ACO opens season with Orchestra Underground:
October 15, 2010
ACO presents Orchestra Underground: Mystics and Magic on Friday, October 15, 2010 at 7:30pm at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. The evening focuses on composers whose music channels the mysteries of the natural world – the spiritual, the divine, and the unseen. Two of the works are world premieres commissioned by ACO: John Luther Adams' The Light Within for orchestra with new, immersive lighting design by Ji-youn Chang, inspired by James Turrell’s “skyspace” installation at P.S. 1; and Wang Jie's From the Other Sky, a multimedia concert opera based on the composer’s own invented myth about the Chinese Zodiac, commissioned by ACO as part of its Underwood Composers Readings for emerging composers. In addition, Mystics and Magic includes the New York premieres of Claude Vivier's otherworldly Lonely Child with soprano soloist Susan Narucki, and of Brooklyn-born Alvin Singleton's jazz and modernism-influenced BluesKonzert featuring piano soloist Ursula Oppens in an ACO homecoming (she was a founding member of the orchestra). American master Jacob Druckman's Nor Spell Nor Charm, based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, completes the program.
John Luther Adams (b. 1953), described as “one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century” by Alex Ross in The New Yorker, has orchestrated The Light Within for ACO. For two decades, Adams has composed in a 16-by-24 foot cabin outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. The vastness of that landscape and the natural world undoubtedly influence his music. As Kyle Gann writes, it is “beautiful, shimmering, vast, luminous, ecstatic.” Adams says The Light Within was inspired by his own “epiphany of light,” which he experienced sitting inside James Turrell’s P.S. 1 installation. “I was transfixed by the magical interplay of light and color . . . light becoming color, becoming substance,” he said. Adams is the recipient of the 2010 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University, and in 2011 he will be Fromm Visiting Professor of Composition at Harvard. His next album, Four Thousand Holes, will be released by Cold Blue Music in fall 2010. This winter, Adams’ work Inuksuit for nine to 99 percussionists will be performed at the Armory on Park in New York. .
Jacob Druckman (1928-1996) won the Pulitzer Prize for the first work he wrote for large orchestra in 1972. His Nor Spell Nor Charm, from 1990, is an elaboration on a song he composed for DeGaetani in 1989; the title is taken from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The work bears Druckman’s signature colorful and dramatic orchestration. Among Druckman’s other honors were a Fulbright Grant, and two Guggenheim Grants. During his lifetime, he taught at The Juilliard School, Bard College, Tanglewood, Brooklyn College, and Yale.
Wang Jie (b. 1980) is the winner of ACO’s 2009 Underwood New Music Readings Commission for emerging composers. Her work, From the Other Sky, is a multimedia concert opera with projected visuals for two singers (sopranos Emily Hindrichs and Kristy Swann), actor (Hugh Sinclair, who will also direct), and orchestra, with Wang Jie as keyboard and piano soloist. The piece is based on Wang Jie’s own short story, which tells the tale of how the Chinese Zodiac animals lost their 13th member – a musical lark. Composer John Corigliano has said of Wang Jie’s music, “She knows how to take a few notes and spin them into a large form – a rare trait in today’s composers.” Born in Shanghai shortly after the Cultural Revolution, Wang Jie was raised during an era of breathtaking economic expansion. She was a piano prodigy by age five, and a scholarship from the Manhattan School of Music brought her to the U.S..
Alvin Singleton’s (b. 1940) work BluesKonzert, for piano soloist and orchestra, receives its New York premiere on this concert. The piece is written for Ursula Oppens and dedicated to the memory of Singleton’s colleague and Oppen’s husband, avant-jazz composer and saxophonist Julius Hemphill, who died in 1995. Like much of Singleton’s music, BluesKonzert unites the worlds of jazz and European modernism. Singleton served as Music Alive Composer in Residence for ACO’s Improvise! festival, and is an artist-faculty member of the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute co-presented by ACO and the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University. A Brooklyn native, he has been both a Fulbright Scholar and a Guggenheim Fellow.
Pianist Ursula Oppens, a founding member of ACO in 1977, is one of the first artists to grasp the importance of programming traditional and contemporary works in equal measure. Her sterling musicianship, uncanny understanding of the composer’s artistic argument, and lifelong study of the keyboard’s resources, have placed her among the elect of performing musicians. In 2008, Ms. Oppens celebrated the 100th birthday of her friend and colleague Elliott Carter, with critically acclaimed performances of his complete works for solo piano
Canadian composer Claude Vivier (1948-1983) was the victim of a shocking murder at age 34. He left behind some 49 compositions in a wide range of genres, including opera, orchestral, and chamber pieces. Vivier studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen in Cologne, but credited a life-changing trip to Bali in 1976 with crystallizing his musical style and attitude toward the artist’s role in society. Lonely Child, for voice and ensemble, was written after this trip. Music critic Paul Griffiths observed, “The harmonic auras are suddenly more complex, and the fantastic orchestration is unlike anything in Vivier’s earlier music, or anyone else’s.”
Soprano Susan Narucki is a frequent soloist with major orchestras and contemporary music ensembles around the globe. She earned Grammy and Cannes awards for her recordings of works by George Crumb on Bridge Records. Her extensive discography includes operas of Louis Andriessen on Nonesuch and the Netherlands Opera production of Claude Vivier’s Rêves D’un Marco Polo on Opus Arte DVD. Her most recent release of songs of Charles Ives with pianist Donald Berman on New World was an Editor’s Choice in BBC Music Magazine.
George Manahanhas had an unusually wide-ranging career, embracing everything from opera to the concert stage, the traditional to the contemporary. His most recent appearance with ACO was in May 2010 during the 19th Annual Underwood New Music Readings at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. In February 2009 at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, Manahan led a concert of world premieres, which included the much-praised multimedia works BREAKDOWN! by Margaret Brouwer and Kasumi, Rand Steiger’s Cryosphere, and Fang Man’s Resurrection. In 2006, he workshopped and led performances of music by emerging composers Anna Clyne, Fang Man, Robert Gates, and Paul Richards during ACO’s Underwood New Music Readings. In addition to his work with ACO, in fall 2010, he furthers his commitment to working with young musicians by joining the Manhattan School of Music faculty as Director of Orchestral Studies.
Manahan has been Music Director at New York City Opera for twelve seasons. There he helped envision the organization’s groundbreaking VOX program, a series of workshops and readings that have provided unique opportunities for numerous composers to hear their new concepts realized, and introduced audiences to exciting new compositional voices. In addition to established composers such as Mark Adamo, David Del Tredici, Lewis Spratlan, Robert X. Rodriguez, Lou Harrison, Bernard Rands, and Richard Danielpour, through VOX Manahan has introduced works by composers on the rise including Adam Silverman, Elodie Lauten, Mason Bates, and David Little.
George Manahan’s wide-ranging recording activities include the premiere recording of Steve Reich’s Tehillim for ECM; recordings of Edward Thomas’s Desire Under the Elms, which was nominated for a Grammy; Joe Jackson’s Will Power; and Tobias Picker’s Emmeline. His enthusiasm for contemporary music continues today; he has conducted numerous world premieres, including Charles Wuorinen’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories, David Lang’s Modern Painters, and the New York premiere of Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner. As music director of the Richmond Symphony (VA) for twelve years, he was honored four times by the American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) for his commitment to 20th century music.
Tickets & Info
ACO performs at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall Friday, October 15, 2010, at 7:30pm. Tickets are $40 and $50, and may be purchased through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, by visiting Carnegie Hall's website at www.carnegiehall.org, or at the Carnegie Hall box office, 57th Street at 7th Ave.