EarShot: Memphis Symphony Orchestra New Music Readings

Four Emerging Composers Heard in Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s New Music Readings

May 20-21, 2009
The Clark Opera Memphis Center

Memphis Symphony Orchestra and EarShot, the newly formed National Orchestral Composition Discovery Network, presented the works of four selected composers in the Memphis Symphony Orchestra New Music Readings held on May 20 and 21, 2009, in Memphis, TN. The Readings, conducted by David Loebel, were an outstanding artistic and professional-development opportunity for emerging composers and gave the selected composers wider visibility in the field of orchestral music. The four composers were Jean Ahn, Christian Baldini, Patricio Da Silva, and Andreia Pinto-Correia.

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra was organized in 1952 and is well established as the Mid South’s largest performing arts organization. The MSO presents a 39-week season of Masterworks, Pops, and Chamber subscription concerts. Historic collaborations with other arts agencies and organizations allow the MSO to serve diverse regional audiences. Having recieved numerous ASCAP awards for adventerous programming, MSO’s mission is to create meaningful experiences through music, and its vision is to artistically engage. MSO artists are vital members of the Memphis community, providing rich musical experiences for all ages.

The Memphis Symphony New Music Readings are a part of EarShot: the nationwide network of new music readings and related composer-development programs. The goals of the program are to create the nation’s first ongoing systematic program for identifying emerging orchestral composers; to provide professional-level working experience with orchestras from every region of the country; and to increase awareness of these composers and access to their music throughout the industry. EarShot is a partnership between American Composers Orchestra, American Composers Forum, American Music Center, the League of American Orchestras, and Meet The Composer.

Jean Ahn: Salt

Jean Ahn, composerBorn in Korea, Jean Ahn began to study piano and composition at a very early age. She finished her B.A. and M.M. at Seoul National University under professor Baek Byoung Dong and received a Ph.D. in 2008 from UC Berkeley, where her teachers included Edmund Campion, Cindy Cox, David Wessel, Jorge Liederman, and Richard Felciano.

Her creative output includes works ranging from solo instruments to full orchestra, as well as choral, dance, and electroacoustic music. Recent awards for her compositions include First Prize from the Renee Fisher Award and Competition, the Korean National Music Composers Award, First Prize from the Sejong Korean Music Competition, UC Berkeley’s the De Lorenzo Prize, and the Pan Music Festival Award. Ahn’s music was featured at Aspen Music Festival (Susan and Ford Schumann Composition Fellow), June in Buffalo, the Oregon Bach Festival, Music 07, SCI conferences, IAWM Beijing Congress, the Spark Festival, the Fresno New Music Festival, University of Central Missouri New Music Festival, New York City Electronic Music Festival, IAWM Festivals, among others. Her work has been performed by Ensemble Sur Plus, pianist Lisa Moore (Bang on a Can), pianist Shannon Wettstein (Zeitgeist), Berkeley Contemporary Players and others. She is currently a Lecturer at UC.Berkeley and lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two young children.

Salt was premiered by the UC Berkeley’s University Symphony, under the baton of David Milnes in May 2008. The composer says of the piece, “Salt began its life in 2005, when I found myself driven by a chord of six notes…. In short, I experimented with all the possibilities opened up by this one chord. The idea of transforming a single chord without losing its fundamentals, combined with the sparkling image of the ornaments, reminded me of the properties of salt. Thus was born the title of the composition. Just as salt preserves its taste no matter what it is mixed with, the essence of the original chord of the piece is not lost throughout the entire work. In order to enhance the metaphor, the electronics used in the piece-built on the resonance model of the main chord with spectral transformation-employ the actual sound of dropping, spreading and touching salt. Finally, the title Salt also reflects my Christian faith and my musing on the words ‘Ye are the salt of the earth.’ Thus the piece has the touch, taste and also the meaning of salt.”

Christian Baldini: elapsing twilight shades

Christian Baldini’s work as a conductor and composer has gathered recognition in several International Competitions around the world (South Korea, USA, Brazil, Argentina-UNESCO). His music has been performed in festivals and venues throughout Europe, South America, North America and Asia by orchestras and ensembles including the Southbank Sinfonia (London), New York New Music Ensemble, Daegu Chamber Orchestra (South Korea), Orchestre National de Lorraine (France), Chronophonie Ensemble (Freiburg), the American Brass Quintet, the Barton Workshop (Amsterdam), the National Polyphonic Choir of Argentina, the New York Virtuoso Singers, the Kreisler Ensemble (London) and the Illegal Harmony Ensemble (Scotland).

Christian is currently the Music Director and Conductor of the Symphony Orchestra at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He regularly guest conducts in South America, England (Aldeburgh Festival) and the USA. Most recently he was invited by Leonard Slatkin to conduct the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington, DC). This summer he will be conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra working with Martyn Brabbins, and will be a featured composer and conductor in Edenkoben (Germany). In the Fall 2009, Christian will begin his appointment as the director of orchestras at the University of California at Davis.

elapsing twilight shades reflects my particular interest in creating sonic structures that behave in a quasi cubist fashion. In fact, listening to the piece is a bit like looking at an abstract painting. One idea is presented from several different perspectives. The “space” around the idea is manipulated, folded and viewed as if through a kaleidoscope, repeated by many different lenses. This is the starting point for a work that gradually becomes inflected by a few humorous moments and a delight in symphonic tradition. There are two main critical arrivals in the piece, where the previous music is expanded into a more rhapsodic and quite different dimension. For me these moments represent a special ideal of collective beauty, achieved only through hope and freedom.

Patrício da Silva: Three Pieces for Orchestra

Patricio da Silva

Patricio da Silva

Patrício da Silva (b. 1973) received formal musical training at the Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa where he studied piano with Jorge Moyano and composition with António Pinho Vargas (B.M. in piano, 1995). He then pursued his composition studies in the US, first as a recipient of the Betty Freeman Foundation Scholarship in Composition with Morton Subotnick, Stephen L. Mosko, and Mel Powell at the California Institute of the Arts (MFA, 1999), and later, with support from the Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento (Portugal), he completed the Ph.D. program in composition at the University of California (2003), having studied composition with William Kraft, computer music with Curtis Roads, and algorithmic composition and music with Artificial Intelligence with David Cope.

Further studies include work with Michael Gandolfi, John Harbison, Sydney Hodkinson, Augusta Read Thomas, Bernard Rands, Helmut Lachenman, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. His post-doctoral work as invited researcher at IRCAM in France was followed in the UK by a research grant for computer music by the Portuguese Foundation of Science and Technology. Awards include the International Barto Prize, the Gould Family Foundation Composers Award, the Ojai Festival Music for Tomorrow, the Otto Eckstein Family Fellowship, the Susan and Ford Schumann Fellowship, and residencies at the MacDowell Colony and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. His music has been recently heard at Tanglewood, Ojai Music Festival, Aspen, Ruhr Festival, Schleswig Holstein Music Festival, Historische Stadthalle Wuppertal, Bayer Erholungshaus, London Festival of American Music, Piano Spheres, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Zipper Hall, Cistermúsica, International Music Festival Póvoa do Varzim, Yamaha’s YASI, SCRIME, and Los Angeles Sonic Odyssey. A new CD, Hyper-Counterpointt, is scheduled for release in May of 2009.

Andreia Pinto-Correia: Acanto

Pinto-Correia_Andreia_lo_resBorn in Lisbon, Portugal, Andreia Pinto-Correia is currently pursuing a composition doctoral degree at the New England Conservatory, studying with Michael Gandolfi, after having received her Master’s degree there as student of Bob Brookmeyer. She started her musical studies in Lisbon at the Academia de Amadores de Música. Originally a performer, she dedicated herself to composition in 2002, after being unable to perform due to an accident.

Recent recognitions include a 2009 Tanglewood Music Center Fellowship, the 2009 NEC Contemporary Ensemble Composition Award, the 2008 Toru Takemitsu Award by the Japan Society, a 2008 Composers Conference Fellowship, a 2008 Orquestra do Algarve Young Composer Fellowship, a 2008 NEC Merit Award, a 2008/9 Luso-American Foundation Scholarship, and a 2008 ASCAPLUS Award, among others.

Acanto is an architectonic ornamentation inspired by the leaves of a plant native to Mediterranean humid climates (acanthus mollis). In Portuguese or Spanish language it may also be written as a canto meaning as in ‘to sing’. The idea for this piece derives from the manipulation of a simple melodic cell, an ornament that travels through the work appearing in different instruments or combination of instruments, registers, and pitch/rhythmic mutations. Thus, the three movements represent varied textural realizations of the same ornament. Sometimes I use particular features of a movement across movement boundaries, resulting in an organic use of the concept of memory and anticipation. The third and last movement, Adagio molto, is modeled after the third movement of Three Places in New England by Charles Ives. Here, the use of ornamentation is expanded to form a simple lullaby played by the vibraphone while the rest of the orchestra plays transformations, mainly textural, of my original cell.

David Loebel, conductor

David Loebel has been Music Director and Conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra for the past ten years. Prior to his appointment in Memphis, he enjoyed a decade-long association with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, serving as Associate and then Associate Principal Conductor, as well as Artistic Director of its summer festival, Classics in the Loop.

As a guest conductor, David Loebel has appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also conducted the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New Jersey, and Syracuse, the North Carolina Symphony, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kansas City Symphony, the Louisville Orchestra, Symphony Silicon Valley, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the Calgary Philharmonic, among many others.

Internationally, Maestro Loebel made his debut in Japan with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and toured Australia to great acclaim, leading the Sydney, Adelaide, Queensland, Western Australian, and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras. He has led family and educational concerts at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Operatic engagements include productions at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Opera Memphis and he has appeared at summer festivals including the Grant Park Music Festival, Eastern Music Festival, and Woodstock Mozart Festival.

Active in the training of young musicians, Maestro Loebel has been Conductor-in-Residence of the New World Symphony and Music Director of the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra. He has also conducted the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the National Repertory Orchestra, and at conservatories including The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute of Music, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Indiana University. As a mentor to conductors, he has served on the faculties of the League of American Orchestras’ Conducting Workshop, the Kennedy Center’s National Conducting Institute, and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Prior to joining the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Loebel served as Assistant and then Associate Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. A native of Cleveland, he is a graduate of Northwestern University, which in 2000 honored him with an Alumni Merit Award.

Tickets & Info

The Memphis Symphony Orchestra Readings Sessions were held at The Clark Opera Memphis Center, 6745 Wolf River Parkway in Memphis and were free and open to the public. The Wednesday, May 20 readings were held from 7:30 to 10:00 PM and the Thursday, May 21 readings were held from 1:30 to 4:00 PM.