Discover This

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Augusta Read Thomas

Posted on Updated on

Augusta Read Thomas

April 24, 1964 – Glen Cove, NY, USA

“The music of Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964 in New York) is nuanced, majestic, elegant, capricious, lyrical, and colorful — “it is boldly considered music that celebrates the sound of the instruments and reaffirms the vitality of orchestral music.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

In February 2015, music critic Edward Reichel wrote, “Augusta Read Thomas has secured for herself a permanent place in the pantheon of American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. She is without question one of the best and most important composers that this country has today. Her music has substance and depth and a sense of purpose. She has a lot to say and she knows how to say it — and say it in a way that is intelligent yet appealing and sophisticated.”

The New York Times article of March 6, 2015 states that Thomas had the distinction of having her work performed more frequently in 2013-2014 than any other living ASCAP composer, according to statistics from the performing rights organization. Former Chairperson of the American Music Center, she serves on many boards, is a generous citizen in the profession at large, and, according to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, “has become one of the most recognizable and widely loved figures in American Music.”

A Grammy winner, her impressive body of works embodies unbridled passion and fierce poetry. The New Yorker magazine called her “a true virtuoso composer.” Championed by such luminaries as Barenboim, Rostropovich, Boulez, Eschenbach, Salonen, Maazel, Ozawa, and Knussen, she rose early to the top of her profession.

An influential teacher at Eastman, Northwestern, Tanglewood, and Aspen Music Festival, she is only the 16th person to be designated University Professor at the University of Chicago (one of only seven currently holding the title). Augusta said, “Teaching is a natural extension of my creative process and of my enthusiasm for the music of others.”

Thomas was the longest-serving Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony, for Daniel Barenboim and Pierre Boulez, from 1997 through 2006. This residency culminated in the premiere of Astral Canticle, one of two finalists for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Music. During her residency, Thomas not only premiered nine commissioned orchestral works, but was also central in establishing the thriving MusicNOW series, through which she commissioned and programmed the work of many living composers.

Recent and upcoming commissions include those from the Boston Symphony, the Utah Symphony, Wigmore Hall in London, JACK quartet, Third Coast Percussion, Tanglewood, the Danish Chamber Players, Notre Dame University, and the Fromm Foundation. She won the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, among many other coveted awards. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Ms. Thomas studied composition with Oliver Knussen at Tanglewood (1986, 1987, 1989); Jacob Druckman at Yale University (1988); Alan Stout and Bill Karlins at Northwestern University (1983-1987); and at the Royal Academy of Music in London (1989). She was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University (1991-94), and a Bunting Fellow at Radcliffe College (1990-91). Thomas has also been on the Board of Directors of the American Music Center since 2000, as well as on the boards and advisory boards of several chamber music groups. She was elected Chair of the Board of the American Music Center, a volunteer position that ran from 2005 to 2008. She is University Professor (one of six University Professors) at The University of Chicago. Augusta was MUSICALIVE Composer-in-Residence with the New Haven Symphony, a national residency program of The League of American Orchestras and Meet the Composer. Augusta has been on the Board of the ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) for many years; is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Alice M. Ditson Fund; is on the Board of Trustees of The American Society for the Royal Academy of Music; is a Member of the Conseil Musical de la Foundation Prince Pierre de Monaco; and is on the Eastman School of Music’s National Council.” – augustareadthomas.com

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Chen Yi

Posted on Updated on

Chen Yi

April 4, 1953 – Guangzhou, China

“As a prolific composer who blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries, Dr. Chen Yi is the recipient of the prestigious Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001. She is the Cravens/Millsap/Missouri Distinguished Professor at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and UMKC Kauffman Award in Faculty Service (2012) and was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2005.

Born in China, Chen Yi has received bachelor and master degrees in music composition from the Central Conservatory in Beijing, and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Columbia University, New York, NY. Her composition teachers have included Wu Zu-qiang, Chou Wen-chung, Mario Davidovsky, and Alexander Goehr. She has served as Composer-in-Residence for the Women’s Philharmonic, the vocal ensemble Chanticleer, & Aptos Creative Arts Center (93-96) supported by Meet The Composer, and as a member of the composition faculty at Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University (1996–98).

Fellowships and commissioning awards have been received from Guggenheim Foundation (96), American Academy of Arts and Letters (96), Fromm Foundation at Harvard University (94), Koussevitzky Music Foundation at the Library of Congress (97), and National Endowment for the Arts in the United States (94). Honors include a first prize from the Chinese National Composition Competition (85), the Lili Boulanger Award (93), the NYU Sorel Medal Award (96), the CalArts/Alpert Award (97), the UT Eddie Medora King Composition Prize (99), the ASCAP Concert Music Award (01), the Elise Stoeger Award (02) from Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Friendship Ambassador Award from Edgar Snow Fund (02), Honorary Doctorates from Lawrence University (02), Baldwin-Wallace College (08), University of Portland (09), The New School University (10). She has been appointed by the China Ministry of Education to the prestigious Cheung Kong Scholar Visiting Professor at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music in 2006, and Thousand talents Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music (2012-2015).

Her music is published by Theodore Presser Company, performed world wide, and recorded on Bis (02, 03, 04, 11), New Albion (97), CRI (99), Teldec (97, 99 w/ Grammy Award for Colors of Love, 03, 08), Nimbus (93/00), Cala (95), Avant (98), Atma (99), Hugo (00), Angel (01), Albany (04, 05, 06, 09), Koch International Classics (04), Delos (04), Centaur (04, 05), Eroica (05), Capstone (06), Quartz (07), China Record Co. (86, 90), New World (08, 09 w/ NPR Top 10 Classical Music Album Award for Sound of the Five) and Naxos (08, 09), among many others.” – from the University of Missouri

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Judith Lang Zaimont

Posted on Updated on

Judith Lang Zaimont

November 8, 1945 – Memphis, TN, USA

“Judith Lang Zaimont’s music is internationally acclaimed for its drama and expressiveness and has been programmed around the globe by major ensembles such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore and Mississippi Symphonies, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Czech Radio Orchestra, Kremlin Chamber Orchestra, Women’s Philharmonic, Connecticut Opera, New York Virtuosi, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestras (New York and Boston), American Guild of Organists, Harlem String Quartet, International Double Reed Society, World Viola Congress, Norway’s Bergen Wind Quintet, Zagreb Saxophone Quartet and others. Her 100+ works cover almost every genre: three symphonies, chamber opera, music for wind ensemble, works for solo voice and choral ensembles, and solo instrumental and chamber pieces. Zaimont has been widely honoured through composer prizes (including the Gottschalk International Competition first prize: Gold Medal and International McCollin Competition first prize), and awards (including a Guggenheim Fellowship, 2003 Aaron Copland Award, and 2005 Bush Foundation Fellowship). Two of her works were named to Century Lists: Doubles – 1993 (oboe and piano: Chamber Music America), and Sonata – 1999 (Piano & Keyboard magazine); and her pieces have been selected as required repertoire for international performance competitions in voice, piano and conducting. Her music is widely recorded (Naxos, Koch Classical, Harmonia Mundi, MSR, Albany, Leonarda, Arkiv Music, and 4-Tay) and her principal publisher is Subito Music Corp. After a teenage career as a concert pianist, Judith Zaimont completed college and graduate study in composition (City University of New York; Columbia University), and postgraduate study in orchestration in Paris with André Jolivet (as a Debussy Fellow of the Alliance Française de New York). This led to a distinguished musical career as educator (Peabody Conservatory, CUNY, Adelphi University and the University of Minnesota) and parallel contributions as writer and editor. Her books include the three-volume Greenwood Press series, The Musical Woman: An International Perspective, and her essays on music appear online in NewMusicBox (American Music Center’s magazine) and in various professional print journals.” – from Naxos

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Tania León

Posted on Updated on

Tania León

May 14, 1943 – Havana, Cuba

“Tania León, (b. Havana, Cuba) is highly regarded as a composer and conductor and recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. She has been profiled on ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, Univision, Telemundo, and independent films.

León’s opera Scourge of Hyacinths, based on a play by Wole Soyinka with staging and design by Robert Wilson, received over 20 performances throughout Europe and Mexico. Commissioned by Hans Werner Henze and the city of Munich for the Fourth Munich Biennale, it took home the coveted BMW Prize. The aria “Oh Yemanja”(“Mother’s Prayer”) was recorded by Dawn Upshaw on her Nonesuch CD, “The World So Wide.”

Commissions include works for Ursula Oppens and the Cassatt Quartet, Nestor Torres, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New World Symphony, Koussevitzky Foundation, Fest der Kontinente (Hamburg, Germany), Cincinnati Symphony, National Endowment for the Arts, NDR Sinfonie Orchester, American Composers Orchestra, The Library of Congress, Ensemble Modern, The Los Angeles Master Chorale, and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, among others.

Her works have been performed by such orchestras as the Gewaundhausorchester, L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the China National Symphony, and the NDR Orchestra. She has collaborated with authors and directors including John Ashbury, Margaret Atwood, Rita Dove, Jamaica Kincaid, Mark Lamos, Julie Taymor, and Derek Walcott.

León has appeared as guest conductor with the Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of Marseille, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Asturias, L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Orquesta Filarmonica de Bogota, the Gewaundhausorchester, Chamber Orchestra of Geneve, Switzerland, the Guanajuato Symphony Orchestra, Mexico, Symphony Orchestra of Johannesburg, and the WaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, South Africa, as well as the Orquesta de la Comunidad y Coro de Madrid, and the New York Philharmonic, among others.

She has lectured at Harvard University and at the prestigious Mosse Lecture series at the University of Humboldt in Berlin and was the Andrew Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Scholar at the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa. León was also Visiting Professor at Yale University, Guest Composer/Conductor at the Hamburg Musikschule, Germany and the Beijing Central Conservatory, China.

A founding member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series, co-founded the Sonidos de las Américas festivals with the American Composers Orchestra, and is the founder of Composers Now festival in New York City. She also served as Latin American Advisor to the American Composers Orchestra and New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic.

León has also received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Colgate University, Oberlin, and SUNY Purchase College, and has served as U.S. Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. A Professor at Brooklyn College since 1985 and at the Graduate Center of CUNY, she was named Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York in 2006. In 2010 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Her honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Symphony Space’s Access to the Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, and the Fromm, Koussevitzky, and Guggenheim Fellowships. In 2012 she received both a Grammy nomination (for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition”) and a Latin Grammy nomination (for “Best Classical Contemporary Composition”) and in 2013 she was the recipient of the prestigious 2013 ASCAP Victor Herbert Award.” – tanialeon.com

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Missy Mazzoli

Posted on Updated on

Missy Mazzoli

October 27, 1980 – Lansdale, PA, USA

“Now an established composer on the contemporary music scene, Missy Mazzoli’s talent draws audiences equally into concert halls and rock clubs. Her unique music reflects a trend among composers of her generation who combine styles, writing music for the omnivorous audiences of the 21st century. She inhabits a gorgeous and mysterious sound-world that melds indie-rock sensibilities with formal training from Louis Andriessen, David Lang, and others. Practically speaking, she amasses music in layers not normally found together but in ways that create matchless vertical harmonies.

Recently deemed “one of the more consistently inventive, surprising composers now working in New York” by The New York Times, and “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart” by Time Out New York, her music has been performed all over the world by the Kronos Quartet, JACK Quartet, eighth blackbird, LA Opera, Roomful of Teeth, Crash Ensemble, Britten Sinfonia, Detroit Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Sydney Symphony, Opera Philadelphia, New York City Opera, pianist Emanuel Ax, cellist Maya Beiser, violinist Jennifer Koh, and many others.

Upcoming projects include the world premiere of her chamber opera Breaking the Waves, based on Lars von Trier’s 1996 film, at Opera Philadelphia in September 2016, and a production of her 2012 opera, Song from the Uproar at Chautauqua Opera in August 2016. Other recent projects include Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres) for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Vesper Sparrow for Roomful of Teeth, New New York Songs for the Young People’s Chorus of New York; Bolts of Loving Thunder for Emanuel Ax; and Quartet for Queen Mab for ETHEL.” – from Music Sales Classical

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Paula Matthusen

Posted on Updated on

Paula Matthusen

USA

“Paula Matthusen is a composer who writes both electroacoustic and acoustic music and realizes sound installations. In addition to writing for a variety of different ensembles, she also collaborates with choreographers and theater companies. She has written for diverse instrumentations, such as “run-on sentence of the pavement” for piano, ping-pong balls, and electronics, which Alex Ross of The New Yorker noted as being “entrancing”. Her work often considers discrepancies in musical space—real, imagined, and remembered.

Her music has been performed by Dither, Mantra Percussion, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, Alarm Will Sound, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), orchest de ereprijs, The Glass Farm Ensemble, the Estonian National Ballet, James Moore, Kathryn Woodard, Todd Reynolds, Kathleen Supové, Margaret Lancaster and Jody Redhage. Her work has been performed at numerous venues and festivals in America and Europe, including the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, the MusicNOW Series of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Ecstatic Music Festival, Other Minds, the MATA Festival, Merkin Concert Hall, the Aspen Music Festival, Bang on a Can Summer Institute of Music at MassMoCA, the Gaudeamus New Music Week, SEAMUS, International Computer Music Conference and Dither’s Invisible Dog Extravaganza. She performs frequently with the electroacoustic duo ouisaudei, Object Collection, and through the theater company Kinderdeutsch Projekts.

Awards include the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright Grant, two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers’ Awards, First Prize in the Young Composers’ Meeting Composition Competition, the MacCracken and Langley Ryan Fellowship, the “New Genre Prize” from the IAWM Search for New Music, and recently the 2014 Elliott Carter Rome Prize. Matthusen has also held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, create@iEar at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, STEIM, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Matthusen completed her Ph.D. at New York University – GSAS. She was Director of Music Technology at Florida International University for four years, where she founded the FLEA Laptop Ensemble. Matthusen is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Wesleyan University, where she teaches experimental music, composition, and music technology.” – paulamatthusen.com

Discover This! 5 Pieces by Eve Beglarian

Posted on Updated on

Eve Beglarian

July 22, 1958 – Ann Arbor, MI, USA

“According to the Los Angeles Times, composer and performer Eve Beglarian “is a humane, idealistic rebel and a musical sensualist.” She has been awarded the 2015 Robert Rauschenberg Prize from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts for her “innovation, risk-taking, and experimentation.”

Beglarian’s current projects include Lighten Up, an multimedia music-theater piece about visionary visual artists in America; the long-term undertaking A Book of Days, text/music/visuals, one for each day of the year; and Brim, the ensemble and repertoire she has created in response to her 2009 journey down the Mississippi River by kayak and bicycle.

Beglarian’s chamber, choral, and orchestral music has been commissioned and widely performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the American Composers Orchestra, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the California EAR Unit, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Relâche, the Paul Dresher Ensemble, Sequitur, loadbang, the Guidonian Hand, Newspeak, the Ekmeles Vocal Ensemble and individual performers including Maya Beiser, Sarah Cahill, Lauren Flanigan, Marya Martin, and Mary Rowell.

Highlights of Beglarian’s work in music theater includes music for Mabou Mines’ Obie-winning Dollhouse, Animal Magnetism, Ecco Porco,Choephorai, and Shalom Shanghai, all directed by Lee Breuer;Forgiveness, a collaboration with Chen Shi-Zheng and Noh master Akira Matsui; and the China National Beijing Opera Theater’s production of The Bacchae, also directed by Chen Shi-Zheng.

She has collaborated with choreographers including Ann Carlson, Robert LaFosse, Victoria Marks, Susan Marshall, David Neumann, Megan Williams, and Take Ueyama, and with visual and video artists including Cory Arcangel, Anne Bray, Vittoria Chierici, Barbara Hammer, Kevork Mourad, Shirin Neshat, Matt Petty, Bradley Wester, and Judson Wright.

Performance projects include Brim, Songs from a Book of Days, The Story of B, Open Secrets, Hildegurls’ Ordo Virtutum, twisted tutu, and typOpera.

Recordings of Eve’s music are available on ECM, Koch, New World,Canteloupe, Innova, Naxos, Kill Rock Stars, CDBaby, and Bandcamp.” – evbvd.com