songs. If there’s a signature example to use when we advocate for our government to continue to fund medical research, I’d offer this one up: two brilliant creators in the prime of life laid low so cruelly. Both had so much yet to offer. It’s a tragedy that we’re bereft of their artistry and humanity far too soon.
Sure, we all can complain about the Grammy Awards. For me, the lack of representation of classical music and jazz on the telecast is just one of many disappointments. But before the glitz of the runway and glamour of the broadcast, several artists were acknowledged for their achievements in these genres.
The Naxos Group nearly ran the table last night. Their artists and imprints picked up a total of nine Grammy awards.
Noteworthy among the winners were Michael Daugherty, recognized for his Deux Ex Machina, and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra; they garnered 3 awards for their Naxos All-Daugherty recording (Best Contemporary Classical Composition, Best Orchestral Performance, Best Engineered Album, Classical).
The NSO has had quite a challenging year; they were compelled to vacate their performance space, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, for several months due to the severe flooding that struck the city in May, 2010. Now, they’re back in their renovated home and they have much to celebrate!
When the 2010 Composer Collaboration Awards call for proposals went out on May 10, 2010, music presenters, ensembles, and composers all over the San Francisco Bay Area called, paged, and emailed one another, then got together to put their dream projects down on paper in time for the deadline.
Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music – Laura Karpman and Independent Producers/Authors, The Kitchen Sisters
The Cabrillo Festival is one of the leading festivals dedicated to contemporary classical music. The work brings together Emmy award-winning composer Laura Karpman together with The Kitchen Sisters (authors and radio producers Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson) to create a multi-media, full evening length symphonic production titled The Hidden World of Girls.The Hidden World of Girls will focus on stories of lives shaped by the secrets girls carry with them into adulthood. The premiere is scheduled for July 28 & 29, 2012 at the 50th anniversary season of the Cabrillo Festival.
Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (FAMSF) – Sarah Wilson and Aerial Dance Company, Catch Me Bird
Inspired by the incredible architecture, landscape and visual arts collections of the de Young Museum, Off the Walls will be a new jazz composition for aerial dance, which will be performed at assorted locations outside, inside and on the sides of the museum. It will be an evening length, site-specific work performed by composer Sarah Wilson, Catch Me Bird Aerial Dance Company, and an ensemble of 12-18 Bay Area musicians and dancers. The premiere is scheduled for March 2013.
Jewish Community Center of San Francisco – Mark Izu and Choreographer, Kimi Okada
The JCCSF’s Friend Center for the Arts aims to create a forum for innovative projects in multi-disciplinary and multicultural contemporary and traditional performance. It will commission a multi-media, multi-disciplinary work composed by Mark lzu and choreographed by Kimi Okada entitled Mu. Incorporating Korean, African, Indian, Japanese, and Hawaiian traditional music and dance, the piece heralds the end of the Mayan calendar and uses the legend of Mu, an ancient empire of blessings and noble values destroyed by materialism and greed, as a parable for today. The premiere is scheduled for December 2012.
Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana de San Jose Incorporated (MACLA) –Guillermo Galindo and Chamber Ensemble, Quinteto Latino
MACLA is a San Jose-based contemporary arts space grounded in the Chicano/Latino experience. The company incubates new visual, literary and performance art in order to engage people in civic dialogue and community transformation. Guillermo Galindo and Quinteto Latino will create Voces del Desierto, a piece that will explore the journeys of unnamed immigrants who cross the Mexican-American border in search of a better life. The premiere is scheduled for late 2011 or early 2012. San Francisco Girls Chorus – Gabriela Lena Frank and Librettist, Nilo Cruz
One of the premier girls’ choruses in the U.S., the San Francisco Girls Chorus will commission Gabriela Lena Frank to create a cantata for treble chorus, chamber orchestra, and vocal soloists in collaboration with librettist Nilo Cruz. Marrying Western classical music tradition with Latin American folk music, Holy Daughters (working title) examines the cultural clash and interchange between European colonialism and indigenous tradition, and the role and perception of women in both worlds. The premiere is scheduled for June 2013.
Z Space Studio (Z Space) – Marcus Shelby and Co-Creator, Margo Hall
Known nationally as a premier performance development lab for artists, Z Space will create a new work by composer/musician Marcus Shelby and actor/director/singer Margo Hall. The new musical performance piece will explore the journey of a young black woman growing up in Detroit during one of the most exciting times for music and one of the most turbulent for civil rights. Loosely based on Ms. Hall’s life, Detroit represents a link to her childhood where her father was a well-known Detroit musician and as a child, she sang with her “aunties,” who were members of the Supremes band. The premiere is scheduled for January/February 2013.
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The 53rd Annual Grammy nominations have been announced (list of nominees in the Classical category here). Lots of contemporary classical represented, even in the more general categories.
Congratulations to Steve Mackey and Michael Daugherty: both are up for Best Classical Album. The ensembles that recorded their works, BMOP and the Nashville SO, respectively, are also up for Best Orchestral Performance.
Kaija Saariaho’sL’Amour de Loin was nominated in the Opera category, while Magnus Lindberg’sGraffiti and Arvo Pärt’s Symphony No. 4 were both nominated for Best Classical Contemporary Composition.
Also glad to see the Sherry Quartet’s recording of Schoenberg and the Parker Quartet’sLigeti disc (both on Naxos) receiving nominations.
There’s much more. And, of course, there will always be omissions that dismay us. Particularly so in 2010: this was a good year for recordings!
Congratulations to Louis Andriessen for winning the University of Louisville’s 2011 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. He received the award for La Commedia, his fourth opera. This year’s award is $100,000.