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Robert Spano Adds Fuel to ACO's Fire
Guest conductor Robert Spano (Atlanta Symphony, Aspen Music Festival) launches ACO’s new season with fuel and propulsion in abundance. Fred Lerdahl, a composer respected for his craftsmanship and depth, starts with the simplest of ideas that "spiral" into progressively more complex and diverse patterns, creating music of fantastic heat and intensity. Peter Fahey, a rising-star who won ACO’s 2012 Underwood Emerging Composer Commission, premieres a new work for orchestra and electronics inspired by Ireland’s infamous 19th-century Industrial Schools. Christopher Theofanidis, a master of color and orchestration, combines musical figurations drawn from the Balkan region and Greek Orthodox tradition in a rarity among works for soloist and orchestra—his virtuosic bassoon concerto, written for the supremely athletic soloist Martin Kuuskman. Rounding out the event, Julia Wolfe and filmmaker Bill Morrison create an alternative energy all their own, pushing a string orchestra to its limits while exploring the controversy and global implications of -- and human need for -- fossil fuels.
Peter Fahey: A Mirror to Kathleen's Face
(2013, World Premiere, ACO/Underwood Commission)
Peter Fahey was a participant in ACO's Underwood New Music Readings in 2012, and is the recipient of the Underwood Emerging Composer Commission. This evening's premiere marks Peter's first commission by a professional orchestra and his music's debut at Carnegie Hall. Originally from Ireland, Peter graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, before moving to the United States to study at Cornell University with Roberto Sierra and Steven Stucky. He was an exchange scholar at Columbia University, where he studied with Fabien Lévy, and he has taken part in the Aspen Music Festival, Darmstadt Festival, TACTUS Young Composers’ Forum Belgium, and the Wellesley Composers Conference. Peter has been fellow at The MacDowell Colony, a guest artist at Yaddo, and a resident artist at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, County Monaghan, Ireland. He is currently the Don M. Randel Teaching Fellow at Cornell University.
In addition to ACO, Peter's music has been performed by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Continuum, Ensemble Musiques Nouvelle, the Festival Chamber Orchestra (Ithaca), the iO Quartet, the Royal Northern College of Music Symphony Orchestra, and the Talea Ensemble.
Peter writes: A Mirror to Kathleen's Face for orchestra and electronics explores the idea of an institution (of state and church) as a mirror of a wider society, taking as its starting point a recording of an account by a former resident of the Industrial School system in Ireland. These schools, which began in the late 19th century, often run by the state or Church of Ireland, were created to care for "neglected, orphaned and abandoned children," but became infamous for widespread abuses that were covered-up for years. The idea of a mirror image informs the construction of the piece on various levels (the form of the piece is a huge mirror image or palindrome), and musical material is derived from an analysis of the structure of the voice in the recording.
Christopher Theofanidis has had performances by many leading orchestras from around the world, including the London Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Moscow Soloists, the National, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit Symphonies, and many others. He also served as Composer of the Year for the Pittsburgh Symphony, for which he wrote a violin concerto for Sarah Chang.
Theofanidis holds degrees from Yale, the Eastman School of Music, and the University of Houston, and has been the recipient of the International Masterprize, the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, six ASCAP Morton Gould Prizes, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Tanglewood Fellowship, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Charles Ives Fellowship. In 2007 he was nominated for a Grammy for best composition for his chorus and orchestra work, The Here and Now. His orchestral work, Rainbow Body, has been one of the most performed new orchestral works of the last ten years, having been performed by over 100 orchestras internationally.
Theofanidis has recently written a ballet for the American Ballet Theatre, a work for the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra as part of their ‘New Brandenburg’ series, and he currently has two opera commissions for the San Francisco and Houston Grand Opera companies. He has a long-standing relationship with the Atlanta Symphony which premiered and recorded his first symphony. He former faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory and the Juilliard School. He currently teaches at Yale University.
Christopher writes: I composed my bassoon concerto for my good friend Martin Kuuskmann, whom I had known since 1992 from my days as a student at Yale. Originally commissioned for the Absolute Ensemble, I wrote just a two-movement piece -- the now outer two movements of this version. In 2002 when offered the possibility of programming it again, I added the current middle movement which incorporated elements that had become part of my writing in the interim.
The opening movement starts with an introspective cadenza which then opens into a fast and restless first movement that makes use of several of the materials from the opening cadenza. The second movement is based on a kind of melodic ornamentation that one would hear in the Greek Orthodox church- fast inflections of long tones that keep the notes ‘alive’ in time. It is also a style of ornamentation that one finds throughout the Balkan region, and I think that--as it is heard here in the bassoon-- now reminds me most of Bulgarian bagpipe playing- in no small part because Martin regularly circular-breathes to play it, creating the sound of continuous breath. The third movement is based on a fast pattern of sixes in the bassoon line and a slower background harmonic progression which is eventually revealed clearly near the end of the work as the faster notes peel away.
Fred Lerdahl: Spirals
Fred Lerdahl studied at Lawrence University, Princeton, and Tanglewood. He has taught at UC/Berkeley, Harvard, and Michigan, and since 1991 he has been Fritz Reiner Professor of Music at Columbia University. Commissions have come from the Fromm Foundation, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Spoleto Festival, National Endowment for the Arts, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, Chamber Music America, and others. Among the organizations that have performed his works are the American Composers Orchestra who commissioned and premiered his Quiet Music in 1994, the New York Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Orpheus, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, eighth blackbird, Speculum Musicae, Collage, Argento, Talea, the Peabody Trio, the Juilliard Quartet, the Pro Arte Quartet, the Daedalus Quartet, Ensemble XXI, Lontano, and the Venice Biennale.
Fred has been in residence at the Marlboro Music Festival, IRCAM, the Wellesley Composers Conference, the American Academy in Rome, the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, the Yellow Barn Music Festival, the Beijing Modern Music Festival, the Etchings Festival, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Fred writes: Spirals (2006) is in two movements of equal length, the first fast and driven, the second slow and lyrical. The title refers to a formal technique of my invention, in which a short, simple idea elaborates into progressively complex and diverse patterns. Each cycle of elaboration enlarges the spiral. Shortly after the midpoint of each movement, the spiral reverses and contracts back to its point of origin while the musical ideas themselves continue to develop. This combination of symmetry and process culminates in points of great intensity. The constraints of the spiral technique allow freedom and flexibility while providing a coherence that is sometimes audible, other times only sensed. The dialectic between developing process and palindromic form, overlaid with free fantasy, creates a sonic world of both inevitability and surprise.
A cadential progression generates the first movement. In the second movement, a long, winding melody, which arises from the voice-leading patterns of the cadential progression from the opening movement, functions as a cantus firmus. Other textures accrue, but the melody is always present and controls the tonal motion as tension slowly builds and reaches a climax. A short, dissipating coda recalls the harmonies of the beginning of the first movement. The piece was commissioned and premiered by The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. The first performance took place in March 2007, Cliff Colnot conducting.
Julia Wolfe: Fuel
Drawing inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, Julia Wolfe's music brings a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them. Her music is distinguished by an intense physicality and a relentless power that pushes performers to extremes and demands attention from the audience. In the words of the Wall Street Journal, Wolfe has "long inhabited a terrain of [her] own, a place where classical forms are recharged by the repetitive patterns of minimalism and the driving energy of rock." Wolfe has written a major body of work for strings, from quartets to full orchestra, which as described by The New Yorker "combine the violent forward drive of rock music with an aura of minimalist serenity... whipping psychedelic states of mind into frenzied and ecstatic climaxes."
The influence of pop culture can be heard in many of Wolfe's works and she has collaborated with theater artist Anna Deveare Smith, architects DillerScofidio+Renfro, filmmaker Bill Morrison, Ridge Theater, director Francois Girard, Jim Findlay, and choreographer Susan Marshall among others. Her music has been heard at BAM, the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, Settembre Musica (Italy), Theatre de la Ville (Paris), Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and has been recorded on Cantaloupe, Teldec, Point/Universal, Sony Classical, and Argo/Decca. In 2009 Wolfe joined the NYU Steinhardt School composition faculty. She is co-founder of New York's music collective Bang on a Can. Her music is published by Red Poppy Music (ASCAP) and is distributed worldwide by G. Schirmer.
Julia writes: Fuel is a high octane force of moving strings. In collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison, sound and image combine to capture the necessity of fuel - transport and harbors - New York and Hamburg, Germany - large ships, creaking docks, whistling sounds, and a relentless energy. The film uses a variety of original source material shot in America and in Hamburg — a bustling international shipping hub. Like all ports, Hamburg relies on the standardized shipping container as its medium of commerce. Fuel presents these containers as a metaphor for world commerce, communication, and globalization of world markets. Fuel premiered in a harbor warehouse in Hamburg, Germany.
Click here to see a video clip of Fuel
Robert Spano , as Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, has enriched and expanded its repertoire and elevated the ensemble to new levels of international prominence. In 2012, Robert Spano became Music Director of the Aspen Music Festival and School and is also a Fellow of the Aspen Institute as part of the Harman-Eisner Artist in Residence Program.
Spano has appeared with Seattle Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony and Orchestra of St. Luke's among many others. Respected as a collaborative pianist and composer, Spano joins bass-baritone Eric Owens for three recitals in Denver, CO, Davis, CA and Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall in New York. Maestro Spano conducts the Juilliard Symphony Orchestra as well as the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in Philadelphia and at the Dresden Music Festival. Spring 2012 marks the third, and final, year of Spano's three-year residency at Emory University, a testament to Spano's communicative abilities and passion for education. In its 165-year history, Emory University has honored only seven other individuals with such expansive residencies, including the Dalai Lama, President Jimmy Carter and author Salman Rushdie.
With a discography of 16 critically-acclaimed recordings for Telarc and Deutsche Grammophon, Robert Spano has garnered six Grammy Awards. In February 2011, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Naxos created ASO Media and the label's first recording was released in April 2011.
Musical America's 2008 "Conductor of the Year," Mr. Spano is on the faculty of Oberlin Conservatory, and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, the Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University, and Oberlin.
Kuuskmann has recorded reconstructed bassoon concertos by J.S. Bach with co-soloist, renowned violist Lars Anders Tomter and the 1B1 Ensemble, and has recorded Theofanidis’ bassoon concerto with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project under Gil Rose. His solo album Nonstop and other albums are available on the ERP, Erdenklang, CCn'C and Chesky record labels. A graduate of the Yale and the Manhattan Schools of Music, Kuuskmann teaches at the Manhattan School, Cornish College of Arts in Seattle, serves as the woodwind coach of the Baltic Youth Philharmonic, and teaches regularly at the Arosa Music Academy in Switzerland.
Over the past twenty years Bill Morrison has built a filmography of more than thirty projects that have been presented in theaters, museums, galleries and concert halls worldwide. His work often makes use of rare archival footage in which forgotten film imagery is reframed as part of our collective mythology.
Morrison's films are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, The Nederlands Filmmuseum, and The Library of Congress. He is a Guggenheim fellow and has received the Alpert Award for the Arts, an NEA Creativity Grant, a Creative Capital grant, and a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. His work with Ridge Theater has been recognized with two Bessie awards and an Obie Award. For more information, visit www.billmorrisonfilm.com
Tickets & Info
ACO performs at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall Friday, October 25, 2013, at 7:30pm. Tickets are $43 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.