2017 Guest Composers
Georg Friedrich Haas
Georg Friedrich Haas was born in 1953 in Graz, a city in the east of Austria. His childhood was spent in the mountainous province of Vorarlberg, on the Swiss border. The landscape and the atmosphere of the place have left a lasting impression on his personality.
The atmosphere was marked not so much by natural beauty in the accepted sense of the word. Rather, Haas experienced the mountains as a menace; he felt closed in by the narrow valley where the sun rarely penetrated. Nature for him represented a dark force.
The composer adds: “Just as important for me was the experience of being an outsider: unlike my younger siblings, I never learned to speak the local Alemannic dialect. Also, I was a Protestant in a predominantly Catholic society.” To study music, Haas returned to his native city where his professors were Gösta Neuwirth and Ivan Eröd. Later, he continued his studies in Vienna with Friedrich Cerha.
Haas: “For all our apparent differences (and probably mutual personal disappointments) I learned from Eröd – apart from many things about the craft of composition – one principle above all else: that the measure of everything is Man, that is, the possibilities inherent in human perception”.
Haas holds Friedrich Cerha in high esteem, something that the older composer (born in 1926) returns in full measure. When the occasion arises, they demonstrate their mutual appreciation unstintingly. In 2007, it was Cerha, the doyen of Austrian composers, who proposed his former pupil for the Great Austrian State Prize which Haas duly received that year.
Until then, however, Haas had had a thorny path to traverse. He speaks openly of the years of “total failure” in trying to make his mark as a composer – another experience to leave its imprint on his development, aggravating his pessimistic leanings. Success, when it did gradually emerge, only mitigated his pessimism but could never wholly eliminate it.
It is no wonder, then, that night, darkness, the loss of illusions should have played such an important role in Haas’ oeuvre (such as in his Hölderlin-opera Nacht, 1995/1998). It was not until quite recently that his music has been illuminated by light.
Light effects, as integral components of a range of his compositions, have featured prominently for quite some time now, designed by artists specially for the music. (in vain, 2000, and particularly Hyperion, a Concerto for Light and Orchestra, 2000). However, light as opposed to darkness first emerged as late as 2006 in Sayaka for percussion and accordion as well as in the piano trio Ins Licht (2007) written for Bálint András Varga.
Georg Friedrich Haas is known and respected internationally as a highly sensitive and imaginative researcher into the inner world of sound. Most of his works (with the notable exception of the Violin Concerto, 1998) make use of microtonality which the composer has subjected to thorough examination in the wake of Ivan Wyschnegradsky and Alois Hába. He has taught courses and lectured on the subject in several countries; in 1999 he was invited by the Salzburg Festival to give a talk under the title “Beyond The Twelve Semitones”, with the subtitle “Attempt at a Synopsis of Microtonal Composition Techniques”. In the last paragraph, he writes:
“Micro counts as ‘tonality’ only in contrast with ‘normal tonality’ in its role as a system of reference. Where this system of reference has become obsolete, the notion of ‘microtonality’ has been replaced by the free decision of the individual composer in his use of pitch as his material.”
Haas: “I am not really comfortable with being pigeonholed as a ‘microtonal composer’. Primarily, I am a composer, free to use the means needed for my music. There is no ideology regarding ‘pure’ intonation, either as Pythagorean number mysticism or as a notion of ‘Nature’ determined by trivial physics. I am a composer, not a microtonalist.”
In each new work, Haas enters uncharted territory, but his music is firmly rooted in tradition. His profound admiration for Schubert has found moving expression in his Torso of 1999/2001, an orchestration of the incomplete piano sonata in C major, D 840, an image of the tragic figure of Franz Schubert. Haas paid respect to Mozart not only in his "… sodaß ich’s hernach mit einem Blick gleichsam wie ein schönes Bild…im Geist übersehe," composed for string orchestra in 1990/1991, but also in 7 Klangräume, 2005, meant to be interspersed with movements of Mozart’s Requiem fragment (that is, divested of the supplements provided by his pupils). In Blumenstück, 2000, for chorus, bass tuba and string quintet, one hears echoes of Beethoven (perhaps never intended by the composer). In the Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, 2003/2004, the solo instrument quotes a motif from Franz Schreker’s opera Der ferne Klang (‘O Vater, dein trauriges Erbe’). Commissioned by the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Haas’s Traum in des Sommers Nacht (2009) is a tribute to Mendelssohn, drawing on motifs from works of that composer, masterfully woven into Haas’ own music.
The Cello Concerto, just as Wer, wenn ich schriee, hörte mich ..., 1999, for percussion and ensemble, reflects Haas’s political commitment and his bitter realisation of his helplessness as a composer: there is no way his music could serve to better the world. The percussion concerto was written at the time of the Balkan war; when Haas heard aeroplanes flying overhead carrying their deadly burden, he asked himself whether anyone could hear him, if he were to cry out in protest against the war. The Cello Concerto begins with a scream in unbearable pain, followed by a section where the drumbeat conjures up the march rhythm of the Prussian army: a plea against fascism.
A daringly innovative composer of rich imaginative power, a homo politicus aware of his responsibilities as a citizen, Georg Friedrich Haas is one of the leading artists in Europe today. Among the prizes he has won are the SWR Symphony Orchestra Composition Prize 2010, the Music Award of the City of Vienna 2012 and the Music Award Salzburg 2013. Haas currently serves as Professor of Music Composition at Columbia University, having previously held dual professorships at the Hochschle für Musik in Basel, Switzerland, and the Kunstuniversität in Graz, Austria. For more information on Georg Friedrich Haas and his music, visit his publisher, Universal Edition.
Active as a composer, concert curator, and writer on music, Dan Visconti (b. 1982) is updating the role of the classical musician for the 21st century as he creates new projects in collaboration with the community. For his ongoing initiatives to address social issues through music by reimagining the arts as a form of cultural and civic service, Visconti was awarded a 2014 TED Fellowship and delivered a TED talk at the conference’s thirtieth anniversary.
Visconti’s musical compositions are rooted in the improvisational energy and maverick spirit of rock, folk music, and other vernacular performance traditions—elements that tend to collide in unexpected ways with Visconti’s classical training, resulting in a growing body of work the Plain Dealer describes as “both mature and youthful, bristling with exhilarating musical ideas and a powerfully crafted lyricism.”
Upcoming projects include the interactive video game opera Permadeath, a collaboration with acclaimed Pulitzer-winning librettist Cerise Jacobs and director Michael Counts; Amplified Soul, a new showpiece for Venezuelan piano virtuoso Gabriela Martinez; Living Language, a genre-bending concerto for guitar and orchestra featuring Grammy-winning soloist Jason Vieaux and a consortium of US orchestras; a new work for jazz legend Branford Marsalis; and Psychedelia, a hallucinogenic encore commissioned by new music supergroup Alarm Will Sound.
Recent works include ANDY: A Popera, an opera/cabaret hybrid commissioned by Opera Philadelphia with the Bearded Ladies Cabaret (inspired by the life, work, and philosophy of pop artist Andy Warhol); Beatbox, a concerto for crossover pioneers Sybarite5; the electronics-laced Love Bleeds Radiant commissioned by the Kronos Quartet; and Roots to Branches, a concerto for Grammy-winning percussionist Shane Shanahan of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project that weaves together the real stories of living refugees. These projects typify Visconti’s approach of collaborative experimentation driving interactive experiences that engage diverse communities.
Visconti continues to receive commissions and performances by some of the top interpreters of contemporary music, including eighth blackbird (who toured internationally with his Fractured Jams), the Berlin Philharmonic Scharoun Ensemble, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, soprano Lucy Shelton, the Da Capo Chamber Players, the 21st Century Consort at the Smithsonian, Music from Copland House, pianist Lara Downes, and the JACK Quartet, at venues including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Library of Congress, London’s Barbican Theatre, Berlin’s Philharmonie, and the Sydney Opera House.
In recent seasons orchestras including the Seattle Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Albany Symphony, and Melbourne Symphony have also given his works repeated hearings. He has also held composer residencies including those with the California Symphony, Arkansas Symphony, and Metropolitan Opera. Recordings of Visconti’s music have debuted on the Billboard Top Ten and are available from Bridge Records, Cedille Records, Naxos, Sono Luminus, Azica Records, and Fleur de Son Classics.
Visconti’s compositions have been honored with the Rome Prize and Berlin Prize, the Bearns Prize from Columbia University, the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Performing Arts, the Barlow Prize, and the Cleveland Arts Prize; awards from BMI and ASCAP, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Society of Composers, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Naumburg Foundation; and grants from the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Fromm Foundation, Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Chamber Music America. He has also been the recipient of artist fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Copland House, the Lucas Artists Program at Villa Montalvo, and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
Visconti is a sought-after speaker on music and social topics including recent appearances at the Clinton School for Public Service, the National Archive, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is a contributing writer for the Huffington Post and his writing has also appeared in ArtsJournal, Medium, The Twenty-first Century Musician, and Symphony Magazine.
Visconti currently serves as Director of Artistic Programming at Chicago’s Fifth House Ensemble, a concert organization that presents innovative programs including collaborations with pop musicians from other cultures (Nedudim), educational partnerships with the incarcerated and at-risk youth (Broken Text), and the world’s first audience-interactive video game concert in which musicians react to the audience’s live gameplay for an immersive sonic experience as different as each potential audience (Journey LIVE). The New York Times cites Fifth House Ensemble’s “conviction, authority and finesse” while the San Francisco Chronicle writes of the ensemble’s most recent CD release: “The whole undertaking is marked by spirited music-making of the finest kind”; and the Chicago Tribune noted that the group “demonstrated how far talent and imagination can go to create something bracingly different.” Visconti is also composer-in-residence at the ensemble’s annual Fresh Inc Festival, where he works with young musicians on cultivating musical careers in line with their own unique vision and values.
More info on Dan Visconti and his music can be found at http://www.danvisconti.com
2016 Guest Composers
Described as possessing “an unconventional lyricism and a menacing beauty” and a “unique voice,” British/American composer Oscar Bettison’s music has been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles and soloists around the world. His work demonstrates a willingness to work within and outside the con nes of concert music. He likes to work with what he calls “Cinderella instruments,” either by making percussion instruments or by re- imagining other instruments as well as writing for instruments more common in rock music and the inclusion of electro-acoustic elements. More recent pieces have been concerned with bringing these strands together. His music has been featured and reviewed in the LA Times, the New York Times, the British, Dutch, and Italian press as well as having been played on radio throughout the US, Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, and Brazil and on British and Dutch television. His latest work has been described as “pulsating with an irrepressible energy and vitality, as well as brilliant craftsmanship.”
Recent commissions have included new works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The New York Philharmonic Contact! Series, MusikFabrik, The Berkeley Symphony, Talea Ensemble, So Percussion, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Rolf Hind and the Roundhouse (London), the Tanglewood Music Center, the Dag in de Branding Festival (The Netherlands) and the Tonlagen Festival (Germany).
He has been the recipient of a number of awards including a Chamber Music America Commissioning Award (2013), the Yvar Mikhashoff Commissioning Fund Prize (2009), a Jerwood Foundation Award (1998), the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize (1997), the first BBC Young Composer of the Year Prize (1993) as well as fellowships to both the Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals.
The subject of several recordings, his first full-length album, O Death (featuring the evening-long work of that name, performed by Ensemble Klang), was released in 2010 to great acclaim in the Dutch and US media. Other recent recordings include B&E (with aggravated assault) as performed by NEWSPEAK on New Amsterdam Records, Bird Forms on a Neutral Background on Karnatic Lab Records. A recording of his chamber concerto Livre des Sauvages is due to be released on Wergo Records in 2017.
Born in the UK, he studied with Simon Bainbridge at the Royal College of Music (London), with Louis Andriessen and Martijn Padding at the Royal Conservatorium of The Hague (The Netherlands), and was a Naumberg fellow at Princeton University where he completed his PhD in 2008 with Steve Mackey as his advisor. He has served on the composition faculty of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University since 2009.
In January 2014, Erin Gee was cited by Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, as a member of the short list of the most influential composer-vocalists of the 21st century and since then has been awarded the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and an Edward T. Cone Bogliasco Fellowship and has received a commission from the Shillim Foundation. Her series of compositions entitled Mouthpieces, uses non-traditional vocal techniques, devoid of semantic language, to construct intricate and subtle patterns of a diverse array of vocal sounds. In the Mouthpieces, the voice is used as an instrument of sound production rather than as a vehicle of identity. Linguistic meaning is not the voice’s goal. The construction of the vocal text is often based on linguistic structure—vowel-consonant formation and the principle of the allophone—and is relatively quiet, with a high percentage of breath. The Mouthpieces began as solo vocal works, devoid of semantic text or language and notated with the International Phonetic Alphabet. In the Mouthpiece series, the voice is used as an instrument of sound production rather than as a vehicle of identity. Linguistic meaning is not the voice’s goal.
The series began as one piece for solo voice, which she began performing as a graduate student, and has grown to over 25 works for orchestra, opera, vocal ensemble, large chamber ensemble and string quartet, which have been performed internationally with some of the top ensembles for new music. Her works are taught in the composition and musicology programs of many leading universities such as MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Smith College, and Mills College, and she has lectured at Harvard, UC Berkeley, Dartmouth and Wellesley. Ms. Gee’s career began with commissions for her own voice as a soloist or in combination with other instruments, but now regularly includes requests from singers wishing to perform her works, or commissions from ensembles and vocalists who would like to interpret a new Mouthpiece in the series.
Her debut portrait CD, Mouthpieces was released in January 2014 on the col legno label in Vienna and received a warm and thoughtful review in Gramophone, the premier review magazine for classical music. The review stated, “Erin Gee clearly has a contribution to make,” and mentioned the “tangible virtuosity of Gee’s formidable vocal execution, as well as the comparable (if relatively more orthodox) finesse of the instrumental component.”
Gee’s awards for composition include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, the 2008 Rome Prize, the 2015 Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Zürich Opera House’s Teatro Minimo, and the Picasso-Mirò UNESCO Medal among others. She has been commissioned twice by the Zurich Opera House for the opera SLEEP, by the Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group under Esa-Pekka Salonen, and for four pieces by Klangforum Wien. Gee has also worked with the Latvian Radio Chamber Choir, Ensemble Surplus, Alter Ego, Either/Or Ensemble, Wet Ink, Metropolis Ensemble, Repertorio Zero, and many others. The American Composers Orchestra commissioned Mouthpiece XIII: Mathilde of Loci Part I for Zankel Hall in Carnegie Hall, which was highlighted in Symphony Magazine (March/April 2010), and cited in the New York Times as “subtle and inventive.”
She has had performances in Europe, North America, South America, Hong Kong and Japan and in the Wittener Tage für Neue Musik, Musik Protokoll in Steirischer Herbst, Klangspuren, Darmstadt Festival Summer Courses, the Sonic Festival, and the Zurich Tage der Neue Musik among others. Gee was in residence at the Montalvo Arts Center and the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart in 2010. She is active as a vocal performer of her own work, but it is not designed exclusively for her voice. Ms. Gee is currently an Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Illinois, Urbana- Champaign. Her chapter titled “The Notation and Use of the Voice in Non-semantic Contexts: Phonetic Organization in the Vocal Music of Dieter Schnebel, George Aperghis and Brian Ferneyhough” is published by Routledge Press in the book Vocal Music and Contemporary Identities, edited by Christian Utz and Frederick Lau.
Through her Mouthpiece series she has created an ephemeral world that expands the possibilities of the voice, leaves behind the structure of language, and emphasizes a virtuosic mouth and a tabula rasa for an emotional palate. Composer, Professor and former Arts Director for the American Academy in Rome Martin Brody’s states in his CD liner notes, “Erin Gee presents a set of voluptuous enigmas – a taxonomy of finely-etched utterances devoid of meaning; an orderly syntax of sounds that vaporizes fixed forms; an aesthetic environment that feels at once extraterrestrial and uncannily familiar.”
2015 Guest Composers
‘It is snow, it is snow!’ So sing the instruments in Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee (2008), one of the most remarkable musical compositions of this century so far. Snow, in returning the world to whiteness, makes each winter a spring: a clean sweep, a fresh page. Schnee when it first appeared – at Witten in 2008 and on disc the next year – seemed very much like a new start, and indeed, Abrahamsen is a composer who has made the new start almost a way of life. From the early winter works, Winternacht (1976-78) - the defining work of his mid-twenties - and Zwei Schneetänze (1985), to the recent Double Concerto for violin, piano and strings (2010-11), with its chilling-exhilarating quasi-unisons of high piano and string harmonic, we sense the fresh flakes falling, quietly blanking out the landscape. We may feel we recognize this music, even as we recognize also its unfamiliarity, the sharp scent of new snow.
Hans Abrahamsen was born in 1952, and received his musical education from, amongst others, Per Nørgård, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen and György Ligeti. An early beginner – his first published works date from when he was sixteen – he had produced a sizeable output by the time he reached thirty: several orchestral works (including Nacht und Trompeten (1981), a luminous and dramatic nocturne commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic), two string quartets and numerous other pieces, mostly instrumental. In 1984 came a set of seven piano studies (later increased to Ten Studies) after which Abrahamsen’s productivity gradually slowed, then stopped.
In 2000 he completed his first extended work in a decade an a half, the Piano Concerto, at once intimate and tightly crafted, as close to Schumann as it is to Stravinsky, speaking at certain moments with intense poignancy. What might have seemed a breakthrough, however, proved an impasse, and it was at this point that Abrahamsen turned again to his piano studies to remake the first four as Four Pieces For Orchestra, which had its UK premiere at the BBC Proms in 2005.
The new millennium has brought a sequence of major new works that opened in earnest with Schnee; his Third String Quartet (2008), in four short movements, is a relatively simple piece that remains deeply puzzling; Wald for fifteen players (2009) is at once natural depiction (in this case of shadowy forests), cultural evocation (of horn calls, hunts and lurking mystery) and elaborate musical construct; and the Double Concerto (2010-11), exquisite and touching, reaches steadily to moments of bursting brilliance.
In addition to his small yet condensed output of original works, Abrahamsen has found an outlet as an arranger and, indeed, as a rearranger, which – in Abrahamsen’s own words – allows him to find himself in aspects of other composers’ music. Prominent Danish composer Per Nørgård benefited from Abrahamsen’s reorchestrating abilities in 1992 when the latter produced a new sinfonietta version of Nørgård’s small ensemble work Surf marking the occasion of that composer’s 60th birthday. In recent years, Abrahamsen’s work as an orchestrator has gone on, notably with a reduction of Nielsen’s Symphony No. 6 (2010) and an arrangement of Debussy’s Children’s Corner (2011).
Hans Abrahamsen received the Carl Nielsen Prize in 1989 and the Wilhelm Hansen Composer Prize in 1998. He is featured composer at the Witten Days for New Chamber Music in Germany in spring 2012.
Andrew Norman (b. 1979) is a Los Angeles-based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music.
Andrew’s work draws on an eclectic mix of sounds and notational practices from both the avant-garde and classical traditions. He is increasingly interested in story-telling in music, and specifically in the ways non-linear, narrative-scrambling techniques from other time-based media like movies and video games might intersect with traditional symphonic forms. His distinctive, often fragmented and highly energetic voice has been cited in the New York Times for its “daring juxtapositions and dazzling colors,” in the Boston Globe for its “staggering imagination,” and in the L.A. Times for its “audacious” spirit and “Chaplinesque” wit.
Andrew’s symphonic works have been performed by leading ensembles worldwide, including the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics, the Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, the BBC, Saint Louis, Seattle, and Melbourne Symphonies, the Orpheus, Saint Paul, and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestras, the Tonhalle Orchester, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France, and many others. Andrew’s music has been championed by some of the classical music’s eminent conductors, including John Adams, Marin Alsop, Gustavo Dudamel, Simon Rattle, and David Robertson.
In recent seasons, Andrew’s chamber music has been featured at the Bang on a Can Marathon, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Wordless Music Series, the CONTACT! series, the Ojai Festival, the MATA Festival, the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, the Green Umbrella series, the Monday Evening Concerts, and the Aspen Music Festival. In May of 2010, the Berlin Philharmonic’s Scharoun Ensemble presented a portrait concert of Andrew’s music entitled “Melting Architecture.”
Andrew was recently named Musical America’s 2017 Composer of the Year. He is the recipient of the 2004 Jacob Druckman Prize, the 2005 ASCAP Nissim and Leo Kaplan Prizes, the 2006 Rome Prize, the 2009 Berlin Prize and a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship. He joined the roster of Young Concert Artists as Composer in Residence in 2008 and held the title “Komponist für Heidelberg” for the 2010-2011 season. Andrew has served as Composer in Residence with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Opera Philadelphia, and he currently holds that post with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Andrew’s 30-minute string trio The Companion Guide to Rome was named a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and his large-scale orchestral work Play was named one of NPR’s top 50 albums of 2015, nominated for a 2016 Grammy in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category, and recently won the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.
Andrew is a committed educator who enjoys helping people of all ages explore and create music. He has written pieces to be performed by and for the young, and has held educational residencies with various institutions across the country. Andrew joined the faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music in 2013, and he is thrilled to serve as the new director of the L.A. Phil’s Composer Fellowship Program for high school composers.
Andrew recently finished two piano concertos, Suspend, for Emanual Ax, and Split, for Jeffrey Kahane, as well as a percussion concerto, Switch, for Colin Currie. Upcoming projects include a symphony for the Los Angeles Philharmonic and collaborations with Jeremy Denk, Jennifer Koh, Johannes Moser, yMusic, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the London Symphony.
Andrew’s works are published by Schott Music.
2014 Guest Composers
Pulitzer Prize winning composer Zhou Long (b. July 8, 1953) is recognized internationally for creating a unique body of music that brings together the aesthetic concepts and musical elements of East and West. Deeply grounded in the entire spectrum of his Chinese heritage, particularly its philosophical, and spiritual ideals, he is a pioneer in combining the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions with contemporary Western ensembles and compositional forms. His creative vision has resulted in a new music that achieves an exciting and fertile common ground.
In 2011, Zhou Long was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his first opera, Madame White Sake. In their citation the jurors described the work as 'a deeply expressive opera that draws on a Chinese folk tale to blend the musical traditions of the East and the West.' He has been awarded 2012-2013 Elise Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; the largest prize devoted to chamber music composition and is presented every two years in recognition of significant contributions to the field. Zhou Long is currently Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance.
Zhou Long was born into an artistic family and began piano lessons at an early age. During the Cultural Revolution, he was sent to a rural state farm, where the bleak landscape with roaring winds and ferocious wild fires made a profound and lasting impression. He resumed his musical training in 1973, studying composition, music theory, and conducting, as well as Chinese traditional music. In 1977, he enrolled in the first composition class at the reopened Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Following graduation in 1983, he was appointed composer-in-residence with the National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra of China. Zhou Long travelled to the United States in 1985 under a fellowship to attend Columbia University, where he studied with Chou Wen-Chung, Mario Davidovsky, and George Edwards, receiving a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1993. After more than a decade as music director of Music From China in New York City, he received ASCAP’s Adventurous Programming Award in 1999, and its prestigious Concert Music Award in 2011.
His awards include 2003 Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Masterprize and the CalArts/Alpert Award, and winning the Barlow International Competition, with a performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has been two-time recipient of commissions from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, and the New York State Council on the Arts. He has received fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, in addition to recording grants from the Cary Trust and the Copland Fund for Music. Among the ensembles commissioning works from him are the Bavarian Radio, BBC, Kansas City, Honolulu, California Pacific and Singapore Symphonies; the Brooklyn, Tokyo, China Philharmonics, the New Music Consort, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Kronos, Shanghai, Ciompi, and Chester string quartets, Ensemble Modern-Frankfurt, the Post-Classical Ensemble, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, New York New Music Ensemble, the Chanticleer, Opera Boston, Beijing Music Festival, and musicians Yo-Yo Ma, Lan Shui, Long Yu, Lihua Tan and Leonard Slatkin.
In 2012, Zhou Long has composed two orchestral works: University Festival Overture and Beijing Rhyme - A Symphonic Suite, commissioned by the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, premiered and recorded on EMI in 2013; a solo piano work Pianobells, commissioned by Dr. Susan Chan and premiered at the Musica Nova concert in the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance; a chamber work, Cloud Earth for chamber ensemble, commissioned by The New York New Music Ensemble and premiered on its 35th anniversary celebration, at the Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. In 2013, Zhou Long has composed a whole evening symphonic epic Nine Odes on poems by Qu Yaun (ca. 340 BCE - 278 BCE) for four solo vocalists and orchestra, commissioned by the Beijing Music Festival Arts Foundation and premiered in October 2013 as a tribute to his 60th. In addition, Zhou has complete a new chamber work co-commissioned and premiered by the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society in New York and Europe's leading venue for chamber music and song, Wigmore Hall in London for their 2014 Season. His new piano concert Postures, co-commissioned by the Singapore symphony and BBC Proms will be premiered on July 4, 2014 in Singapore and September 2, 2014 at Royal Albert Hall in London.
Zhou's works have been recorded on Warner, Naxos, BIS, EMI, CRI, Teldec (1999 Grammy Award), Cala, Delos, Sony, Avant, Telarc and China Record.A United States citizen since 1999, Zhou Long is married to the composer-violinist Chen Yi. It should be noted that Zhou is his family name and Long is his personal name, and he should be referred to as Mr. Zhou or Dr. Zhou. Zhou Long is published exclusively by Oxford University Press.
Nico Muhly has composed a wide scope of work for ensembles, soloists and organizations including the American Ballet Theater, American Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony, percussionist Colin Currie, countertenor Iestyn Davies, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, violinist Hilary Hahn, Gotham Chamber Opera, designer/illustrator Maira Kalman, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, Music- Theatre Group, New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Paris Opéra Ballet, soprano Jessica Rivera, The Royal Ballet, Saint Thomas Church in New York City , Seattle Symphony , and artist Conrad Shawcross. Muhly has also lent his skills as performer, arranger and conductor to Antony and the Johnsons, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Doveman, Grizzly Bear, Jónsi of the band Sigur Rós, and Usher.
In 2011, Muhly’s first full-scale opera, Two Boys, was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center Theater and the English National Opera. Two Boys, which—with a libretto by Craig Lucas and direction by Bartlett Sher—chronicles the real-life police investigation of an online relationship and ensuing tragedy, premiered in London in spring 2012. A chamber opera, commissioned by the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Music Theatre Group, and the Gotham Chamber Opera premiered in New York in fall 2012.
Recently, the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Decca released an entire disc of Muhly’s choral music, A Good Understanding. The Aurora Orchestra recorded his Seeing is Believing, and with choreographer Stephen Petronio, Muhly created the evening-length I Drink the Air Before Me, both of which were also released on Decca. Among Muhly’s most frequent collaborators are his colleagues at Bedroom Community, an artist-run label headed by Icelandic musician Valgeir Sigurðsson. Bedroom Community was inaugurated in 2007 with the release of Muhly’s first album, Speaks Volumes. Since then, Muhly has released a second album, Mothertongue, and worked closely with labelmates Sigurðsson, Ben Frost, and Sam Amidon on their respective solo releases. In spring 2012, Bedroom Community released Muhly’s three-part Drones & Music, in collaboration with pianist Bruce Brubaker, violinist Pekka Kuusisto, and violist Nadia Sirota. Muhly’s film credits include scores for Joshua (2007), Margaret (2009) and Best Picture nominee The Reader (2008); all have been recorded and released commercially.
Born in Vermont in 1981 and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, Muhly graduated from Columbia University with a degree in English Literature. In 2004, he received a Masters in Music from the Juilliard School, where he studied under Christopher Rouse and John Corigliano. From his sophomore year of college, worked for Philip Glass as a MIDI programmer and editor for six years. His writings and full schedule can be found at www.nicomuhly.com.
2013 Guest Composers
Augusta Read Thomas
August Read Thomas, born in 1964 in Glen Cove, New York, was the Mead Composer-in-Residence for Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1997 through 2006. In 2007, her ASTRAL CANTICLE was one of the two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Music. The "Colors of Love" CD by Chanticleer, which features two of Thomas' compositions, won a Grammy award.
Thomas is a member of: the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Advisory Committee of the Alice M. Ditson Fund at Columbia University; the Board of Trustees of the American Society for the Royal Academy of Music; the Eastman School of Music's National Council; as well as boards and advisory boards of several chamber music groups including the Ice Ensemble. She has been on the Board of Directors of the American Music Center since 2000. She was elected Chair of the Board of the American Music Center, a volunteer position that ran from 2005 to 2008.
G. Schirmer, Inc. is the exclusive publisher of her music worldwide, and her discography includes 57 commercially recorded CDs.
For the 2014-2015 academic year, Augusta will be a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar.
Thomas was awarded fellowships from the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, and was a fellow for three years in the exclusive Harvard University Society of Fellows.
Her music, which is regularly performed worldwide, has been conducted by: Christoph Eschenbach, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Mstislav Rostropovich, Seiji Ozawa, Leonard Slatkin, Oliver Knussen, David Robertson, Lorin Maazel, Sir Andrew Davis, Jiří Bĕlohlávek, Hans Graf, Marin Alsop, Cliff Colnot, Xian Zhang, Andrey Boreyko, William Boughton, Gil Rose, Gerard Schwarz, John Nelson, Joana Carneiro, Hans Vonk, Markus Stenz, Dennis Russell Davies, George Benjamin, Ludovic Morlot, Robert Trevino, Hannu Lintu, Josephine Lee, Michael Lewanski, Bradley Lubman and George Manahan among others.
Thomas received awards from the Siemens Foundation in Munich; ASCAP; BMI; National Endowment for the Arts (1994, 1992, 1988); American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; Guggenheim Memorial Foundation; Koussevitzky Foundation; New York Foundation for the Arts; John W. Hechinger Foundation; Kate Neal Kinley Foundation; Columbia University (Bearns Prize); Naumburg Foundation; Fromm Foundation; Barlow Endowment; French International Competition of Henri Dutilleux; Rudolph Nissim Award from ASCAP; and the Office of Copyrights and Patents in Washington, D.C. awarded her its Third Century Prize.
Seven years after graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in London, Thomas was elected as Associate (ARAM, honorary degree), and in 2004 was elected a Fellow (the highest honor they bestow) of the Royal Academy of Music (FRAM, honorary degree). In 1998, she received the Distinguished Alumni Association Award from St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. In 1999, she won the Award of Merit from the President of Northwestern University, and a year later received The Alumnae Award from Northwestern University. Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity initiated her as an Honorary Member in 1996.
Composer Daniel Kellogg has become one of the nation’s most prominent young composers. His 2010-11 season includes commissions for the Takács Quartet and a work for chorus and symphonic band, commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria, for the Wheaton College Symphonic Band and Choirs, conducted by John Nelson. This season also brings performances of Mr. Kellogg’s work at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Cleveland Chamber Music Society, Denver’s Friends of Chamber Music, the University of Colorado at Boulder, New York’s 92nd Street Y, and in Ann Arbor, as well as by the Air Force Academy, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Augusta Symphony, and the Fort Smith Symphony.
Mr. Kellogg’s Four Valentines was premiered by the Borromeo String Quartet at New York’s Merkin Concert Hall in December 2008. In March 2009, the Takács Quartet and the University of Colorado Wind Symphony premiered A Tent for the Sun, commissioned by Maestro Allan McMurray and the University of Colorado College of Music, as part of a five-school consortium. Other works have included a piano quintet, premiered at the Aspen Music Festival in 2008, and Western Skies, a commission from the National Symphony that was premiered at the Kennedy Center in April 2009, conducted by Iván Fischer, with performances in Beijing, Xi’an and Seoul in June 2009.
Mr. Kellogg’s first commission from the National Symphony was Pyramus and Thisbe, which was premiered in 2007 to rave reviews. Conducted by Leonard Slatkin as part of the citywide “Shakespeare in Washington” Festival, the work was narrated by renowned actor John Lithgow. Mr. Kellogg wrote his first oratorio, The Fiery Furnace, on a commission from Soli Deo Gloria, Inc. The work was premiered in 2008 by the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Jahja Ling. Mozart’s Hymn, which was commissioned and premiered in Paris by the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, received its U.S. premiere at the Aspen Music Festival in 2006. Refracted Skies was premiered and commissioned by the Colorado Symphony, conducted by Jeffrey Kahane, in celebration of the opening of the new Frederick C. Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum in 2006.
In 2005, The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, premiered Mr. Kellogg’s work, Ben, which it commissioned to commemorate the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin. His music has been premiered by the Ying Quartet, the President’s United States Marine Band, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, cellist Fred Sherry, flutist Catherine Ramirez, and eighth blackbird. His works have been performed at the Caramoor Music Festival, and broadcast on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today,” New York’s WQXR, and China National Radio.
Mr. Kellogg completed his third year as composer-in-residence with the South Dakota Symphony during the 2008-09 season. He had previously been in residence with the Green Bay (WI) Symphony, which gave the premiere of La Luz for orchestra and chorus. Mr. Kellogg has been honored with two Charles Ives Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and his sixth ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. He also received ASCAP’s Rudolf Nissim Award for his orchestral work Jasper and Carnelian, which was premiered by the Santa Barbara Symphony. In 2002, he was chosen as Young Concert Artists Composer-in-Residence and won the Harvey Gaul Composition Competition to write a work for the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and won the 2000 William Schuman Prize from BMI.
Born in Wilton, Connecticut in 1976, Mr. Kellogg received his Bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute and Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the Yale School of Music. He has studied at Indiana University, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. His teachers have included Don Freund, Ned Rorem, Jennifer Higdon, Joseph Schwantner, Ezra Laderman, and Martin Bresnick. Mr. Kellogg served as composer-in-residence at the University of Connecticut in 2000-2001, and has since returned as a visiting lecturer. He currently holds the post of Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Colorado at Boulder and resides in Colorado with his wife, pianist Hsing-ay Hsu Kellogg, and their daughter, Kaela Li. His Divinum Mysterium has been released, to critical acclaim, on eighth blackbird’s Cedille Records CD, Beginnings.
2012 Guest Composers
Composer Steven Stucky (b. 1949), whose Second Concerto for Orchestra earned him the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in music, has written commissioned works for many of the world’s great soloists and for the orchestras of Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Minnesota, New York, Philadelphia, Singapore, St. Louis, Washington (National), and many others. Recordings of his works have won Stucky two Grammy awards, and he has been resident composer at Aspen, the American Academy in Rome, the Bogliasco Foundation in Liguria, and countless college campuses. He was host of the New York Philharmonic’s “Hear & Now” new-music series from 2005 to 2009. Currently he serves as vice-chair of New Music USA and chair of the membership committee of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; is a trustee of the American Academy in Rome; and serves on the music awards panel of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Stucky’s strongest affiliation has been with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was resident composer for 21 years. He oversaw the celebrated “Green Umbrella” concert series and formed a strong partnership with music director Esa-Pekka Salonen, with whom he still collaborates frequently. A much sought-after teacher, Stucky has held posts at the Eastman School of Music and UC Berkeley in addition to his tenured position as Given Foundation Professor of Composition at Cornell University, where he has taught since 1980.
Recent seasons have included premieres by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Music Northwest (Portland), Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and pianist Emanuel Ax. In May 2011, the Dallas Symphony revived Stucky’s concert drama, August 4, 1964, with performances in Dallas and at New York’s Carnegie Hall, followed by CD release on the orchestra’s own label in July 2012.
The 2011-12 season will see premieres by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Music From Angel Fire, and performances by the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, and many others. Stucky is the Pittsburgh Symphony’s 2011-12 “Composer of the Year,” and he will be Composer-in-Residence with the Berkeley Symphony in 2012-13.
Born in Dublin in 1970, Donnacha Dennehy has received commissions from Dawn Upshaw, the Kronos Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Bang On A Can All-Stars, Electra, the Fidelio Trio, Icebreaker, Joanna MacGregor, Orkest de Ereprijs, Orkest de Volharding, Percussion Group of the Hague, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, the Ulster Orchestra (BBC Radio 3), Smith Quartet, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players among others. Collaborations include pieces with the choreographers Yoshiko Chuma (To Herbert Brun) and Shobana Jeyasingh, (Hinterlands), the writer Enda Walsh (Misterman) and the visual artist John Gerrard (Composition for Percussion, Loops, Blips and Flesh).
His work has featured in festivals such as ISCM World Music Days, Bang On A Can in New York, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, WNYC’s New Sounds Live, Sonic Evolutions Festival at Lincoln Center, EXPO, the Ultima Festival in Oslo, Fuse Leeds, the Saarbrucken Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the State of the Nation at the South Bank in London and the Gaudeamus Festival in Amsterdam. In 2010, his large single-movement orchestral piece, Crane, was 'recommended' by the International Rostrum of Composers.
Returning to Ireland after studies abroad at the University of Illinois (USA), Ircam (France) and the Netherlands, Dennehy founded the Crash Ensemble, Dublin's now renowned new music group, in 1997. Crash Ensemble is very much associated with the performance of many of Dennehy's landmark works, including the pieces Grá Agus Bás (with the singer Iarla O' Lionaird) and That the Night Come (with Dawn Upshaw), which feature on Dennehy's 2011 release on Nonesuch Records (entitled Grá Agus Bás). The Guardian, in a 5-star review of that disc referred to the music's "startling freshness". NPR named the disc one of its "50 Favorite Albums" (in any genre) of 2011. It also featured in many other end-of-2011 lists including both the listener's poll and John Schaefer's top ten from WNYC.
Upcoming premieres include pieces for the Kronos Quartet, and Dawn Upshaw with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. At present, Dennehy is working on a new piece for Upshaw and Alarm Will Sound. Dennehy lectures in music composition at Trinity College Dublin, and was appointed a Global Scholar at Princeton University for 2012-13.
2011 Guest Composers
London-born Anna Clyne is a composer of acoustic and electro-acoustic music, combining resonant soundscapes with propelling textures that weave, morph, and collide in dramatic explosions. Her work, described as “dazzlingly inventive” by Time Out New York, often includes collaborations with cutting edge choreographers, visual artists, film-makers, and musicians worldwide. Currently the Chicago Symphony’s Mead Composer-in-Residence through the 2011-12 season, Anna Clyne served as the Director of the New York Youth Symphony’s award winning program for young composers “Making Score” from 2008 to 2010.
Ms. Clyne’s work has been championed by some of the world’s finest conductors, including Esa-Pekka Salonen, Riccardo Muti, Marin Alsop, Osmo Vänskä, George Manahan, Jeffrey Milarsky, and Alan Pierson. Recent commissions include the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, the London Sinfonietta, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Upcoming projects include a collaboration with the violinist Jennifer Koh, artist, Josh Dorman and choreographer Nicolo Fonte.
She has received numerous accolades, including eight consecutive ASCAP Plus Awards, a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Clutterbuck award from the University of Edinburgh. Additionally, she has received honors from Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Jerome Foundation. Ms. Clyne was a finalist for the ASCAP Morton Gould Composer Award, and was recently nominated for a 2010 British Composer Award.
Ms Clyne holds a first-class Bachelor of Music degree with honors from Edinburgh University and a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Marina Adamia and Julia Wolfe. She currently resides in Chicago. Her music is published by Boosey & Hawkes. “Anna Clyne is an artist who writes from the heart, who defies categorization and who reaches across all barriers and boundaries. Her compositions are meant to be played by great musicians and listened to by enthusiastic audiences no matter what their background.” – Ricardo Muti.
Roger Reynolds (b.1934) was educated in music and science at the University of Michigan. His compositions incorporate elements of theater, digital signal processing, dance, video, and real-time computer spatialization, in a signature multidimensionality of engagement. The central thread woven through Reynolds' uniquely varied career entwines anguage with the spatial aspects of music. This center first emerged in his notorious music-theater work, The Emperor of Ice Cream(1961-62; 8 singers, 3 instrumentalists; text: Wallace Stevens), and is carried forward in the VOICESPACE series (quadraphonic tape compositions on texts by Coleridge, Beckett, Borges and others), Odyssey (an unstaged opera for 2 singers, 2 recitants, large ensemble,multichannel computer sound; bilingual text: Beckett), and JUSTICE (1999; soprano, actress, percussionist, computer sound and real-time spatialization, with staging; text: Aeschylus).
In addition to his composing, Reynolds's writing, lecturing,organization of musical events and teaching have prompted numerous residencies at international festivals. He was a co-director of theNew York Philharmonic's Horizons '84, has been a frequent participant in the Warsaw Autumn festivals, and was commissioned by Toru Takemitsu to create a program for the Suntory Hall International Series. Reynolds's regular masterclass activity in American universities also extends outward: to the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Ircam in Paris,the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, to Latin America and Asia, to Thessaloniki. His extensive orchestral catalog includes commissions from the Philadelphia, Los Angeles and BBC Orchestras.
In 1988, perplexed by a John Ashbery poem, Reynolds responded withWhispers Out of Time, a string orchestra work which earned him the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. Critic Kyle Gann has noted that he was the first experimentalist to be so honored since Charles Ives. Reynolds' writing -- beginning with the influential book, MINDMODELS (1975), and continuing, most recently, with FORM AND METHOD: Composing Music (2002) -- has also appeared widely in Asian, American and European journals. Reynolds's music, recorded on Auvidis/Montaigne, Lovely, New World, Pogus, and Neuma, among others,is published exclusively by C.F. Peters Corporation, New York.
In 1998, Mode Records released WATERSHED, the first DVD in Dolby Digital 5.1 to feature music composed expressly for a multichannel medium. "As in all art making, there is a kind of 'alchemy' going on [producing] a richly nuanced and authentic result," an lead listeners to follow him into new regions of emotion and meaning."
2010 Guest Composers
Martin Bresnick was born in New York City in 1946. He was educated at the High School of Music and Art, the University of Hartford (B.A. '67), Stanford University (M.A. '68, D.M.A. '72), and the Akademie für Musik, Vienna ('69-'70). His principal teachers of composition include György Ligeti, John Chowning, and Gottfried von Einem. Presently Professor of Composition and Coordinator of the Composition Department at the Yale School of Music, he has also taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (1971-72) and Stanford University (1972-75). He has served as the Valentine Professor of Music, Amherst College (1993), the Mary Duke Biddle Professor of Music, Duke University (1998), the Cecil and Ida Green Visiting Professor of Composition, University of British Columbia (2000), Composer-in-Residence, Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp (2001 and 2004), International Bartok Seminar, Director of Composition (2001), Visiting Professor of Composition, Eastman School of Music (2002-2003), Visiting Professor, New College, Oxford (2004), Housewright Eminent Scholar and Featured Guest Composer, Florida State University (2005), Visiting Composer, Royal Academy of Music, London (2005), Visiting Composer, Harvard University, (2009), Visiting Composer, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea, (2009).
Mr. Bresnick's compositions cover a wide range of instrumentation, from chamber music to symphonic compositions and computer music. His orchestral music has been performed by the National Symphony, Chicago Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, New Haven Symphony, Münster Philharmonic, Kiel Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Radio Televisione Italiana, Orchestra New England, City of London Chamber Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfonica do Estado de Sao Paulo, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonika, and Izumi Sinfonietta Osaka. His chamber music has been performed in concert by The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Sonor; Da Capo Chamber Players; Speculum Musicae; Bang on A Can All Stars; Nash Ensemble; MusicWorks!; Zeitgeist; Left Coast Ensemble; Musical Elements.
His music has been heard at numerous festivals: Sonic Boom, Bang on a Can, Adelaide, Israel, Prague Spring, South Bank's Meltdown, Almeida, Turin, Tanglewood, Banff, Norfolk, ISCM, New Music America, New Horizons. He has received commissions from: The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (1985), Orchestra New England (1986), Connecticut String Orchestra (1986), N.E.A. (consortium commission) (1987), Monticello Trio (1988), Koussevitzky Foundation (1989), Meet-the-Composer Reader's Digest commissioning program (1992), Greater Bridgeport Symphony (1992), National Endowment for the Arts (1992), Institute of Sacred Music (1993), Macon Arts Alliance (1994), Fromm Foundation (1995), Lincoln Center Chamber Players (1997), Sequitur (1997), Connecticut Commission on the Arts (1997), Meet-the-Composer (1998), Chamber Music America (1999).
He has received many prizes, among them: Fulbright Fellowship (1969-70), Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching at Stanford University (1973), three N.E.A. Composer Grants (1974, 1979, 1990); A.S.C.A.P. Awards (1975-present); Rome Prize Fellowship (1975-76), MacDowell Colony Fellowship (1977), Morse Fellowship from Yale University (1980-81), First Prize, Premio Ancona (1980), First Prize, International Sinfonia Musicale Competition (1982), Connecticut Commission on the Arts Grant, with Chamber Music America (1983), two First Prizes, Composers Inc. Competitions (1985, 1989), Semi-finalist, Friedheim Awards (1987), The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Elise L. Stoeger Prize for Chamber Music (1996), "Charles Ives Living" award, American Academy of Arts & Letters (1998), Composer-in Residence, American Academy In Rome (1999), the ASCAP Foundation's Aaron Copland Prize for teaching (2000), Berlin Prize Fellow, American Academy in Berlin (2001) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2003), and elected to membership, American Academy of Arts and Letters (2006).
Mr. Bresnick has written music for films, two of which, Arthur & Lillie (1975) and The Day After Trinity (1981), were nominated for Academy Awards in the documentary category, (both with Jon Else, director). Mr. Bresnick's music has been recorded by Cantaloupe Records, Composers Recordings Incorporated, Centaur, New World Records, Artifact Music and Albany Records and is published by Carl Fischer Music (NY), Bote and Bock, Berlin and CommonMuse Music Publishers, New Haven.
Described by the Toronto Star as an "eclectic with wide open ears", Grammy-nominated composer and clarinetist Derek Bermel has been widely hailed for his creativity, theatricality, and virtuosity. Bermel's works draw from a rich variety of musical genres, including classical, jazz, pop, rock, blues, folk, and gospel. Hands-on experience with music of cultures around the world has become part of the fabric and force of his compositional language.
Currently serving as Artist-in-Residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, Composer-in-Residence with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Creative Adviser to the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Bermel has received commissions from the Pittsburgh, National, Saint Louis, New Jersey, Albany, and Pacific Symphonies, Los Angeles and Westchester Philharmonics, the New York Youth Symphony, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, WNYC Radio, eighth blackbird, the Guarneri String Quartet, Music from China, De Ereprijs (Netherlands), Jazz Xchange (U.K.), Figura (Denmark), violinist Midori, electric guitarist Wiek Hijmans, cellist Fred Sherry, and pianists Christopher Taylor and Andy Russo, among others. His many awards include the Alpert Award in the Arts, the Rome Prize, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, the Trailblazer Award from the American Music Center, the Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Paul Boylan Award from the University of Michigan, the Quinto Maganini Award, the Harvey Gaul Prize, the Lily Boulanger Award, the Brian Israel Prize, commissions from the Koussevitzky and Fromm Foundations, Meet the Composer, and the Cary Trust, and residencies at Yaddo, Tanglewood, Aspen, Banff, Bellagio, Copland House, Sacatar, and Civitella Ranieri.
Last season Bermel performed as soloist alongside Wynton Marsalis in his Migration Series, a work commissioned by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and ACO. He also appeared as clarinet soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in conductor/composer John Adams' Gnarly Buttons, and as soloist in his own concerto Voices at the Beijing Modern Music Festival. The Philharmonia Orchestra in also produced an all-Bermel concert as part of its Music of Today series at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Highlights during this season include the Pittsburgh Symphony's premiere of The Good Life for chorus and orchestra, Golden Motors, a music-theatre collaboration with librettist/lyricist Wendy S. Walters, and a return to Carnegie Hall for two premieres: a Koussevitzky Commission for ACO conducted by Maestro Dennis Russell Davies, and as soloist in the world premiere of Fang Man's clarinet concerto. The recent CD of his orchestral works on BMOP/Sound was nominated for a 2010 Grammy, and a new CD of his large ensemble works is due to be released in 2010 by Alarm Will Sound.
Bermel has collaborated with artists in a wide variety of genres, including playwright Will Eno, filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson, installation artist Shimon Attie, landscape architect Andy Cao, choreographer Sheron Wray, performance artist Kim Jones, composer/sound designer David Reid, poets Wendy S. Walters, Mark Halliday and Naomi Shihab Nye, and Albert Bermel. As an educator, he founded the groundbreaking Making Score program for young composers at the New York Youth Symphony, and regularly leads masterclasses at universities, conservatories, and concert venues worldwide.
Bermel holds B.A. and D.M.A. degrees from Yale University and the University of Michigan. His main composition teachers were William Albright, Louis Andriessen, William Bolcom, Henri Dutilleux, André Hajdu, and Michael Tenzer, and he studied clarinet with Ben Armato and Keith Wilson. He also studied ethnomusicology and orchestration in Jerusalem with André Hajdu, later traveling to Bulgaria to study Thracian folk style with Nikola Iliev, to Brazil to learn caxixi with Julio Góes, and to Ghana to study Lobi xylophone with Ngmen Baaru. His music is published by Peermusic (North/South America & Asia) and Faber Music (Europe & Australia).