Release (2006/05/03)

Deborah Voigt Joins ACO
for ‘Erotic Spirits’
at Carnegie Hall May 3

Deborah Voigt joins ACO for the NY premiere of Stephen Paulus's "Erotic Spirits"On Wednesday, May 3, 2006 at 8:00pm in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, American Composers Orchestra, presented by Carnegie Hall, performs “Erotic Spirits,”its final Carnegie Hall concert of the season. Navigating the enticing waters of erotic imagination through the New York premiere of Stephen Paulus’s Erotic Spirits, ACO will enter into one of its most exciting collaborations, with the extraordinary soprano soloist Deborah Voigt. The theme of eroticism continues in two world premieres by younger composers: Derek Bermel’s Elixir and Kristin Kuster’s Myrrha, the latter featuring the ACO Singers, directed by Judith Clurman. The program also includes a New York premiere by Brian Current. ACO Music Director Steven Sloane conducts.


Stephen Paulus: Erotic Spirits (New York Premiere)

World renowned soprano Deborah Voigt joins ACO for the New York premiere of Stephen Paulus’s song cycle, Erotic Spirits, an eight-movement work for soprano and orchestra using ancient texts of love and longing taken from The Song of Songs, Sappho, Tzu Yeh and others dating from as early as the 4th century. Paulus chose these texts, whose themes center around love, lust, romance and broken hearts, in part because of their timelessness. According to Paulus, “what fascinated me was that these ancient ones want to express themselves about the topics of love, romance, loneliness, just as people do today.” The work was commissioned by the Augusta Symphony Orchestra and was written specially for Deborah Voigt. Pierre Ruhe of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the premiere, “exultant, tranquil and pastoral&ldots;”

Paulus has been hailed by The New Yorker as “a bright, fluent inventor with a ready lyric gift.” His prolific output is represented in orchestra, chorus, chamber ensembles, solo voice, keyboard and opera programs at leading institutions around the country including the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Houston Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the St. Louis Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the BBC Radio Orchestra and the Edinburgh Festival. He has also served as Composer-in-Residence for the Atlanta, Minnesota, Tucson and Annapolis orchestras. Paulus is co-founder of the American Composers Forum, a nationwide service organization for composers.

Deborah Voigt, soprano

Deborah Voigt has become the preeminent dramatic soprano of her generation, winning enthusiastic acclaim as one of today’s leading exponents of operas by Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Giuseppe Verdi and others. Increasingly, Ms. Voigt has turned her attention to American music, having dedicated her second solo CD to a collection of American songs. The New York Times says, “Ms. Voigt, clearly in her prime, is astonishing. Her sound is at once earthen and gleaming… Simply glorious.” Voigt, who has toured the world’s great opera houses, has also performed recitals and concerts with orchestras in Europe and America, including Wagner arias at the famed Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris for the opening night concert of the Orchestre National de France; as host of a special Christmas concert with the New York Philharmonic; and with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and its music director Daniel Barenboim in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Voigt achieved another career milestone when she gave her long-awaited Carnegie Hall recital debut on April 7, 2004 with Brian Zeger as her musical collaborator at the piano.

Ms. Voigt has received numerous awards, including First Prize at the Luciano Pavarotti Vocal Competition in Philadelphia, the Gold Medal in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Competition, France’s prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and was named Musical America‘s Vocalist of the Year 2003. She premiered Erotic Spirits in 2004 with the Augusta Symphony Orchestra.

Derek Bermel: Elixir (World Premiere; ACO/Betty Freeman Commission)

Derek Bermel, Music Alive Composer in ResidenceWith the world premiere ofElixir, Derek Bermel begins a three-year tenure as ACO’s Music Alive Composer-in-Residence. Bermel is active as a composer, a clarinetist, conductor, jazz and rock keyboard player and vocalist. He is music director of TONK, a Dutch-American ensemble melding poetry, music, visual arts, and dance. Bermel has been awarded many of today’s most important prizes, including the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, a Guggenheim award, a Fulbright Fellowship, and residencies at Tanglewood, Banff, Yaddo, and the Lincoln Center Directors Lab. His music has been premiered by the St. Louis and New Jersey Symphonies, as well as Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Boston Modern Orchestra Project and the Aspen Music Festival. Bermel’s relationship with ACO extends back to 1994, when he first came to the orchestra’s attention through its annual new music readings for emerging composers. Bermel had his first orchestral commission-a clarinet concert entitled Voices-premiered by ACO at Carnegie Hall in 1998.

Bermel affectionately calls Elixir “a spectral love potion” reflecting influences as varied as Charles Ives, Gesualdo, John Lennon and the Isley Brothers. True to its sprit of romance, the piece uses strings and harp as its core with wind players serenading from the balcony. Elixirwas commissioned for ACO by esteemed music patron Betty Freeman, and co-commissioned by the Westchester Philharmonic, Paul Lustig Dunkel, music director.

Kristin Kuster: Myrrha (World Premiere; ACO/Underwood Commission)

Kristin KusterKristin Kuster was commissioned to writeMyrrha as the winning participant in ACO’s 2004 Whitaker New Music Readings. The work calls on the Greek legend of Myrrha, a sordid tale of vanity, lust and incest, for its inspiration. According to the myth, Myrrha’s mother claimed that her daughter was more beautiful than the goddess Aphrodite, and as punishment for her arrogance, Aphrodite caused Myrrha to desire her father. Horrified by her emotions, Myrrha asked that she neither live nor die, and in turn the gods transformed her into a myrrh tree, the sap of which is said to be Myrrha’s tears.

Myrrha is scored for orchestra with a small choir that serves as a kind of Greek chorus to this story of lust, tragedy, and regret. Judith Clurman, directs the ACO singers.

Kristin Kuster is currently writing a piece for wind ensemble, and recently completed Iron Diamond for orchestra, Ando: wind beneath rain for clarinet and violin, and fzg drzl; ptchs fog for chamber ensemble. She is the composer-in-residence for the Vox Early Music Ensemble, and has recently has been commissioned by The Plymouth Symphony, 45th Parallel, and the PRISM Saxophone Quartet. She received her D.M.A. from the University of Michigan, where she studied with William Bolcom, Michael Daugherty, Evan Chambers, and William Albright. She is a co-founder of the Patricia C. Peterson Grants for the Humanities Fund, which supports University of Colorado graduate students in the Humanities. Dr. Kuster has taught as Visiting Assistant Professor of Composition at Denison University, Ohio, and as an Adjunct Lecturer of Composition, Theory, and Performing Arts Technology at the University of Michigan.

Judith Clurman, director, ACO Singers

Judith Clurman, serves on the faculty of The Juilliard School where she is director of choral activities and founder of the Juilliard Choral Union. In addition, she has been named artistic director of Harvard University’s Leonard Bernstein Celebration, which takes place in the fall of 2006. Ms. Clurman has served as guest conductor for the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Lincoln Center’s Great Performers and Mostly Mozart Festival, Bravo: Vail Music Festival, Virginia Symphony, Rebecca Kelly Ballet, José Limon Dance Company, and Alvin Ailey II. Her choruses have performed with major orchestras including the New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony. A strong supporter of American music, Ms. Clurman has commissioned works by award-winning composers Milton Babbitt, William Bolcom, David Diamond, Libby Larsen, Paul Moravec, Stephen Paulus, Augusta Read Thomas, and Christopher Rouse. She has received critical acclaim for her recordings with the New York Concert Singers, Divine Grandeur, The Mask, and A Season’s Promise. Ms. Clurman is a member of the Special Classifications Committee of ASCAP and a consultant at G. Schirmer Music.

Brian Current: Symphonies in Slanted Time (New York Premiere)

Brian Current’s Symphonies in Slanted Time receives its New York premiere. The title refers to the composer’s recent experiments with musical motion, which he describes as “slanted time.” For long stretches within the work, there is a continuous accelerando, as if the music were written for a metronome that is always speeding up. While some gestures accelerate into a blur and disappear (over the horizon perhaps, like a vanishing point in painting), others form at half and one-quarter tempo, keeping the whole in a state of balance that never quite speeds up into infinity; the effect is that the accelerando becomes the normal state of the music. Brian Current was selected from over 400 composers for this commission which was awarded by the Barlow Foundation at Brigham Young University. The piece earned high praise after its world premiere with the Indianapolis Symphony, where it was described as “novel, striking, noteworthy, memorable, and enduring.”

A Canadian citizen, Current has won awards in Paris, New York, Adelaide, and Vancouver. His music has been performed across North America and abroad by the Indianapolis Symphony, the Winnipeg Symphony, Warsaw National Philharmonic, Oakland Symphony, the Deagu Ensemble (Korea), the CBC Radio Orchestra, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, and the SIRIUS ensemble. Current’s music has been called “smart, well-crafted and virtuosic, balancing what’s expected with what surprises in a way that flatters a listener’s intelligence.”

Tickets & Information

ACO performs “Erotic Spirits” at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday, May 3, 2006 at 8:00 PM. Tickets are $15 – $42, and may be purchased through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, by visiting Carnegie Hall’s website at, or at the Carnegie Hall box office, 57th Street at 7th Ave. The concert is preceded by a talk (free to ticket holders) with the featured composers and ACO artistic director Robert Beaser, at 7:00 pm. on April 14 at Carnegie Hall.

Major support of American Composers Orchestra is provided by ACO Inner Circle, American Symphony Orchestra League, Amphion Foundation, Anncox Foundation, The Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, Arlington Associates, ASCAP, ASCAP Foundation, The Bagby Foundation for the Musical Arts, Bodman Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, BMI, BMI Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Citigroup Foundation, Edward T. Cone Foundation, Consolidated Edison, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, Fidelity Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, The Estate of Francis Goelet, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation, Henfield Foundation, Victor Herbert Foundation, Christian Humann Foundation, Jephson Educational Trust, John and Evelyn Kossak Foundation, Helen Sperry Lea Foundation, Neil Family Fund, The New York Community Trust, Bay and Paul Foundations, PricewaterhouseCoopers, The Rodgers Family Foundation, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, The Susan and Ford Schumann Foundation, Smith Barney, the Virgil Thomson Foundation, The Isak and Rose Weinman Foundation, Paul Underwood Charitable Trust, The Watchdog and Sonata Charitable Trust and The Helen F. Whitaker Fund. ACO programs are also made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

ACO’s emerging composers programs are made possible with the support of Paul Underwood, Jerome Foundation, The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University and with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The residency of Derek Bermel is made possible through Music Alive, a program of the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer. This national program is designed to provide orchestras with resources and tools to support their presentation of new music to the public and build support for new music within their institutions. Funding forMusic Alive is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and The Aaron Copland Fund for Music.