EarShot Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra New Music Readings

February 22-24, 2012
Feb. 23 at 7pm: Free & Open to  the Public.
Kleinhans Music Hall, Buffalo, NY

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Matt Kraemer

February 22 – 24, 2012, EarShot (the National Orchestral Composition Discovery Network) and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO), JoAnn Falletta, Music Director, presented the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra New Music Readings at Kleinhans Music Hall (3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo). On Thursday, February 23 at 7pm at Kleinhans Hall, the public witnessed a behind-the-scenes look at the process of bringing brand new orchestral works to life, as music by the four selected composers was read by the BPO under the baton of associate conductor, Matthew Kraemer. The composers – Stephen Gorbos, Elizabeth Lim, David Marenberg, and Daniel Schlosberg – were selected through a national call for scores, and during the Readings received feedback from mentor composers Margaret Brouwer, Sebastian Currier, and Derek Bermel, the conductor and BPO principal musicians.

Over the decades, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has matured in stature under the leadership of William Steinberg, Josef Krips, Lukas Foss, Michael Tilson Thomas, Julius Rudel, Semyon Bychkov, Maximiano Valdes, and now Music Director, Maestro Falletta. Since 1940, the Orchestra’s permanent home has been Kleinhans Music Hall, a National Historic Site with an international reputation as one of the finest concert halls in the United States. The BPO presents more than 120 Classics, Pops and Youth Concerts during a 37-week season and its award-winning education programs reach over 35,000 students per year. During the tenure of Maestro Falletta, the orchestra has rekindled a distinguished history of broadcasts and recordings, including the release of 15 CDs of a highly diverse repertoire on the NAXOS and Beau Fleuve labels. The BPO’s recording of composer John Corigliano’s Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan, featuring soprano Hila Plitmann, on the NAXOS label, won Grammys in two categories. Its concerts are heard regularly in over 200 cities across the U.S. on American Public Radio’s Performance Today. As Buffalo’s cultural ambassador, the BPO has toured widely across the United
States and Canada including a recent tour to Florida, the first multi-city tour since the 1988 European tour and the first outside of the region since Maestro Falletta led the ensemble at Carnegie Hall in 2004, its 22nd appearance there.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s 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 among American Composers Orchestra, American Composers Forum, American Music Center, the League of American Orchestras, and Meet The Composer. Through EarShot, 24 composers so far have been selected for programs with the New York Youth Symphony, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, and the Pioneer Valley Symphony (MA).

Stephen Gorbos: Bounce

Stephen Gorbos composes music that navigates a wide palette of genres and influences as diverse as American rhythm & blues, western classical music, and Javanese gamelan. He has been called “one of the bright stars of his generation of post modernists… an original, compelling and witty voice.” Gorbos’ music has been performed by Minnesota Orchestra, the New England Philharmonic, and the Cuarteto Latinamericano, and commissioned by the Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, MD. He is cofounder of Collide-O-Scope Music, an ensemble dedicated to mixed media performance, and has received awards ASCAP, Meet The Composer, the American Music Center, and Amercian Composers Forum. He has been composer-in-residence at Copland House, and a fellow at Tanglewood the Aspen Music Festival. Gorbos is assistant professor of composition and theory at the Catholic University of America. He holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, Yale School of Music, and Cornell University. His teachers include Steven Stucky, Roberto Sierra and Martin Bresnick.

According to the composer, “Bounce owes its name to the literal ‘bouncing’ of the first notes in the piece: the instruments that open the piece play an energetic tune that jumps between high and low notes. Much of what happens in the piece from that point forward is built from canonic techniques, where a copy of a melody that was just played is echoed back at a slightly later interval of time. Aside from a slow middle section, the music is overtly danceable, with an audible beat that should keep toes tapping for most of the piece. The lively and exuberant nature of the music was inspired by my nephew James, a firecracker of a little boy who, with glittering eyes, bounces around my sister’s house.”

Elizabeth Lim: Disharmony of the Spheres

Elizabeth Lim is a doctoral candidate at the Juilliard School, where she studies with Robert Beaser. According to her teacher, she possesses “…imagination which communes with the past and engages with the present.” Born in San Francisco, Lim began composing at age five. Her music has received honors from ASCAP, BMI, the Society of Composers, Inc., the National Association of Composers, USA (NACUSA), and the Society for New Music. Lim completed her undergraduate studies at Harvard University, where she was awarded the Hugh F. MacColl Prize in composition, the John Green Fellowship in composition, and named one of her class’s “Most Outstanding Seniors in the Arts.” She was a participant in the Berkeley Symphony Emerging Composers Program, the Albany Symphony’s Composer-to-Center-Stage program, Palo Alto Youth-to-Youth Commissioning Project, Bellevue Youth Symphony Orchestra Composers Competition, and the University of Nebraska’s Iron Composer Competition. Lim was named winner of the Juilliard Orchestra Composition Competition in 2009.

Since the time Lim first began composing, she has had an interest in dance music. One of her earliest compositions paid homage to Viennese waltzes, attempting to deconstruct the waltz into something of her own. Disharmony of the Spheres is a more mature take on a similar idea. Written during the fall of 2011, it borrows the traditional Scherzo and Trio form but quickly devolves into something entirely different. The “scherzo” section resembles a danse macabre, and the “trio” is ethereal and light; however the delineation between the two sections disintegrates as themes collide. This collision sets a course for chaos, redirecting the classical “harmony of the spheres” to disharmony.

David Marenberg: The Abyssal Zone

David Marenberg is a Los Angeles-born concert and multimedia composer living in New York. He studied at Amherst College, where he won the Eric Sundquist Prize for his first symphony. He recently completed his Masters Degree in Scoring for Film and Multimedia at New York University. Marenberg participated in the film scoring workshop at the Aspen Music Festival in 2010, and was recognized by the Songwriters Hall of Fame as one of the Best New Songwriters of 2011. His orchestral style infuses turn-of-the-century impressionist aesthetics with modern tropes of sound design and electroacoustic effect. His teachers include Eric Sawyer, Marc Antonio Consoli, and David Spear, who says Marenberg’s music shows, “…a mastery of many musical styles, while vibrating with infectious energy and originality.”

The composer says, “Deep down in the Abyssal Zone, 13,000 feet below the surface, a strange menagerie of marine life manages to survive the crushing ocean pressures and freezing temperatures. Shrouded in total darkness, bioluminescent creatures thrive on geothermal vents, while large-jawed anglerfish and giant squid sift through the sediment for food. On the 23rd of January, 1960, the Swiss research bathyscaphe Trieste became the first (and only) manned vessel to reach an area of the zone known as the Challenger Deep. The Abyssal Zone is a monument to explorers of the unknown, a slow descent into a region filled with beauty that defies its inhospitable landscape. Safe within the bathyscaphe, the listener EarShot & Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra New Music Readings, February 22-24, 2012 is witness to the marvelous and dangerous deep. At the same time, it pays homage to other musical explorers who took the plunge into uncharted depths. Harmonically and formally, the piece mirrors the voyage of the Trieste, descending from the familiar to the bizarre and back again. The primary theme is a scalar descent of two perfect fourths, and its contour generates most of the harmonic material of the piece. While writing The Abyssal Zone, Marenberg held to his belief that a composer’s responsibility is not simply to explore uncharted waters but to “report back” in such a way that the listener can best imagine the journey for his or herself.

Daniel Schlosberg: Grosse Concerto

Originally from Philadelphia, composer and pianist Daniel Schlosberg has had works premiered by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Encompass New Opera Theater, counter)induction, the Lorelei Ensemble, and New Triad for Collaborative Arts, and his first work for large orchestra was premiered by the Yale Symphony Orchestra in October 2010. Schlosberg has won awards from Yale, NFAA, and ASCAP. His choral piece Poor Richard’s Almanack Excerpts was performed by Singing City at the national celebration of Ben Franklin’s 300th birthday and he has appeared on From the Top, the Today Show, and in two PBS documentaries. Schlosberg is currently in his first year of a Masters degree in composition at the Yale School of Music, studying with Christopher Theofanidis, who says, “Daniel has a great talent for working with his musical material in a way that is both developmentally satisfying and still very playful.”

The composer says, “Grosse Concerto began as my personal struggle with the symphonic genre, and specifically the overwhelming body of work that is the German symphonic tradition. Given this genre’s de facto—and seemingly never-ending—status as the ‘pinnacle’ of Classical music, I felt it was important to confront it head-on. The title alludes to the Baroque form of concerto grosso and serves as a metaphor for the entire piece, which is a kind of ‘big concerto’” or concerto for orchestra. The work features a broad array of styles that waft in and out, as if having a conversation through time. I wished to explore the ways in which these seemingly disparate styles interact and form a cohesive musical narrative. A main theme in the full orchestra alternates with musical episodes played by subsections, which are embedded solos for various instruments. Each of the episodes features music echoing a past time period, such as Baroque, jazz, and modernist pointillism. This adds up to what are often very sharp contrasts—rapid shifts without any transition, like an abrupt cut between scenes in a film or a sudden change of lighting in a play.”

Matthew Kraemer, associate conductor
Matthew KraemerRecognized for his “musical sensitivity” and “energized sense of interpretation”, conductor Matthew Kraemer enters his second season as associate conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in September 2010.  In this role he appears regularly on each of the orchestra’s major series, including subscription weeks, Pops, Family, and summer concerts.  He plays a vital role in the BPO’s award-winning education and community engagement programs, in addition to assisting Music Director JoAnn Falletta during recording sessions and on tour.  Upcoming season highlights include performances of Miguel del Aguila’s The Fall of Cuzco, a fully-staged production of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, and tour performances with Idina Menzel in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Long Island, Miami, Orange County, St. Louis, and West Palm Beach.  Kraemer additionally appears this season as guest conductor with the Atlanta, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Virginia symphony orchestras.

Recipient of the distinguished Herbert von Karajan Conducting Fellowship and the Bruno Walter Career Development Grant, Mr. Kraemer served a residency with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg Music Festival during the summer of 2006.  His conducting engagements include appearances with the symphony orchestras of Akron, Asheville, Baltimore, Canton, Jacksonville, and Richmond (IN), the Reno Chamber Orchestra, and in Europe with the Vidin Philharmonic and the Orquesta de Cadaqués.  Equally at home in the ballet pit, he has led fully-staged productions with Virginia Ballet Theatre, Ohio Ballet, Neglia Ballet Artists, and Todd Rosenlieb Dance.  Mr. Kraemer has collaborated with many leading artists, including Awadagin Pratt, the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Philippe Quint, Jennifer Koh, Ben Folds, Chris Botti, Idina Menzel, and Richard Stolzman, among others. 

Prior to his appointment in Buffalo, Mr. Kraemer completed a highly successful, three-year tenure as associate conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. He has held positions with the Akron Symphony and the Akron Youth Symphony orchestras, leading the AYS into its 50th anniversary season with a performance in Carnegie Hall.  Increasingly recognized for his passionate advocacy for music education and his devotion to audience development, he has created numerous arts education programs and continues his work with young musicians as conductor, clinician and lecturer at many music festivals and in public schools. 

An Indiana native, Mr. Kraemer studied conducting in Vienna, Austria with Salvador Mas Conde and was twice a fellowship conductor at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen.  He has additionally participated in the National Arts Center Conductor’s Program in Ottawa, Canada.  His conducting teachers include David Zinman, Robert Spano, Stanley DeRusha, and Jorma Panula.  Mr. Kraemer is a graduate of Butler University and the University of Nevada, Reno, where he assisted former Cincinnati Symphony concertmaster Phillip Ruder. An accomplished violinist in his own right, he was a member of the Nightingale String Quartet.  Fluent in German and French, his principal violin teachers include Phillip Ruder, Herbert Greenberg, and Larry Shapiro.  When he is not performing, Mr. Kraemer enjoys cooking, running, and reading.  He and his wife Megan reside in Buffalo, NY.

EarShot is made possible with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.