Jazz Meets Orchestra in New Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute
Concerts July 23 & 24
What happens when jazz composers and jazz influences enter the world of the classical orchestra? Breaking boundaries with improvisation, driving rhythms, and electronic experimentation...
The Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (July 20-24), which brings together 35 jazz composers chosen from a national pool of applicants to explore the challenges of writing for the symphony orchestra, will culminate in two performances. On Friday, July 23 at 8pm, Wet Ink, conducted by Carl Bettendorf, will perform works by Leroy Jenkins, Bernhard Lang, Katharina Rosenberger, Eric Wubbels, and Richard Barrett. On Saturday, July 24 at 8pm, American Composers Orchestra, conducted by Gil Rose, with guest artists J.D. Parran and Earle Howard, will perform works by Anthony Davis, Roscoe Mitchell, Earle Brown, Errollyn Wallen, and John Zorn.
Both concerts take place at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre (116th Street and Broadway, NYC). Tickets are $25, available at www.millertheatre.com and at the door. For information, the public should call ACO at 212-977-8495.
Composer and violinist Leroy Jenkins (1932-2007), one of the major improvising violinists of his generation, also received major commissions for compositions or chamber ensemble, orchestra, dance, opera, and theater. In addition to his groundbreaking work with the Revolutionary Ensemble, the Creative Construction Company, and his own ensembles, Jenkins’s music has been performed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Albany Symphony, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the Kronos Quartet, the Dessoff Choirs, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, Munich Biennale New Music Theater Festival, the New Music Consort. His opera/ballet, Mother Of Three Sons, choreographed and directed by Bill T. Jones, received a Bessie (New York Dance and Performance Award) “for the lyrical, intricately constructed river of jazz and opera.”
Wonderlust was commissioned and premiered by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in 1998. In this work, Jenkins weaves a diverse tapestry of notated, semi-free, and improvised textures that wind their way around the ensemble. A mini concerto, the work was first presented with Leroy himself as the soloist.
Bernhard Lang is an Austrian composer of the experimental and avant-garde school, particularly advocating a style known as “repetition-perpetrator”. Since 2003 he has been associate professor of composition at Graz University. Lang’s music is characterized by repetition of short phrases. He frequently collaborates with artists from other genres including choreographers, electronic musicians, video artists and DJs. He is particularly known for the provocatively titled opera I Hate Mozart, with libretto by Michael Sturminger, composed for the Viennese Mozart year festival in 2006. Das Theater der Wiederholungen, based on the writings of the Marquis de Sade and William S. Burroughs and choreographed by Xavier Le Roy, was premiered at the Bastille. His Monadology II was given its British premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival in September 2008, broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Monadology uses a concept Lang calls “musical-cellular processing,”which Lang says is derived from Leibniz’s Monadology.
Difference / repetition 5 (DW5) is part of a series of pieces that deal with a kind of phenomenology of repetition, particularly that of differentiated repetition. This series is an examination of a possible aesthetic of loops, which result from free movement between mechanical repetitions and varied, broken and displaced scratch loops. DW5 takes on the role of a small prologue, a brief review, which predates the theatrical work, the “Theater der Wiederholungen.” The tape part was realized by scratching and looping on historical material, in this case Monteverdi’s Prologue from the opera Orfeo, which results in a further attempt at sonifying the techniques of Austrian experimental filmmaker Martin Arnold in a musical context.
Katharina Rosenberger, born in Zurich, holds a Master of Music from the Royal Academy of Music in London and graduated recently with a Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from Columbia University. Principal teachers include Tristan Murail and Michael Finnissy. Since September 2008, Katharina holds the position of Assistant Professor in Composition at the University of California, San Diego. Much of her work manifests in an interdisciplinary context and is bound to confront traditional performance practice in terms of how sound is produced, heard, and seen. She often works in a collaborative setting and links her music (for acoustic and electronic mediums) and installations with theatre, video art, and modern dance. Katharina is recipient of the Reid Hall and Camargo Foundation Fellowships for 2006-07, the 2007 Pro Helvetia composition commission, and in 2006 the “Mediaprojects Award”/Projekt Sitemapping of the Swiss Federal Agency (OFC). She has won various composition prizes in London, New York, and Switzerland. In 2005 Katharina Rosenberger was composer in residence with the Orchestre de Nîmes, Nîmes, France.
This composition finds its origin and inspiration in the interactive sound installation Room V. In this installation visitors are invited to control and manipulate the unfolding of a pre-recorded acoustic composition with their body movements. Two cameras trace their physical gestures and trigger real-time sound synthesis that initiate floating clouds of electronic sounds, a virtual re-spatialization of the instruments in space and at times, calls for a total fragmentation of the music. parcours III, even though unfolding linearly in time, inherits the aleatoric and spontaneous notion of the installation Room V by breaking up a consecutive sectional thinking of musical material. The 2010 version is scored for the original eight instruments of Room V set against electronic sounds, which were recorded ‘live’, on site, as a result of visitors’ interaction with the piece during the 2007 showing at the Festival Les Musiques, Marseille, France. In conclusion, parcours III leads the audience through the sonic labyrinth of Room V, following the traces of actual interactions with the piece.
Eric Wubbels: Euphony (2006)
Eric Wubbels (b.1980) is a New York-based composer and performer. He is executive director, pianist, and a composer member of the Wet Ink Ensemble, a New York collective devoted to creating, promoting, and organizing adventurous contemporary music. In addition, he currently holds the position of Joseph E. and Grace W. Valentine Visiting Professor of Music at Amherst College, in Massachusetts. Wubbels’s music has been presented at concerts and festivals in Europe, Asia, and the U.S., by groups such as the Wet Ink Ensemble, Kammerensemble Neue Musik–Berlin, International Contemporary Ensemble, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and The Knights. He has received commissioning grants from the American Composers Forum/Jerome Composers Commissioning Program, and the Argosy Foundation, and his music is released on Quiet Design and Carrier Records. He is currently writing a piece for solo viola and orchestra for the New York Philharmonic’s “Composers Studio” project.
Richard Barrett: Codex V (2007)
Richard Barrett studied genetics at University College London and composition with Peter Wiegold. He subsequently received guidance from Brian Ferneyhough and Hans-Joachim Hespos at the 1984 Darmstadt Summer Courses. He was a member of the composition faculty at the Darmstadt Summer School from 1986 to 1994, and taught composition at Middlesex University in London between 1989 and 1992, and electronic composition and performance at the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatory in Den Haag from 1995 to 2001. He was a DAAD Artist in Residence in Berlin 2001–02 and in 2006 was appointed Professor in the Department of Music at Brunel University. Barrett was awarded the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis at Darmstadt in 1986 and a Gaudeamusprijs in 1989. He was co-director with Roger Redgate of Ensemble Expose from its foundation in 1984 until 1993. As a performer of live electronic music, Barrett has worked since 1986 in the duo FURT with Paul Obermayer. He has also played with many improvising musicians such as George Lewis, Evan Parker, Peter van Bergen, Ute Wassermann, Mary Oliver, Michael Vatcher, and the Music in Movement Electronic Orchestra.
Carl Bettendorf, conductor
Born in Hamburg, Germany, Carl Christian Bettendorf recently completed his doctoral degree at Columbia University, where he studied with Tristan Murail. Prior to moving to New York, he completed composition studies in his home country in Munich and Karlsruhe, working with Hans-Jürgen von Bose and Wolfgang Rihm. He attended Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Summer School for Young Composers in the Orkney Islands and was a fellow at the Composers Conference at Wellesley College, MA, and the Centre Acanthes in Metz, France.
American Composers Orchestra
Anthony Davis: You Have the Right to Remain Silent
Anthony Davis is an internationally known composer of operatic, symphonic, choral, and chamber works. He is also known for his virtuoso performances both as a solo pianist and as the leader of the ensemble Episteme, a unique ensemble of musicians who are disciplined interpreters as well as provocative improvisers. In April 1993, Davis made his Broadway debut, composing the music for Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, directed by George C. Wolfe. His music is also heard in Kushner’s companion piece, Perestroika, which opened on Broadway in November 1993. As a composer, Davis is best known for his operas. X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X, which played to sold-out houses at its premiere at the New York City Opera in 1986, was the first of a new American genre: opera on a contemporary political subject.
Earl Howard, electronics
Earl Howard’s method of creating orchestrated sounds with electronics and adding live, improvisational performance creates a unique, densely layered composition. Earl has performed for enthusiastic audiences at numerous venues including Merkin Hall, the Whitney Museum, The Kitchen, The Knitting Factory, Roulette, and Carnegie Recital Hall. In 1998 Howard was the recipient of Harvard’s Fromm Foundation Commission. In the spring of 2003 Howard had a Regents Fellowship at UCSD. Howard received three New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships. In 2004 his first sound installation was commissioned for the Tiffany Collection at the Queens Museum of Art. He has also produced numerous soundtracks for some of the leading film and video artists including Nam June Paik, Mary Lucier, Rii Kanzaki, Bob Harris, and Bill Brand.He graduated from California Institute of the Arts in Music Composition in 1974.
J.D. Parran, clarinet
J.D. Parran is a multi-instrumentalist and composer, who has mastered a wide variety of woodwind instruments (from the familar tenor saxophone to the rarely heard alto clarinet, E-flat contrabass clarinet, bass saxophone and bamboo flute). He has appeared on more than 50 recordings over the last three decades, including collaborations with The Band, Anthony Braxton, Don Byron, Anthony Davis, Julius Hemphill, New Winds, Yoko Ono, Alan Silva and Stevie Wonder among many others. His latest two releases as a leader, JD Parran & Spirit Stage featuring the poetry of Shirley LeFlore and Omegathorp: Living City (co-led with Mark Deutsch) are both available on Y’All Recordings. He is also a veteran educator who lectures at City University of New York (CUNY) and teaches clarinet and saxophone at Harlem School for the Arts. In addition to his teaching and performing careers, he has been commissioned as a composer by organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Jerome Foundation and the Helen W. Buckner Foundation.
Roscoe Mitchell: Nonaah (World Premiere, new version for chamber orchestra)
is an internationally renowned musician, composer, and innovator. His role in the resurrection of long-neglected woodwind instruments of extreme register, his innovation as a solo woodwind performer, and his reassertion of the composer into what has traditionally been an improvisational form have placed him at the forefront of contemporary music for over four decades. A leader in the field of avant-garde jazz and contemporary music, Mitchell is a founding member of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and the Trio Space. He is the founder of the Creative Arts Collective of East Lansing, MI, The Roscoe Mitchell Sextet, The Roscoe Mitchell Quartet, The Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble, The Sound Ensemble, The New Chamber Ensemble, and the Note Factory. He has recorded over 98 albums and has written hundreds of compositions. His compositions range from classical to contemporary, from wild and forceful free jazz to ornate orchestral music. He is the recipient of many honors, awards and grants, including the American Music Center Letter of Distinction; highly rated in the “Down Beat” International Jazz Critics Poll for over 30 years; Madison Music Legend (Madison magazine); NAACP Image Award; the Smithsonian Institution; the National Endowment for the Arts; John Cage Award for Music; Mutable Music; Meet The Composer, Cultural Series Grant, Center for International Performance and Exhibition, Chicago, IL; ASCAP Plus Awards; and L’Institut de Recherche at Coordination Acoustique Music, Paris. He currently holds the Darius Milhaud Chair, Professor of Composition, at Mills College, Oakland, CA.
Earle Brown: Available Forms 1 (1961)
Earle Brown (1926-2002) was a major force in contemporary music and a leading composer of the American avant-garde. He was associated with the experimental composers John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Christian Wolff who, with Brown, came to be known as the New York School. His influence on the avant-garde community was philosophical as well as tangible and practical. His conducting techniques and experiments with “time notation,” improvisation, and open-form compositional structure have become part of contemporary compositional usage. Brown received many commissions, residencies, and awards, including a Guggenheim award; an honorary doctorate from the Peabody Conservatory of Music (1970) where he held the W. Alton Jones Chair of Music; and the John Cage Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, among others. Among his many residencies were those at the California Institute of the Arts, Yale University, the Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals, the American Academy in Rome, and the Basel Conservatory of Music.
Errollyn Wallen: The Girl in My Alphabet (World Premiere, new version for chamber orchestra)
Described as the “renaissance woman of contemporary British music” by The Observer, Errollyn Wallen studied in London and Cambridge. On leaving university, she performed as a keyboard player with numerous bands then ran a commercial recording studio and wrote the music and performed live as a tap-dancing hostess on a 21-episode television game show. On becoming a full-time composer she formed her own group, Ensemble X, to perform her compositions. Widely commissioned (including the Royal Opera House, BBC and Royal Ballet) she has performed internationally, and her award-winning music is featured on numerous recordings, including the Brodsky Quartet’s Moodswings and the NMC Songbook CD. Wallen’s own CDs include Meet Me at Harold Moores, The Girl in My Alphabet, and Errollyn. All three have been to outer space on Space Shuttle Atlantis mission STS -115. In 2005 she won the BBC Radio 3 Listeners/British Composer Award. Her multi-media show Jordan Town was a sell-out hit at the Edinburgh Festival as was her opera The Silent Twins at Almeida Theatre in 2007. She is published by Peters Edition. Wallen was awarded an MBE in the 2007 Queen’s Honours List for services to music.
John Zorn: For Your Eyes Only (1989)
Zorn (b. 1953) has been in touch with the creative environment of Downtown New York most of his life. He learned alchemical synthesis from Harry Smith, structural ontology from Richard Foreman, how to make art out of garbage from Jack Smith, cathartic expression at Sluggs, and hermetic intuition from Joseph Cornell, who lived just a few blocks from his parents’ home on Utopia Parkway in Queens.
Gil Rose, conductor
Gil Rose is recognized as an important conductor helping to shape the future of classical music. Critics all over the world have praised his dynamic performances and many recordings. In 1996, he founded the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), the foremost professional orchestra dedicated exclusively to performing and recording music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Under his leadership, BMOP’s unique programming and high performance standards have attracted critical acclaim and earned the orchestra eleven ASCAP awards for adventurous programming as well as the John S. Edwards Award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music. In 2007 Rose was awarded Columbia University’s prestigious Ditson Award as well as an ASCAP Concert Music award for his exemplary commitment to new American music. Since 2003 Rose has also served as Music Director of Opera Boston, a dynamic opera company in residence at the historic Cutler Majestic Theatre. During his tenure, Opera Boston has experienced exponential growth and is now acknowledged as one of the most important and innovative companies in America. He has curated the Fromm concerts at Harvard University and served as the Artistic Director of the Ditson Festival of Contemporary Music at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art.
Tickets & Info
Support for the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute is provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Fund for National Projects, the Fromm Music Foundation and with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.