Release (2003/03/02)

Sunday, March 2, 2003 at 3pm
Carnegie Hall

Zappa and the Emerging American Composer

Steven Sloane, conductor
David Moss, Omar Ebrahim, vocalists

DAN COLEMAN: L’alma respira (World premiere. Commissioned by the Helen F. Whitaker Fund)
HSUEH-YUNG SHEN: Autumn Fall (World premiere. Commissioned by the Helen F. Whitaker Fund)
BRIAN ROBISON: In Search of the Miraculous (World premiere. Commissioned by the Helen F. Whitaker Fund)
FRANK ZAPPA (arr. Ali N. Askin):
The Adventures of Greggery Peccary (U.S. Premiere)
G-Spot Tornado
The Dog Breath Variations/Uncle Meat (a.k.a. Dog/Meat) (NY Premiere)
Peaches en Regalia (U.S. Premiere)

Tickets are $15, $34, & $45. Call CarnegieCharge: 212-247-7800

Pre-concert discussion, moderated by ACO Artistic Director Robert Beaser, is free to all ticket holders and begins at 1:45 pm.

ACO Premieres Music of Frank Zappa, Unveils New Works by 3 Prize-Winning Composers March 2 at Carnegie Hall
World premieres by Whitaker-commissioned composers Dan Coleman, Hsueh-Yung Shen, and Brian Robison; First U.S. performances of Zappa’s The Adventures of Greggery Peccary, The Dog Breath Variations/Uncle Meat (a.k.a. Dog/Meat), and Peaches en Regalia

American Composers Orchestra brings “Zappa and the Emerging American Composer” to Carnegie Hall on Sunday, March 2, 2003 at 3pm. Even for an orchestra dedicated to the new and unusual, the concert stands out. The program features U.S. premieres by the iconoclast art-rocker/composer/social critic Frank Zappa, coupled with three world premieres by composers from around the country, selected through ACO’s annual Whitaker New Music Readings. Steven Sloane, now in his first season as music director, conducts. Omar Ebrahim and David Moss are vocal soloists in the Zappa premieres, which are arranged by Ali N. Askin.

About Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa moustacheIf ever the word “maverick” applied to a composer, Frank Zappa (1940-1993) is surely deserving of the title. An original, enigmatic figure in American music, Frank Zappa was not hemmed-in by any musical or technical barriers-except, perhaps, his own imagination. “People remember Zappa as a bad-boy rocker, but he was so much more than that,” says ACO music director Steven Sloane. “His music is intricate, eclectic and extremely virtuosic. In performing his work with ACO, I wanted both to re-evaluate Zappa’s music, and begin questioning what is-and who is-an American orchestral composer,” Sloane adds.

Zappa composed largely in a rock idiom for his group The Mothers of Invention, whose landmark first recording Freak Out! in 1966 defied all convention, and set the tone of Zappa’s varied career. The Mothers of Invention regularly included players who had classical training, and the music they performed illustrated elements of disparate music styles in music of greater complexity, both rhythmic and structural, than pop music’s fans were generally accustomed. At the same time that he was writing for his band, Zappa was also composing works that demanded other means of expression. Beginning in his teenage years, Zappa had been an admirer of Varèse, Stravinsky, and Webern. Zappa was also a pioneer in his use of studio techniques and technology.

By his final decade, due to illness, Zappa gave up touring for composition, and he wrote increasingly for the Synclavier, one of the first computerized keyboard-synthesizers.G-Spot Tornado was written for this instrument. Ali N. Askin originally assisted Frank Zappa and Ensemble Modern in 1992 for what became one of Zappa’s final public performances. Two of those arrangements are heard on this concert, along with the U.S. premieres of The Adventures of Greggery Peccary and Peaches en Regalia. Greggery’ was originally performed by Zappa’s band, and painstakingly transcribed and adapted for chamber orchestra by Askin, while ‘Peaches’ was frequently played by Zappa’s bands between 1970 and 1988.

About the Emerging Composers & World Premieres

Coupled with Zappa’s music are world premieres by three exciting compositional talents, Dan Coleman, Hsueh-Yung Shen, and Brian Robison. Each of these composers is the winner of the Whitaker Commission, an award each received after being selected from among hundreds of aspiring composers for ACO’s annual Whitaker New Music Reading Sessions. Both the reading sessions and the commission award are funded by the Helen F. Whitaker Fund, and the program has earned a reputation as an important right-of-passage for promising composers. Together these three composers represent fresh and divergent new directions for American orchestra music.

Dan Coleman’s L’alma respira (“my soul breathes”) takes its title from one of Petrarch’s ‘Sonnets to Laura’. The speaker of the poem laments the unbridgeable distance between himself and his lover, but discovers that by meditating on his loss he can recover a connection to her. Coleman is a New York native who has served as composer-in-residence for both the Seattle Chamber Music Festival (1993), and the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra (1994-1999), and as the first composer ever on the roster of Young Concert Artists. He is currently Music Alive Composer-in-Residence with the Tucson Symphony.

The title of Hsueh-Yung Shen’s Autumn Fall is a play on words, as on some levels the work is a meditation on the changing colors of leaves, which eventually all fall off at the end. The work follows a large unbroken arch, where there is a very slow build-up and a slow fade-out as the various mysteries are finally illuminated. Shen, born in 1952 near Washington, DC, received most of his musical training with Nadia Boulanger in France, between 1962 and 1966, and also studied with Darius Milhaud in 1967 at Aspen, and at Harvard University. He received his DMA in composition from Stanford University in 1980, and since 1987 he has taught theory, piano, percussion, and composition at Southwestern University, near Austin, Texas.

Brian Robison’s In Search of the Miraculous takes its title from the book in which P.D. Ouspensky attempted to record teachings of the contrarian early 20th-century guru G.I. Gurdjieff. The form of the piece is based on the enneagram-a geometric figure in one of the book’s illustrations-a figure comprising nine equidistant points along a circle, connected by various straight lines to create a figure of bilateral (rather than radial) symmetry. Robison is Assistant Professor of Music at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He completed his doctorate at Cornell University, and previously studied composition at Pennsylvania State University, where he graduated with highest distinction and at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, where he was awarded the Maurice Ravel Prize in 1991.

About the Artists
Vocalist Omar Ebrahim became a chorister at the Coventry Cathedral in 1964. His exposure to the vibrant contemporary cultural life of that place led him to study singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. [find out more…]

David Moss is one of the most innovative singers in contemporary music. He is the founder and artistic director of the Institute for Living Voice (ILV), a new workshop center hosting Master Singers from around the world. [find out more…]

About Steven Sloane, Music Director
Steven Sloane is one of the most adventurous and innovative conductors to have emerged in recent years. Through his work with orchestras, festivals, choruses, and opera companies across Europe and in America, Mr. Sloane has won acclaim for his compelling programming, theatrical flair, and impressive technique. His passion for unusual repertoire, interest in eclectic juxtapositions of music of divergent eras and styles, commitment to contemporary works, and willingness to challenge convention, have established Mr. Sloane as a bold champion of the future of concert music. [find out more…]

About ACO
Founded in 1977, American Composers Orchestra is the only orchestra in the world dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. Through its concerts at Carnegie Hall, recordings, radio broadcasts, educational programs, Whitaker New Music Readings, and commissions, ACO identifies today’s brightest emerging composers, champions prominent established composers as well as those lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting geographic, stylistic, and temporal diversity. [find out more…]

Tickets & Information:
“Zappa and the Emerging American Composer”: March 2, 2003 at 3pm in Carnegie Hall. Tickets are $15, $34, and $45 and may be purchased through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, by visiting Carnegie Hall’s website at, or at the Carnegie Hall box office on 57th Street at 7th Ave. The concert is preceded by a discussion (free to ticket-holders) with the living composers featured on the program, moderated by ACO’s Artistic Director Robert Beaser, at 1:45 p.m.

Major support of American Composers Orchestra is from Alliance Capital Management L.P., Amphion Foundation, ASCAP, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Bodman Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, BMI Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Citigroup Foundation, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Edward T. Cone Foundation, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, Jean and Louis Dreyfus Foundation, Fidelity Foundation, The Estate of Francis Goelet, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Greenwall Foundation, Henfield Foundation, Geoffrey Hughes Foundation, Christian Humann Foundation, Jephson Educational Trust, The Jerome Foundation, Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul Foundation, Koussevitzky Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, JPMorganChase, National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The New York Times Co. Foundation, the Virgil Thomson Foundation, Oakleigh L. Thorne Foundation, and The Helen F. Whitaker Fund. ACO programs are also made possible with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.