American Composers Orchestra


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Leon Bates. photo credit: Lisa KohlerScott Dunn. photo credit: Steve J. ShermanAlan Feinberg. photo credit: Josef AstorUrsula Oppens. photo credit: Christian Steiner

January 10, 1999

Alan Feinberg, piano

Alan Feinberg has achieved a remarkable reputation as a vanguard pianist and musician who has charted his own unique path in music. His intelligence, integrity and affinity for an unusually wide range of repertoire place him among those few artists who are able to build a bridge between music of the past and present. With repertoire that ranges from Bach to Babbitt, Clementi to Cage, and Chopin to Carter, Mr. Feinberg's creative approach to programming places contemporary music within a broad framework as part of an ongoing, living tradition.

On October 1, 1998, Mr. Feinberg performs the world premiere of the recently-discovered "Emerson" Piano Concerto by Charles Ives, with Christoph von Dohnanyi and the Cleveland Orchestra. Later on In the season, he performs it again with them on tour in Paris. Upcoming concerts also Include the Amy beach Concerto at the Chautauqua Festival, the Gershwin Second Rhapsody with the American Symphony In Avery Fisher Hall in New York, the Oscar Levant Concerto with the American Composers Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, Messiaen's "Oiseaux exotiques" with the New World Symphony and the Ravel G Major Concerto with the Syracuse Symphony.Alan Feinberg. photo credit: Josef Astor

Recent major collaborations Include a tour with the Cleveland Orchestra and Christoph von Dohnanyi, performing Shulamit Ran's "Concert Piece for Piano and Orchestra" and Brahms' Concerto No. 2 in New York, Boston, Cleveland, San Francisco and other cities. At Lincoln Center, with the American Symphony Orchestra, he performed the Leo Ornstein Piano Concerto, and has also performed the world premiere of Andrew Imbrie's Fourth Piano Concerto, and John Cage's Piano Concerto. He appeared with the New York Philharmonic performing Poulenc's Concerto for Two Pianos with Ursula Oppens; with the Los Angeles Philharmonic playing Gershwin's Concerto in F, and with Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony performing Berg's Chamber Concerto. He was chosen by John Adams to perform the piano score of "Nixon In China" featured on a PBS special of the Opera. Abroad, where he enjoys an outstanding reputation, he has performed with the London Philharmonia, BBC Scottish Symphony, BBCs musica Nova Festival, the festivals of Edinburgh, Bath, Cambridge, Geneva, and Berlin, and at Italys International Festival of Brescia and Bergamo, and the Budapest Autumn Festival.

In 1997, Alan Feinberg's received his third Grammy Award nomination for his recording of Morton Feldman's Palais di Mari and Charles Wuorinen's Capriccio, Bagatelle and Third Sonata. Mr. Feinberg's ongoing series of recordings on Decca/Argo embodies an unsurpassed artistic vision. Entitled Discover America, the discs represent years of immersion in American music and define him as an American maverick artist. The most recent release of the series is Fascinatin' Rhythm: American Syncopation which surveys the various types of rhythmic invention that revolutionized America in the early part of the century. Classical and popular works by prominent and obscure composers are juxtaposed in a sequence that documents the crossfertilization between various genres, bringing together George Gershwin, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Henry Cowell, Conlon Nancarrow, Jelly Roll Morton, James B. Johnson, Percy Grainger, Fats Waller, Artis Wodehouse, Scoff Joplin, Charles Ives, Charles Wuorinen, Willie The Lion Smith, Duke Ellington, and others.

The previous four cd's in this Decca/Argo Discover America series focus on repertory of the 19th and 20th centuries. The American Romantic, featuring the music of Amy Beach, L.M. Gottschalk and Robert Helps, was nominated for a Grammy in the same category with Alicia De Larrocha, Evgeny Kissin, and Rudolf Firkusny. The American Virtuoso features works by MacDowell, Grainger, Gottschalk, Beach and Gershwin, and The American Innovator the works of Ornstein, Griffiths, Cowell, Crawford Seeger, Nancarrow, Harbison, Babbitt, Davidovsky, Ives, Adams, Shapey, Cage and Thelonious Monk.

Among other recordings of Alan Feinberg are the Grammy-nominated Babbitt Piano Concerto (New World Records), Morton Feldman's "Piano and Orchestra" with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony, and the Amy Beach Piano Concerto with John Nelson and the New World Symphony both scheduled for release on Decca/Argo, the Ligeti Horn Trio (Bridge Records), works by Steve Reich and John Adams (EMI/Angel and Nonesuch), and the Paul Bowles Piano Concerto (Catalyst).

Mr. Feinberg has over 200 premieres to his credit, among them Mel Powell's Pulitzer Prizewinning Duplicates, as well as works by such composers as John Adams, Milton Babbitt, John Harbison, Steve Reich, and Charles Wuorinen. In 1985, he was chosen to premiere Milton Babbitt's Piano Concerto which was commissioned to celebrate the American Composers Orchestra's first season at Carnegie Hall and was written for Mr. Feinberg. He is the also the first pianist to have been invited by the Union of Soviet Composers to represent American contemporary music - an invitation which resulted in performances in both Moscow and Leningrad.

Alan Feinberg's recitals have stirred audiences from his native New York to Washington (Kennedy Center), Los Angeles, Cleveland, Chicago, Pads, Budapest and London, as well as the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Gerard Schwarz's "Music Today" and the Schoenberg Institute. His traversal of the American repertoire serves as the basis of his three-part recital series, DISCOVER AMERICA. The coalition of arts organizations which has sponsored this series includes the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Eisenhower Hall Theater at West Point, New York City's Town Hall, the University of Rhode Island and SUNY-Stonybrook.

Mr. Feinberg lives with his family in New York City. Since 1994, he has been Associate Professor of Piano at the Eastman School of Music. He is also Visiting Professor at the Juilliard School in New York City.

Ursula Oppens, piano

Ursula Oppens. photo credit: Christian SteinerUrsula Oppens has won equal acclaim as an interpreter of the established repertoire and as a champion of contemporary music. Her performances are marked by a powerful grasp of the composer's musical intentions and an equally powerful command of the keyboard.

Miss Oppens' engagements this summer include performances at the Ravinia Festival and at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. In the 1997/98 season, Ursula Oppens embarked on an unprecedented project in which she plays the complete Beethoven piano sonatas coupled with notable compositions by American composers in a series of recitals at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Columbia University's Miller Theatre in New York and at Northwestern University in Illinois. This season Miss Oppens performed concerti by Beethoven, Mozart, Ravel, MacDowell, Elliott Carter and Joan Tower with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and the American Symphony Orchestra, among others. She also played with the American, Vermeer and Mendelssohn string quartets and presented additional recitals at the National Gallery in Washington D.C., Purdue University and Brandeis University.

During the 1996/97 season, Miss Oppens returned to Carnegie Hall to perform on its distinguished Keyboard Virtuoso Series in a program of works by Beethoven, Tobias Picker and Rachmaninoff. Highlights of the program included Ursula Oppens' interpretation of Beethoven's monumental Hammerklavier Sonata and a world premiere performance of Tobias Picker's Etudes. Other engagements included performances of Lou Harrison's Piano Concerto, with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and Dennis Russell Davies at Lincoln Center in New York; Mozart Concerto K. 449 and Alvin Singleton's "BluesKonzert" with the Detroit Symphony; Mozart K. 382 and Ligeti's Piano Concerto with Mo. Davies and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, Op. 43 with the Syracuse Symphony and in Europe, Miss Oppens played the Lou Harrison Concerto with the ORF Symphony in Vienna.

Summer 1997 engagements included a recital at the Tanglewood Music Festival and performances of Brahms and Dvorak at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in New Mexico. In Europe, Miss Oppens played concerts in Germany and appeared at the Kuhmo and Aldeburgh festivals in works by Beethoven and contemporary American composers.

Additional highlights of recent and past seasons include recitals at such esteemed venues as New York's 92nd Street Y, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Town Hall and Carnegie Hall; Orchestra Hall in Chicago and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as well as the University of California at Los Angeles, Princeton and Northwestern Universities, the State University of New York at Stony Brook and Amherst and Dartmouth colleges. Miss Oppens returned to San Francisco and Chicago for duo recitals with composer/pianist Frederic Rzewski in a program of new works for duo pianists and played at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, featuring works by John Harbison.

Ursula Oppens has appeared as soloist with the leading orchestras of the U.S. including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Baltimore, Seattle, Atlanta, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Cincinnati symphonies, the American Composers Orchestra and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. With the Houston Symphony, she premiered BluesKonzert which was co-commissioned by the Houston, Kansas City and Detroit symphonies.

Miss Oppens has been heard in recital and concerto performances overseas, performing at many major European music centers, including the London Proms with the London Philharmonic; the BBC Broadcasting House in London and the piano series at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, at the Theatre des Champs-Elysées in Paris and in Stockholm, Brussels, Geneva, Bonn, Vienna and Barcelona. With the Vienna Radio Orchestra she performed the Ravel Concerto for Left Hand under the baton of Michael Gielen.

She has played at many of the world's major festivals including Tanglewood, Mostly Mozart (New York), Santa Fe, Aspen, Ojai, Bear Valley (California), New Hampshire, Edinburgh, Bonn, Stresa and Bath.

Her commitment to contemporary repertoire has led Miss Oppens to premiere and commission many compositions. In 1971, she co-founded Speculum Musicae, an ensemble dedicated to bringing contemporary music to modern audiences. Miss Oppens has premiered works by Carla Bley, Anthony Braxton, Elliott Carter, Anthony Davis, John Harbison, Julius Hemphill, BunChing Lam, Tania Leon, Witold Lutoslawski, Gyorgi Ligeti, Conlon Nancarrow, Tobias Picker, Frederick Rzewski, Alvin Singleton, Francis Thorne, Joan Tower, Lois V Vierk, Christian Wolff, Amnon Wolman and Charles Wuorinen.

Ursula Oppens' discography reflects her dedication to music of differing styles and period, both classic and contemporary, and she has received two Grammy nominations for her releases, most recently for her Music and Arts recording of American Piano Music of Our Time, a two-CD set featuring John Adams, Phrygian Gates and Elliott Carterls 'Night Fantasies as well as works by Julius Hemphill and Conlon Nancarrow. Additional recordings include Francis Thorne's Piano Concerto No. 3 on the New World Records label and an all-Beethoven disc of sonatas including the Hammerklavier. Other recordings can be heard on Angel, Arista, Bridge, Nonesuch, CBS Masterworks, CP2, CRI, Vanguard and Watt Works.

Miss Oppens has received several awards including first prize at the 1969 Busoni International Piano Competition, the 1970 Diploma d'Honore of the Accademia Chigiana, an Avery Fisher Career Grant in 1976 and the 1979 Record World Award for her recording of Rzewski's The People United will Never Be Defeated, which was re-released on CD in 1993 by Vanguard Classics and also received a Grammy nomination.

A native New Yorker, Ursula Oppens studied piano with her mother, Edith Oppens, as well as with Leonard Shure and Guido Agosti, and received her master of Music Degree at the Juilliard School, where she studied with Felix Galimir and Rosina Lhevinne. A prominent graduate of Radcliffe, where she studied English literature and economics, Miss Oppens went on to become the first woman Chief Marshal at Harvard's 1990 commencement exercises. Under the auspices of Young Concert Artists, she made her New York debut in 1969 at Carnegie Recital Hall.

Miss Oppens currently holds the position of the John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Scott Dunn, piano Scott Dunn. photo credit: Steve J. Sherman

American pianist and conductor Scott Dunn began his musical studies at age six, and was making concerto appearances with midwestern orchestras by the time he was twelve. A prize winning advocate of American music , he has appeared as soloist and collaborator in concerts and festival throughout the U. S. and Europe and has won the endorsements of such prominent contemporary composers as Elliot Carter , Ned Rorem , Sir Richard Rodney Bennett , Irwin Bazelon , Roger Reynolds , Leonard Rosenman and James Sellars . In recent times Dunn has collaborated with singers Kurt Ollmann , Joyce Castle , and Marni Nixon has recorded and performed with composer/pianist Richard Rodney Bennett ; has appeared with EOS Orchestra , the Manhattan Contemporary Ensemble , the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble and the West Coast Symphony ; has had solo broadcasts on radio WQXR in NY, KUSC in LA , as well as Iowa Public Television and has collaborated with New York dance companies of Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham touring Europe with the Graham company . He holds a Masters degree from the Manhattan School of Music , where he studied piano with legendary Byron Janis , composition with Ludmila Ulehla and earned the Cohn prize for chamber music . A winner also of the USIS's Artistic Ambassadors Competition, he was awarded a highly acclaimed seven week solo concert tour of European and former Soviet States . A true renaissance man , Dunn took a several year hiatus form public performance and completed a medical doctorate , board certification in ophthalmology, fellowship in the American College of Surgeons and even Coauthored several papers for the medical literature . His playing is available on Neuma and Albany C.D. labels.

Leon Bates, piano

Leon Bates. photo credit: Lisa KohlerOver the past twenty years, Leon Bates has emerged as one of America's leading pianists. He is invited to the most prestigious concert halls and his performances have warranted critical and audience accolades in Carnegie Hall, AliceTully Hall, Kennedy Center, Philadelphia's Academy of Music, the Hollywood Bowl and the Masonic Hall in San Francisco, presented by the Four Seasons Concert Association.

Leon Bates' work with young people is extraordinary. In one season alone he often performs over fifty residency programs in conjunction with orchestra engagements and recitals to inspire, motivate and delight America's youth as he opens their minds and hearts to the love of music.

His sheer mastery of his instrument has led to many invitations to perform with major symphonies such as the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the National Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Detroit Symphony and the Atlanta Symphony. His large repertoire includes over 30 concerti by the major composers, several contemporary concerti and he is known for his masterful performances of works by the romantics such as Rachmaninoff and his brilliant performances of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F.

He has performed all over the world, appearing with the Vienna Symphony, the Sinfonica dell' Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, the Strasbourg Symphony in France, and Canada's Victoria Symphony. Mr. Bates has been invited to appear frequently on both national and local radio and television programs; he has appeared on NBC's The TODAY SHOW and on CBS SUNDAY MORNING.

A native of Philadelphia, Leon Bates began his formal study of music at the age of six on both piano and violin and soon recognized for his musical genius and groomed for a concert career. The late Irene Beck formulated his early training at the Settlement Music School, and his advanced study was under renowned pianist Natalie Hinderas at Temple University Esther Boyer College of Music.

In addition to a full concert schedule, Mr. Bates is a master teacher and often is called upon to give master classes to promising young musicians. Known for his ability to attract audiences, he is a favorite on college campuses because of his broad interests outside of classical music. He enjoys all the performing arts including dance, theatre and all types of music. He is a sports enthusiast and disciplined bodybuilder, which he feels aids his playing ability. Recently he has begun composing, and finds great satisfaction in this aspect of music making. Mr. Bates has recorded on the Orion label, Performance Records, and Naxos.

Recently, Leon Bates performed with the symphonies of Indianapolis, Oregon, Florida, Rochester, Dallas, Hartford, Baton Rouge, Omaha, Louisville, Winston-Salem, the Orchestra of Pomeriggi Musicali di Milano in Italy, and the Malmo Symphony of Sweden. He appeared with the Battle Creek Symphony and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra in connection with the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in Michigan. He also performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and with the Italian Symphony Orchestra of Bergamo on its U.S. tour which included a concert at Carnegie Hall. In addition to recitals and residencies from coast to coast, he traveled to perform at Rome's Accademia di Santa Cecilia and in South Africa.

In subsequent seasons, he has been invited to appear with the Atlanta and Tucson Symphonies, Chicago Sinfonietta, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and Philadelphia's Orchestra 2001 and in Leipzig's Gewandhaus. A favorite at summer festivals, he has performed at the Hollywood Bowl, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, Chicago's Grant Park, the Houston Symphony, Lake Tahoe Festival and at the Mann Music Center with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Bates periodically performs on summer tour with the Boston Pops, Keith Lockwood conducting, most recently in 1998.


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