HITOMI OBA: September Coming (2016, World Premiere)
ETHAN IVERSON: Concerto to Scale for piano and orchestra (2018, World Premiere, ACO Commission)
STEVE LEHMAN: Ten Threshold Studies (2018, World Premiere, ACO Commission)
T.J. ANDERSON: Bahia Bahia (1990, New York Premiere)
CLARICE ASSAD: Dreamscapes for violin and chamber orchestra (2009, New York Premiere)
ACO’s April concert at Carnegie Hall, Dreamscapes, is a global celebration of musical dreams, fusing jazz, world, and classical music. It features the world premieres of The Bad Plus founding member Ethan Iverson’s first orchestral work, Concerto to Scale with the composer as the piano soloist, and Steve Lehman’s Ten Threshold Studies, both commissioned by ACO; and the New York premieres of Clarice Assad’s Dreamscapes featuring violinist Elena Urioste, TJ Anderson’s Bahia Bahia, and Hitomi Oba’s September Coming, which was first read at the Buffalo Philharmonic EarShot Readings led by ACO after Oba’s participation in ACO’s 2015 Jazz Composers Orchestra Initiative.
Ethan Iverson is best known as a founding member and pianist of The Bad Plus, a game-changing collective with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer David King. The New York Times describes the group as, “better than anyone at melding the sensibilities of post-60’s jazz and indie rock.” With The Bad Plus, Iverson has collaborated with Joshua Redman, Bill Frisell, and the Mark Morris Dance Group and created a faithful arrangement of Stravinky’s The Rite of Spring and a radical reinvention of Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction. In 2017, Iverson composed and arranged Pepperland for the Mark Morris Dance Group and curated a major centennial celebration of Thelonious Monk at Duke University. With Mark Morris Dance Group he played Robert Schumann’s chamber music with Yo-Yo Ma; for the release of The Rest is Noise he toured with Alex Ross and performed examples of 20th-century repertoire. Iverson describes his piano concerto for ACO, Concerto to Scale, as being of, “modest dimensions but of sincere intent.”
Clarice Assad is a Brazilian-American Grammy-nominated composer, pianist, vocalist, bandleader and educator. A versatile musician of depth and imagination, she has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo, the Albany Symphony, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the New Century Chamber Orchestra, the BRAVO! Vail Music Festival and the La Jolla Music Festival, among others. Her works have been recorded by some of the most prominent names and groups in classical music today, including Yo-Yo Ma, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Eugenia Zuckerman, Chanticleer and Liang Wang. Assad is a founding member of the Chicago-based music and poetry publishing company Virtual Artists Collective and VOXPloration, an award-winning research based outreach program and workshop for children and adolescents on spontaneous music creation, composition, and improvisation. Her piece Dreamscapes for violin and chamber orchestra is based loosely on Assad’s research on the subject of rapid eye movement (REM) and lucid dreaming. The piece follows a storyline based on notes Assad made about her own dreams, and depicts her struggle to have a pleasant dreaming experience against the strong subconscious draw of negativity.
TJ Anderson was born in 1928 in Coatesville, Pennsylvania and received degrees from West Virginia State College, Penn State University, and a Ph.D. in Composition from the University of Iowa. He also holds several honorary degrees. He now lives in Atlanta, Georgia where he is devoted full time to writing music. He studied composition with George Ceiga, Philip Bezanson, Richard Hervig, and Darius Milhaud. Anderson is well known for his orchestration of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha, which premiered in Atlanta in 1972. His first opera, Soldier Boy, Soldier, is based on a libretto by Leon Forrest, and was commissioned by Indiana University. His opera Walker was commissioned by the Boston Athenaeum with a libretto by Derek Walcott and his opera Slip Knot is based on a historical paper by T.H. Breen with libretto by Yusef Komunyakaa. Anderson has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Arts, the Djerassi Foundation, the National Humanities Center (their first composer), and a scholar-in-residence at the Rockefeller Center for the Creative Arts, Bellagio, Italy. Other honors include an honorary membership in Phi Beta Kappa, a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, and a Rockefeller Center Foundation grant. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2005. His piece Bahia Bahia was written in 1990 as part of his Guggenheim Foundation fellowship and is dedicated to the Brazilian composers Alda and Jamary Oliveira. It represents impressions of popular music Anderson heard on two visits to Brazil in 1976 and 1988, and was premiered in 1998 by the North Carolina Symphony. ACO presents its New York premiere.
Described as “one of the transforming figures of early 21st century jazz,” by The Guardian and as a “creator of intricately detailed contemporary classical works,” by The New York Times, Steve Lehman is a composer, performer, educator, and scholar who works across a broad spectrum of experimental musical idioms. Lehman’s music has been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), So Percussion, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, the JACK Quartet, the PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Talea Ensemble, and by the pianist Marilyn Nonken. His recording Mise en Abîme was chosen as the No. 1 Jazz Album of 2014 by NPR Music and The Los Angeles Times. The recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award, Lehman is an alto saxophonist who has performed and recorded nationally and internationally with his own ensembles and with those led by Anthony Braxton, Vijay Iyer, George Lewis, Jason Moran, Georgia-Anne Muldrow, Meshell Ndegeocello, and High Priest of Anti-Pop Consortium, among many others. He describes his new piece for ACO, Ten Threshold Studies, as, “making use of elastic rhythms and shadowy spectral harmonies to explore the nature of hearing and perception in modern day music.”
Saxophonist and composer Hitomi Oba completed her master’s degree at the University of California, Los Angeles in Music Composition after receiving her bachelor’s degree in Ethnomusicology/Jazz Studies. Her projects include a sixteen-piece jazz orchestra called Jazz Nexus and an electro-acoustic pop duo, Nova. Her second jazz album, Negai, received a prestigious Swing Journal 42nd Annual Jazz Disc Award. Her commissions include works for the Los Angeles Asian American Jazz Festival, Kenny Burrell’s Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra Unlimited, the Jon Jangtet, and the Indian classical/jazz collaborative Aditya Prakash Ensemble. Oba is one of the co-founders of the new music collective LA Signal Lab, premiering and recording stylistically diverse new music with a focus on integrating improvised and pre-composed music. She teaches jazz saxophone and music theory at UCLA. Her piece, September Coming, explores ways to express the momentum and gestures of improvisational language through the orchestra, using orchestration to further enhance the spirit of improvised material. The concepts explored in the piece were inspired by the workshops, discussions, and music from the 2015 ACO Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute Intensive. The first version of September Coming was read at the 2016 Buffalo Philharmonic Readings, conducted by Stefan Sanders, made possible by ACO and Earshot.
Photo of Ethan Iverson: Jimmy Katz