ALL TERRAIN STRING FESTIVAL: BOLCOM 4 X 4
Abelardo Valdés (1911–1958) was the beloved leader of a highly popular Cuban dance orchestra that bore the same name as the danzón he composed, Almendra (almonds). During the period of its greatest fame, in the 1940s and ’50s, ballroom dancers flocked to the orchestra’s live performances of its extensive repertoire, which their devoted public also knew from the many albums that it recorded.
Zhou Long (b. 1953) won a Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2011. He is internationally recognized 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, including folk, philosophical, and spiritual ideals, he is a pioneer in transferring the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions to modern Western instruments and ensembles. His creative vision has resulted in a new music that stretches Western instruments eastward and Chinese instruments westward, achieving an exciting and fertile common ground.
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 in 1993. After more than a decade as music director of Music from China in New York City, he received ASCAP’s prestigious Adventurous Programming Award in 1999.
Long has been the recipient of commissions from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, Chamber Music America, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Among the ensembles who have commissioned works from him are the Bavarian Orchestra (Poems from Tang), Tokyo Philharmonic (The Future of Fire), New Music Consort (The Ineffable), Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (Soul and Tian Ling), Peabody Trio (Spirit of Chimes), and the Kronos, Shanghai, Ciompi, and Chester string quartets. In 2010, his pioneering cross-cultural opera, Madame White Snake, which was premiered by Opera Boston, received great critical acclaim. It was given a second performance in 2010 in Beijing by the Bejing Philharmonic Orchestra. pulitzer.org/winners/zhou-long
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) ranks alongside Bach and Beethoven as one of the greatest composers in the Western tradition. His music exemplifies the Classical style with its emphasis on form and balance. He composed in every genre, from dances for Vienna’s balls to opera for its Imperial Theater, and his more than 600 surviving works amply testify to his genius. laphil.com
John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie
John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie (1917–1993), together with Charlie Parker, ushered in the era of Be-Bop in the American jazz tradition. Gillespie was born Cheraw, South Carolina, the youngest of nine children. He began playing piano at the age of four and received a music scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina. Most noted for his trademark “swollen cheeks,” Gillespie admitted to copying the style of trumpeter Roy Eldridge early in his career.
Gillespie went on to replace Eldridge in the Teddy Hill Band and eventually began experimenting and creating his own style, which came to the attention of Mario Bauza, “the godfather” of Afro-Cuban jazz. Gillespie joined the Cab Calloway Orchestra in 1939 but was fired two years later. According to legend, Gillespie cut Calloway’s buttocks with a knife after the great orchestra leader accused him of throwing spitballs. The two men later became lifelong friends and often retold this story with great relish until their deaths.
Gillespie was known for his on and off-stage clowning, yet he is considered one of the founding fathers of the Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz traditions. Influenced by Bauza, Gillespie fused Afro-American jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms to form a burgeoning CuBop sound. Always a musical ambassador, he toured Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America under the sponsorship of the US State Department. Quite often he returned with fresh musical ideas and musicians from other countries who would go on the achieve world renown.
Among his protégés and collaborators are Chano Pozo, the great Afro-Cuban percussionist; Danilo Perez, a master pianist and composer from Panama; Arturo Sandoval, the trumpeter, composer, and music educator from Cuba; Mongo Santamaria, an Afro-Cuban conguero, bonguero, and composer; David Sanchez, saxophonist and composer; Chucho Valdes, an Afro-Cuban virtuoso pianist and composer; and Bobby Sanabria, a Bronx-born Nuyorican percussionist, composer, educator, bandleader, and expert in the Afro-Cuban musical tradition. Indeed, many Latin jazz classics such as Manteca, A Night in Tunisia, and Guachi Guaro [Soul Sauce] were composed by Gillespie and his musical collaborators.
Elliott Carter (1908–2012) is internationally recognized as one of the most influential American voices in classical music, and a leading figure of modernism in the 20th and 21st centuries. He was hailed as “America’s great musical poet” by Andrew Porter and noted as “one of America’s most distinguished creative artists in any field” by his friend Aaron Copland. Carter’s prolific career spanned over 75 years, with more than 150 pieces, ranging from chamber music to orchestral works to opera, often marked with a sense of wit and humor. He received numerous honors and accolades, including the Pulitzer Prize on two occasions: in 1960 for his String Quartet no. 2 and in 1973 for his String Quartet no. 3. Other awards include Germany’s Ernst Von Siemens Music Prize and the Prince Pierre Foundation Music Award. Carter was the first composer to receive the National Medal of Arts, and is one of a handful of composers inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. He was recognized twice by the Government of France: being named Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and receiving the insignia of Commander of the Legion of Honor in 2012.
Born in New York City, Carter was encouraged towards a career in classical music by his friend and mentor Charles Ives. He studied under composers Walter Piston and Gustav Holst while attending Harvard University, and later traveled to Paris, studying with Nadia Boulanger. Following his studies in France, he returned to New York and devoted his time to composing and teaching, holding posts over the years at St. John’s College, the Peabody Conservatory, Yale University, Cornell University, and The Juilliard School, among others.
Carter’s early works, such as his Symphony no. 1 (1942) and Holiday Overture (1944), are written in a neoclassical style — influenced by his contemporaries Copland, Hindemith, and Stravinsky. After World War II, in works such as his Cello Sonata (1948) and String Quartet no. 1 (1950-51) he began to develop a signature rhythmic and harmonic language, which he continued to refine to the very end of his life. Igor Stravinsky hailed his Double Concerto for Harpsichord, Piano, and Two Chamber Orchestras (1961) and Piano Concerto (1965) as “masterpieces.”
Hilda Paredes (b. 1957) is firmly established as one of the leading Mexican composers of her generation. She has made her home in London since 1979, and her music is now performed widely around the world at major international festivals by prominent international ensembles and soloists.There is a testimony of a constant collaboration with Mexican poets and artists in her works, and her music has been acclaimed for the intense relationship it creates between time, dramatic force, and poetical approach. Paredes has been called “a composer with a fresh aural imagination” (The Guardian) and admired “for compositions that mix modernist rigor and extended techniques with a primal energy rooted in Maya lore” (The New York Times).
Paredes studied composition with Peter Maxwell Davies, Harrison Birtwistle, and Richard Rodney Bennett. After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music, she obtained her Master of Arts at City University in London and completed her Ph.D. at Manchester University.
She won the Music for Dance Award from the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1988 for her collaborations with choreographers. After taking part at the Garden Venture Opera Project in Dartington, she completed her first chamber opera, The seventh seed, which was released by Mode Records. Her second chamber opera, El Palacio Imaginado, was commissioned by Musik der Jahrhunderte, English National Opera, and the Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, and it premiered to much acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 2013, Paredes completed La tierra de la miel, a collaborative opera project commissioned by Susan Narucki. It premiered at University of California at San Diego. In 2014, Festval Internacional Cervantino in Mexico premiered Paredes’ A swallowed bait, a setting of Shakespeare’s sonnet 129 for baritone and ensemble, as part of the bard’s 400th birthday celebrations. More recently, as part of the celebrations for the Arditti Quartet’s 40th anniversary, she premiered her third string quartet, Bitácora capilar, at the Milton Court Theatre, and a shorter version of this work, Hacia una bitácora capilar, at the Festival Tage fur Neue Musik in Witten. In 2016, Ensemble Recherche premiered her Siphonophorae. Her works are published by University of York Music Press: www.uymp.co.uk
Paredes is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as awards and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Fund for Culture Mexico/USA, and the Arts Council of Great Britain. She is a beneficiary of the Sistema Nacional de Creadores (FONCA) in Mexico.
Paredes continues to be involved in the musical life of her native country, having been a radio producer of new music there and having taught at the university in Mexico City as well as several other music institutions, including Manchester University, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Buffalo, Dartmouth College, Centre Acanthes in France, and the Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya in Barcelona. In 2007, she was appointed the Darius Milhaud Visiting Professor at Mills College in California, where she recently returned as the Jean Macduff Vaux Composer-in-Residence.
Osvaldo Golijov grew up in an Eastern European Jewish household in La Plata, Argentina. Born in 1960 to a piano teacher mother and a physician father, Golijov was raised surrounded by classical chamber music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music, and the new tango of Astor Piazzolla. After studying piano at the local conservatory and composition with Gerardo Gandini, he moved to Israel in 1983, where he studied and immersed himself in the colliding musical traditions of that city. Upon moving to the US in 1986, Golijov earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied with George Crumb. As a fellow at Tanglewood, he studied with Oliver Knussen.
In the early 1990s, Golijov worked closely with two string quartets, the St. Lawrence and the Kronos. They were the earliest to project Golijov’s volatile and category-defying style in its true, full form. In 2002, EMI released Yiddishbbuk, a Grammy-nominated CD of Golijov’s chamber music, celebrating ten years of collaboration with the St. Lawrence String Quartet and featuring clarinetist Todd Palmer. The Kronos Quartet released three recordings featuring their collaborations with Golijov: The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind featuring David Krakauer, Caravan, and Nuevo.
In 2000, the premiere of Golijov’s St. Mark Passion took the music world by storm. Commissioned by Helmuth Rilling for the European Music Festival to commemorate the 250th anniversary of J.S. Bach’s death, the piece featured the Schola Cantorum de Caracas with the Orquesta La Pasión, all conducted by Maria Guinand. The CD of the premiere of this work received Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations in 2002.
For more than a decade Golijov has been inspired by the voice of Dawn Upshaw for whom he composed several works, including Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra, the opera Ainadamar, and the cycles Ayre and She Was Here.In 2006 Deutsche Grammophon released the recording of the opera Ainadamar, earning two Grammy awards: for best opera recording, and best contemporary composition.
In 2006 Lincoln Center presented a sold-out festival called The Passion of Osvaldo Golijov featuring his major works, his chamber music, and late night programs of music dear to him. In 2007 he was named first composer-in-residence at the Mostly Mozart Festival. He has also been composer-in-residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Spoleto USA Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Music Alive series, and many other festivals. In 2012–13, Golijov held the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall.
More recent works include Azul, a cello concerto for Yo-Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony, and Rose of the Winds, premiered by the Silk Road Ensemble and the Chicago Symphony. His works are published by Boosey and Hawkes. Deutsche Grammophon has issued the recordings of Ainadamar, Ayre, Oceana, Youth Without Youth, Tetro, and the CD and DVD of the St. Mark Passion. Other compositions have been released on Nonesuch, Sony Classical, Hänssler Classics, Naxos, Koch, Harmonia Mundi and EMI. Golijov is Loyola Professor of Music at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where he has taught since 1991.
Rafael Hernández Marín
Rafael Hernández Marín (1892–1965), also known as El Jibarito, is considered the greatest Puerto Rican composer of all time and one of the most celebrated in Latin America because his popular songs resonated throughout the region. A leading figure of Puerto Rican folk music, he left a legacy of more than 3,000 musical compositions of many different genres.
Born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico to parents who were Afro-Puerto Rican tobacco workers, Hernández Marín’s grandmother inspired his interest in music and paid for his music classes starting when he was 12 years old. He learned the cornet, trombone, bombardino (a valved horn with a range a little higher than a tuba), guitar, violin, and piano.
Around 1914 or 1915 a Japanese circus passed through Hernández Marín’s hometown. The circus owner heard of his musical abilities and hired Hernández Marín to tour the island with them. He made connections in San Juan and joined the Banda Municipal there, under the direction by Manuel Tizol (the father of valve trombonist Juan Tizol). Hernández Marín also played in a small orchestra, The Jolly Boys, and at a theater in Puerta de Tierra, a suburb of San Juan. He played the bombardino bajo in Sombras de la noche, directed by Carmelo Díaz Soler, at the Tres Banderas, the first movie theater in Puerto Rico. He also played violin in the Orquesta Sinfónica of San Juan. It was at this time that he started writing and composing songs.
American composer Jefferson Friedman was born in 1974 in Swampscott, Massachusetts. His music has been called “impossible to resist” by The New York Times, and Sequenza 21 reports, “[Mr. Friedman] goes a lot further toward sustaining interest and tension than composers twice his age (and with Pulitzer Prizes).” His work has been performed throughout the US and abroad, most notably at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, the Bowery Ballroom, (Le) Poisson Rouge, and the American Academy in Rome.Chiara String Quartet’s 2011 New Amsterdam Records release featuring his String Quartet no. 3 was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition of the Year.
Mr. Friedman has been commissioned three times by Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony Orchestra; his works March, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly, and Sacred Heart: Explosion were all written for the NSO. March is a brief closing piece, commissioned by the orchestra as part of the Hechinger Encores series. The Throne and Sacred Heart are the second and third sections of a planned orchestral trilogy entitled In the Realms of the Unreal, in which each movement is based on the life and work of a different American “outsider” or “visionary” artist.
The Throne is a musical depiction of Washington outsider artist James Hampton’s incredible sculptural work of the same name. After its premiere, The Washington Post described the piece as having “ambitious scale and complexity” and The Washington Times proclaimed, “Perhaps this country’s long drought of listenable classical music is now coming to an end. This work, frankly, is a keeper.” The piece has subsequently been performed by the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall and by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.
Israeli composer Chaya Czernowin (b. 1957) creates music that is played by some of the best performers of new music at major festivals in Europe, Japan, Korea, Australia, Canada, and the US. Her output includes chamber and orchestral music, with and without electronics. She composed two large scale works for the stage: Pnima…ins Innere (2000, Munich Biennale) chosen best premiere of the year by the Opernwelt annual critics survey, and Adama (2004–05), performed with Mozart’s Zaide (Salzburg Festival 2006). Czernowin in known for working with metaphor as a means of reaching a sound world which is unfamiliar, using noise and physical parameters as weight, using textural surface (as in smoothness or roughness), working with the problematization of time and unfolding and shifting of scale in order to create a vital, visceral and direct sonic experience, all with the aim of reaching a music of the subconscious which goes beyond style, conventions, or rationality.
Ms. Czernowin was the first woman to be appointed a composition professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, Austria and at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is the Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music. She also taught at University of California – San Diego, and together with composer Steven Kazuo Takasugi, she founded the summer Academy at Schloss Solitude, a biannual course for composers. Takasugi and Czernowin also teach at Tzlil Meudcan, an international course based in Israel and founded by Yaron Deutsch of Ensemble Nikel.
In addition to numerous other honors, Czernowin represented Israel at UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers (1980); was awarded the Stipendiumpreis (1988) and Kranichsteiner Musikpreis (1992) at Darmstadt Fereinkurse; prizes, awards, and fellowships from the Siemens Foundation (2003), Rockefeller Foundation (2004), Fromm Foundation (2009), and Guggenheim Foundation (2011); as well as the Heidelberger Kunstlerinen Preis (2016).She was appointed artist in residence at the Salzburg Festival in 2005–06 and at the Lucern Festival in Switzerland in 2013. Her CD Chaya Czernowin: The Quiet was awarded the Quarterly German Record Critics’ Award (2016).
Chaya Czernowin was born and brought up in Israel. She continued her studies in Germany, the US, and Japan, with a DAAD scholarship and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as an Asahi Shimbun Fellowship. Her music is published by Schott and recorded on Mode Records (New York), Wergo, Col Legno, Deutsche Gramophone, Neos, Ethos, Telos, and Einstein Records. She lives near Boston with, composer Steven Kazuo Takasugi and their son.
Gabriela Lena Frank
Identity has always been at the center of Gabriela Lena Frank’s music. Born in 1972 in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Frank explores her multicultural heritage through her compositions. Inspired by the works of Bela Bartók and Alberto Ginastera, Frank is something of a musical anthropologist. She has traveled extensively throughout South America and her pieces reflect and refract her studies of Latin American folklore, incorporating poetry, mythology, and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own. She writes challenging idiomatic parts for solo instrumentalists, vocalists, chamber ensembles, and orchestras.
Moreover, she writes, “There’s usually a story line behind my music; a scenario or character.” Even a brief glance at her titles evokes specific imagery: Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout; Cuatro Canciones Andinas; and La Llorona: Tone Poem for Viola and Orchestra. Frank’s compositions also reflect her virtuosity as a pianist — when not composing, she is a sought-after performer, specializing in contemporary repertoire.
In January 2017 the Detroit Symphony Orchestra premiered Frank’s Concerto for Orchestra, brimming with Peruvian influence. The Houston Symphony, where she has been Composer-in-Residence for three years, will premiere her new requiem, a multi-cultural work that interweaves traditional Latin and Meso-American texts with contemporary text by Pulitzer Prize-winning Cuban-American writer Nilo Cruz, in May 2017. Frank has developed several projects with Cruz, among them La Centinela y la Paloma (The Keeper and the Dove), a song cycle for Dawn Upshaw and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Journey of the Shadow for the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.
Recent premieres include Iberian Songs for Music From Angel Fire; Five Scenes for the San Diego Symphony and Malashock Dance; Cuentos Errantes: Four New Folk Songs for Piano and Strings for The Sphinx Virtuosi; My Angel, His Name is Freedom for The Library of Congress and the Handel and Haydn Society; Karnavalingo for the Houston Symphony; Will-o’-the-Wisp for piccolo player Mary Kay Fink and the Cleveland Orchestra; Saints for the Berkeley Symphony, soprano Jessica Rivera and the San Francisco Girls Chorus; and Concertino Cusqueño for the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Having collaborated with a broad range of artists, Frank’s other works include Quijotadas for the Brentano String Quartet; Jalapeño Blues for Chanticleer; Compadrazgo, a double concerto for David Finckel and Wu Han with the ProMusica Orchestra; ¡Chayraq! and Ritmos Anchinos for the Silk Road Project; and Inkarrí for the Kronos Quartet. Upcoming premieres include a flute sonata for Demarre McGill of the Dallas Symphony and a new solo violin sonata for Movses Pogossian.
Ms. Frank attended Rice University in Houston, Texas. She studied composition with Paul Cooper, Ellsworth Milburn, and Sam Jones, and piano with Jeanne Kierman Fischer. Frank credits Fischer with introducing her to the music of Ginastera, Bartók, and other composers who utilized folk elements in their work. At the University of Michigan, where she received a D.M.A. in composition in 2001, Frank studied with William Albright, William Bolcom, Leslie Bassett, and Michael Daugherty, and piano with Logan Skelton.
As a Czech musician in a Germano-centric world, Dvořák (1841–1904) struggled at first for recognition and even a living. Brahms championed him, however, and ultimatelyDvořák became an international celebrity, particularly beloved in England and the United States. He is best known today for his sweeping orchestral and characterful chamber music, rooted in the rhythms of Czech folk music, but he also composed a significant body of songs, large-scale choral pieces, and operas. (laphil.com)
National Medal of Arts, Pulitzer Prize, and Grammy Award-winner William Bolcom (b. 1938) is an American composer of chamber, operatic, vocal, choral, and symphonic music. Born in Seattle, Washington, he began composition studies at the age of 11 with George Frederick McKay and John Verrall at the University of Washington while continuing piano lessons with Madame Berthe Poncy Jacobson. He later studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College while working on his Master of Arts degree, with Leland Smith at Stanford University while working on his Doctor of Musical Arts, and with Olivier Messiaen and Milhaud at the Paris Conservatoire, where he received the 2éme Prix de Composition. He joined the faculty of the University of Michigan’s School of Music in 1973, was named the Ross Lee Finney Distinguished University Professor of Composition in 1994, and retired in 2008 after 35 years. Bolcom won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1988 for 12 New Etudes for Piano, and his setting of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience on the Naxos label won four Grammy Awards in 2005.
As a pianist Bolcom has performed and recorded his own work, frequently in collaboration with his wife and musical partner, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris. Their primary specialties in both concerts and recordings are cabaret songs, show tunes, and American popular songs of the 20th century. They have recorded 25 albums together – Autumn Leaves was released in 2015. As a composer, Bolcom has written four violin sonatas; nine symphonies; four operas (McTeague, A View from the Bridge, A Wedding, and Dinner at Eight, making its world premiere at the Minnesota Opera in March, 2017), plus several musical theater operas; eleven string quartets; two film scores (Hester Street and Illuminata); incidental music for stage plays, including Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass; fanfares and occasional pieces; and an extensive catalogue of chamber, choral, and vocal works. Bolcom’s setting of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience, a full evening’s work for soloists, choruses, and orchestra, culminated 25 years of work on the piece, Its recording on Naxos won four Grammy Awards in 2005: Best Choral Performance, Best Classical Contemporary Composition, Best Classical Album, and Producer of the Year, Classical.