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ACO Brings "Underground Mix"
to Philadelphia's Annenberg Center Feb. 4, 2006

Jeffrey Milarsky leads American Composers Orchestra

 

American Composers Orchestra offers the second performance of its new residency at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, February 4, 2006 at 7:30 pm, with "Underground Mix," a program of edgy new music for mixed ensemble, at the Harold Prince Theater. The program includes local premieres by an eclectic mix of today's brightest composers, including Robert Beaser, Steven Mackey, and Randall Woolf, as well as a world premiere written especially for the occasion by Japanese-American composer Hiroya Miura. The program is conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky, with "adrenaline diva" soprano Lauren Flanigan, and Daniel Druckman, percussion, as soloists.

The concert is part of ACO's Orchestra Underground initiative, created to stretch the definition of the orchestra through flexible instrumentation, diverse aesthetics, and multimedia collaborations. This particular concert, "Underground Mix," offers a range of idioms and inspirations from New Romanticism to Rock influences, and from improvisation to a multimedia work inspired by the seemingly at-odds worlds of modern dance and television infomercials.

Hiroya Miura: Wind Coils (World Premiere)

Making its world premiere at the February 4 performance is Wind Coils by Hiroya Miura. Miura was raised in Sendai, Japan, and since moving to this country, he has begun to make a name as composer, conductor, and improviser. In addition to performances of his music by the likes of Speculum Musicae and Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, he is a founding member of the electronic improvisation unit, NoOneReceiving, whose debut album From the Grain of Sound has won critical acclaim in Europe and the U.S. Miura studied composition at Columbia University under Fred Lerdahl, Jonathan Kramer, and Tristan Murail. He is on the faculty at Bates College.

Recently, Miura was artist-in-residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, where, riding his bicycle, he was impressed by the coastline, estuaries and see breezes that reminded him of Japan. One day, while pedaling hard in the sand, Miura envisioned that his pedaling was not just turning his wheels, but rotating the earth underneath. That moment became the inspiration behind Wind Coils, which was commissioned by ACO especially for this concert.

Randall Woolf: B.Y.O.D. (Philadelphia Premiere)

B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Dancer) is, what the composer has called, "an intrusion of television culture into the concert hall, and an invasion of the world of cheesy commercialism by the downtown art world." Scored for mixed ensemble, electronic soundtrack, and video projections, B.Y.O.D. offers "a smiling host, vending a beautiful dancer to our entranced home audience, while live musicians present an overly friendly and catchy, toe-tapping sound track." Writer/director Valerie Vasilevski, videographer Margaret Busch, and Dancer Heidi Latsky collaborated with Woolf to create the eccentric aural-visual world of B.Y.O.D.

Randall Woolf is a composer whose compositions combine traditional orchestral instruments, digital processing, amplified instruments, video and theatrics, creating a richly varied and genre-bending fusion of elements both ancient and futuristic. His works have been performed at the Bang on a Can Festival and Tanglewood, where he was commissioned to write White Heat, a work later performed by ACO at Carnegie Hall. Recently, he has been playing turntable on his own works, notable in a series of concerts for young people presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has collaborated with art-rock John Cale on film scores such as American Psycho by filmmakers Mary Harron and John C. Walsh. He collaborated again with Harron and Walsh in Women at an Exhibition, commissioned by the Akron Art Museum, and performed last season by ACO as part of its Orchestra Underground Series.

Steven Mackey: Micro-Concerto

Micro-Concerto by composer Steven Mackey is an energetic tour-de-force for percussion solo and five instruments. Soloist Daniel Druckman plays a combination of toys, kitchen utensils and "legit" instruments making the Micro-Concerto a gonzo piece of musical choreography. Mackey says, "The first step in writing for percussion is to invent the instrument and a playing technique. Luckily percussionists in general, and Dan Druckman in particular, tend to have an adventurous attitude about this: if they can reach it with an arm or leg, or hold it in the mouth, it is fair game. I'm fascinated by the one-man band mentality of juggling contrasting timbres produced by a gamut ranging from finely crafted instruments to kitchen utensils, and hobby shop paraphernalia."

Steven Mackey's first musical passion was playing the electric guitar in rock bands. He later discovered concert music and has composed for orchestras, chamber ensembles, dance and opera. Mackey regularly performs his own work, including two electric guitar concertos. Mackey has been honored by numerous awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, two awards from the Kennedy Center for the performing arts, and the Stoeger Prize for Chamber Music by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Mackey has been the composer in residence at numerous music festivals including Tanglewood and Aspen, and he was featured at the 2000 American Mavericks Festival and the 2003 Holland festival in Amsterdam. Among his commissions are works for the Chicago and San Francisco Symphonies, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Kronos Quartet, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the Fromm Foundation, Dawn Upshaw, Prism Saxophone Quartet, and many others. Mackey is Professor of Music at Princeton University, where he teaches composition, theory, twentieth century music, and improvisation.

Daniel Druckman, percussion

Daniel Druckman, percussionistPercussionist Daniel Druckman is active as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician, and recording artist, concertizing throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan. He has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and San Francisco Symphony. He is Associate Principal Percussionist of the New York Philharmonic, and has made guest appearances with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Da Capo Chamber Players, American Brass Quintet, the Group for Contemporary Music, Orpheus, Steve Reich and Musicians, and the Philip Glass Ensemble. Mr. Druckman has also participated in music festivals at Santa Fe, Ravinia, Saratoga, Caramoor, Bridgehampton, Tanglewood, and Aspen.

An integral part of New York's new music community, both as soloist and as a member of the New York New Music Ensemble and Speculum Musicae, Mr. Druckman has premiered works by Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, his father Jacob Druckman, Aaron Jay Kernis, Oliver Knussen, Poul Ruders, Joseph Schwantner, Ralph Shapey, and Charles Wuorinen, among many others. Recent appearances include collaborations with Fred Sherry at BargeMusic, with Dawn Upshaw at Carnegie Hall, and solo concerts at Columbia University's Miller Theatre and Merkin Concert Hall in New York. His solo recordings include Elliott Carter's Eight Pieces for Four Timpani and Reflections on the Nature of Walter by his father, on Koch International. Druckman is a faculty member of The Juilliard School.

Robert Beaser: Songs from The Occasions (Philadelphia Premiere)

Robert Beaser's Songs from The Occasions is a song cycle for voice and ensemble set to six poems of the Italian Nobel Laureate poet Eugenio Móntale. These dense, imagistic poems are at once prophetic of the impending disaster looming over Europe in the pre-World War II era and poems of love, written to a mystery woman Clizia, who fate has prematurely separated from the poet. Songs from the Occasions works at both these levels representing in its musical construction and textures, a powerful, searching voice in a world awash with turmoil and disarray. Soprano Lauren Flanigan serves as soloist in this performance.

Mr. Beaser is widely acknowledged as one of the most accomplished musicians of his generation. He studied literature, political philosophy, and music at Yale, graduating summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and earning a doctor of musical arts degree. In 1977, Beaser became the youngest composer to win the Rome Prize, and in 1986, Mountain Songs was nominated for a Grammy Award. His opera The Food of Love received an Emmy nomination for outstanding classical music/dance program. Beaser has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and Fulbright foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship, and Nonesuch and Barlow commissions. The American Academy of Arts and Letters honored him with their lifetime achievement award, writing, "His masterful orchestrations, clearcut structures, and logical musical discourse reveal a musical imagination of rare creativity and sensitivity&ldots; and put him in the forefront of his generation of composers." In addition to his role as Artistic Director of ACO, he is also chairman of the Composition Department at The Juilliard School.

Lauren Flanigan, soprano

Lauren Flanigan, sopranoLauren Flanigan has been called "the thinking man's diva" by Time Magazine. With a repertoire that extends from Bach to the present and includes more than 75 operas, Ms. Flanigan has been lavishly praised for the dynamicism she brings to contemporary music. Recently both ASCAP and the Center for Contemporary Opera honored her for her commitment to performing the works of living composers. She has appeared at most of the world's leading opera houses including the MET, New York City Opera, the Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, Glimmerglass, and La Scala. Among her recent accomplishments are collaborations with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco and New World Symphonies, performances of new works by Luciano Berio, Deborah Drattel, Lukas Foss, Milton Babbitt, William Bolcom, David del Tredici, and Alberto Ginestera.

She has worked regularly with ACO, most recently in the world premiere of Philip Glass's Symphony No. 6, "Plutonian Ode." Ms. Flanigan has a special affinity for the music of ACO's artistic director, composer Robert Beaser, having sung his opera The Food of Love at New York City Opera, and The Heavenly Feast with ACO at Carnegie Hall. This past year she received the Spirit of the City Award from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the musical life of New York City and for her ongoing work on behalf of New York's homeless.

Jeffrey Milarsky, Conductor

Jeffrey Milarsky, conductorA Philadelphia native, Jeffrey Milarsky is a leading conductor of contemporary music in New York City, with a long relationship with American Composers Orchestra. Recently, he has served as ACO's Assistant Conductor, after having been a long-time member of the percussion section.

Milarsky has premiered and recorded myriad works by composers such as Charles Wuorinen, Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Gerard Grisey, Ralph Shapey, Luigi Nono, Mario Davidovsky and Wolfgang Rihm. He has lead the New York New Music Ensemble, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Speculum Musicae, the Fromm Players at Harvard, the Composers' Ensemble at Princeton, and the New York Philharmonic chamber music series. He is Music Director of New Jersey's Musica Viva Festival, and recently joined the faculty of The Manhattan School of Music. Mr. Milarsky is also Professor in Music at Columbia University, where he is the Music Director and Conductor of the Columbia University Orchestra.

Upon graduation from the Juilliard School, Milarsky was awarded the Peter Mennin Prize for outstanding leadership and achievement in the arts. He now on the Faculty at Juilliard, where has been, until recently, Director of the Composition Forum and of the Pre-College Percussion Ensemble. He regularly conducts The Juilliard Orchestra, with whom he has premiered over 70 works of Juilliard student composers over the past fifteen years. He has recorded extensively for Angel, Teldec, Telarc, New World, CRI, MusicMasters, EMI, Koch, and London records.

Tickets & Information

ACO performs "Underground Mix" on Saturday, February 4, 2006 at 7:30 pm at the Annenberg Center for the Arts' Harold Prince Theater. The Theater is located at 3680 Walnut Street, Philadelphia. Tickets are $23 and $33 and available by telephone at 215-898-3900, or online at www.pennpresents.org

ACO's residency at the Annenberg Center is made possible by The Philadelphia Music Project, an Artistic Initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts, administered by The University of the Arts.

Major support of American Composers Orchestra is provided by American Symphony Orchestra League, Amphion Foundation, Anncox Foundation, The Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, Arlington Associates, ASCAP, The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Bodman Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, BMI, BMI Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Citigroup Foundation, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Consolidated Edison, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, Fidelity Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, The Estate of Francis Goelet, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation, Henfield Foundation, Victor Herbert Foundation, Christian Humann Foundation, Jephson Educational Trust, Jerome Foundation, John and Evelyn Kossak Foundation, Helen Sperry Lea Foundation, Meet the Composer, Neil Family Fund, The New York Community Trust, Bay and Paul Foundations, PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Rodgers Family Foundation, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Susan and Ford Schumann Foundation, Smith Barney, the Virgil Thomson Foundation, The Isak and Rose Weinman Foundation, Paul Underwood Charitable Trust, The Watchdog and Sonata Charitable Trust and The Helen F. Whitaker Fund. ACO programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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