Thursday, May 31, 2012

Congratulations to UB graduate composers for a remarkably productive year!

This year has been a very active and productive one for all of the members of the PhD program in music composition at the University at Buffalo. Our graduate composers have been racking up prestigious fellowships, residencies, commissions, and performances all across the globe and winning awards and receiving accolades from some of contemporary music’s most respected programs and institutions. Below is a very brief and selected summary of what some of our graduate composers have been up to this year:

Joe Lake, currently studying in Germany through a Fulbright Scholarship, has received a D.A.A.D. award for residency in Berlin for 2012-13.

Nathan Heidelberger has been named a Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival Summer Composition Program, one of the most prestigious composition programs in the U.S.

Diana Soh is in residence at IRCAM, in Paris, France, as a recipient of a rare year-long residency program, and has been selected as one of 5 composers from around the globe to be commissioned for a new work by IRCAM and to have a full year residency at IRCAM to prepare her new work. Diana also received artist-in-residence awards from Royaumont, Aix-en-Provence, and the Recontres Festival among many others.

Robert Phillips has been selected to be a participant in Harvard University’s Summer Composition Institute, and has been commissioned by Ensemble SurPlus to write a new work for their upcoming 20th anniversary concert in Freiburg, Germany.

Jacob Gotlib has been selected as one of 10 international composers to be in residence at the prestigious Wellesley's Composers Conference. His percussion quartet, Scape After Louise, won the Act Percussion First Prize and received a performance in Koln, Germany.

Megan Beugger was selected as a resident composer in the Akademie Schloss Solitude Summer Program  in August, 2011, and had her Expanse – String Quartet No. 2, performed several times in Germany throughout 2011 and 2012.

Chun Ting Pang has had a work selected for performance at the Hong Kong Contemporary Music Festival and at Musicarama. Additionally, he was selected to be the national representative for the Asian Composer's League in Tel Aviv, Israel. Chun Ting was also named as a composer participant at Royaumont, in France, for the 2012 Fall Season.

Juan Colón-Hernández, Dimitar Pentchev, Clint Haycraft, Zane Merrit, and David Rappenecker have been selected to be participants in June in Buffalo 2012, among 25 selected participants from over 80 international applications.

Matt Sargent was commissioned for an installation work, no where I’m bound, by the Hemphill Gallery, which ran March-May 2012, and went on to receive additional performances throughout the U.S.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Welcome Julia Wolfe to June in Buffalo 2012!

We at the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music are thrilled to welcome Julia Wolfe to the faculty of June in Buffalo 2012. Julia Wolfe is a prolific composer who, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, has "long inhabited a terrain of [her] own, a place where classical forms are recharged by the repetitive patterns of minimalism and the driving energy of rock." She is an original co-founder of Bang on a Can, an ambitious NYC-based music organization that plays, according to the New York Times, “a central role in fostering a new kind of audience that doesn’t concern itself with boundaries. If music is made with originality and integrity, these listeners will come.” Julia Wofe was recently nominated to be a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for her work Steel Hammer, which was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and written for the Bang On A Can All-Stars and Trio Mediaeval, and recently received its Boston premiere at the Massachusettes Institute of Technology.

Julia Wolfe
Julia Wolfe has written a major body of work for strings, from quartets to full orchestra. Her quartets, as described by the New Yorker magazine "combine the violent forward drive of rock music with an aura of minimalist serenity [using] the four instruments as a big guitar, whipping psychedelic states of mind into frenzied and ecstatic climaxes." Wolfe's Cruel Sister for string orchestra, inspired by a traditional English ballad of a love rivalry between sisters, was commissioned by the Munich Chamber Orchestra and received its US premiere at the Spoleto Festival, and was recently released (along with her other string orchestra piece, Fuel) on Cantaloupe Records. Written shortly after September 11, 2001, her string quartet concerto My Beautiful Scream, written for Kronos Quartet and the Orchestre National de France (premiered in the US at the Cabrillo Festival under the direction of Marin Alsop), was inspired by the idea of a slow motion scream.

The influence of pop culture can be heard in many of Wolfe's works, including Lick and Believing for the Bang on a Can All-Stars. Lick, based on fragments of funk, has become a manifesto for the new generation of pop-influenced composers. The raucous My Lips From Speaking for six pianos was inspired by the opening riff of the Aretha Franklin tune Think. Wolfe's Dark Full Ride is an obsessive and relentless exploration of the drum set, beginning with an extended hi-hat spotlight. In LAD, Wolfe creates a kaleidoscopic landscape for nine bagpipes.

Her most recent works include Combat Du Boxe for the Asko-Schoenberg Ensemble (using another film by De Keukeleire), a solo (with 8 pre-recorded parts) called With A Blue Dress On for violinist Monica Germino, and a new solo for percussionist Evelyn Glennie called Iron Maiden. Upcoming works include an evening-length piece for Celtic singer and the string quartet Ethel, a concerto with orchestra and the percussionist Colin Currie, and a chamber concerto for German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser.

Check out the great performance below of Julia Wolfe’s Dark Full Ride, as interpreted by longtime friends of the Center for 21st Century Music, the Talujon Percussion Ensemble.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

June in Buffalo 2012 Concert Schedule Announced!

We at the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music are excited to present the concert schedule for June in Buffalo 2012. From June 4-10, composers Robert BeaserDavid FelderFred LerdahlSteven Stucky, and Julia Wolfe will join Ensemble Interface, the Genkin Philharmonic, the New York New Music EnsembleSIGNAL, the Slee Sinfonietta, the UB Percussion Ensemble, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for a week of lectures, master classes, and concerts, featuring special guests James Baker,  Roberto FabriccianiEliot Fisk, and Brad Lubman . The incredibly active schedule for the week follows:

UB Percussion Ensemble
Monday, June 4
Lippes Concert Hall, 4:00pm
Program to include works by JiB participants Colon-Hernanadez, Kolm, Rappenecker, and Schouten

Roberto Fabbriciani, flutes
Monday, June 4
Baird Recital Hall, 7:30pm
Program to include works by Cavallone, Ferneyhough, Nono, and others

Tuesday, June 5
B1 Slee, 4:00pm
Program to include works by JiB participants Capp, Diaz Infante, Meurant, Naeff, Popeney, and White

Slee Sinfonietta/UB Percussion Ensemble
Tuesday, June 5
Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, 7:30pm
Program to include works by Felder, Wolfe, and Xenakis

New York New Music Ensemble
Wednesday , June 6
Baird Recital Hall, 4:00pm
Program to include works by JiB participants Ianni, Labadie, Merritt, Saeki, Schreibeis

Ensemble Interface
Wednesday, June 6
Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, 7:30pm
Program to include works by Andriessen, Feldman, Furrer, Lerdahl

Ensemble Interface
Thursday, June 7
Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, 4:00pm
Program to include works by JiB participants Chandler, Huffman, Kang, Kelly, Schaul, and Yildrim

New York New Music Ensemble
Thursday, June 7
Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, 7:30pm
Program to include works by Beaser, Druckman, Felder, Lerdahl, Stucky

Eliot Fisk/Genkin Philharmonic
Friday, June 8
Burchfield-Penney Art Center, 7:00pm
Program to include works by Beaser, Schoenberg, Webern, Stravinksy and others

Chamber Music
Saturday, June 9
Baird Recital Hall, 4:00pm
Program to include works by JiB participants Carrizo, Chen, Lee, and Pentchev

Saturday, June 9
Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, 7:30pm
Program to feature works by Andriessen and Wolfe

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
JoAnn Falletta, conductor

Sunday, June 10
Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, 2:30pm
Program to include works by Beaser, Felder, Lerdahl, Stucky

Additionally, our readers are invited to check out the brief video preview for June in Buffalo 2012:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fred Lerdahl at June in Buffalo 2012, "Music as Language"

Continuing through our list of Senior Faculty composers at June in Buffalo 2012 we arrive at Fred Lerdahl, who is currently a professor of Musical Composition at Columbia University, and a music theorist well-known for his writings which describe compositional systems as languages with musical grammar and syntax, particularly in the influential book, A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, co-authored with linguist Ray Jackendoff, published in 1983. As a composer, three of his pieces have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Music, including the recent Arches in 2011. A terrific summary about the relationship between Fred Lerdahl’s compositions and theoretical writings can be found at newmusicbox.

Fred Lerdahl

Fred Lerdahl, originally from Madison, Wisconsin, has been not only prolific as a composer and theorist, but also as a teacher – he has taught at UC/Berkeley, Harvard, and Michigan, and since 1991 he has been Fritz Reiner Professor of Music at Columbia University. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and among his other honors are the Koussevitzky Composition Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Classical Recording Foundation’s Composer of the Year Award. Commissions have come from the Fromm Foundation, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Spoleto Festival, National Endowment for the Arts, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, Chamber Music America, and others. Among the organizations that have performed his works are the New York Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Orpheus, the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, eighth blackbird, Speculum Musicae, Collage, Antares, the Juilliard Quartet, the Pro Arte Quartet, the Daedalus Quartet, Ensemble XXI, Lontano, and the Venice Biennale. He has been in residence at the Marlboro Music Festival, IRCAM, the Wellesley Composers Conference, the American Academy in Rome, the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, the Yellow Barn Music Festival, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. In 2001, Lerdahl authored Tonal Pitch Space, which models musical listening from the perspective of cognitive science, and in 2011, the Oxford University Press published his article, Art and the Senses.

Below you can find a video of Joanna Chao offering a beautiful performance of Lerdahl’s Three Diatonic Studies, for piano solo.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Maestro Christian Baldini on life since UB...

We recently tracked down University at Buffalo alumnus Christian Baldini and asked him to fill us in on his career since completing his doctorate in music composition here in 2009. Christian is currently on faculty at UC Davis and serves as the Music Director of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra, and keeps up a busy schedule fulfilling invitations to guest conduct with ensembles and orchestras around the world. We asked Christian about what he’s been up to since leaving UB, his main interests as a composer and a conductor, and what projects he has on the horizon.

Christian Baldini

“I was very fortunate to be offered a tenure-track position at a really wonderful university, right before I left UB. So I spent the summer traveling to two really great music festivals in Europe, the S. Magnus Festival, which is run by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and conductor Martyn Brabbins, who was for me a great mentor. And then I was off to the course that Peter Eötvös runs in Germany, where I got to work with the Ensemble Modern and I had a performance of a chamber work of mine. After that, I arrived in California, where I have been now for three years the Music Director of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra.

“I have just returned from Salzburg, where I guest conducted a concert with the Munich Radio Orchestra. Before then I was also in Spain where I took my orchestra from California on tour. We performed four concerts in Madrid, Granada, Valencia and Barcelona. It was a phenomenal experience for everyone involved, and we had the luxury of performing in some of the world's most beautiful venues. It was a great learning experience to have to adjust our performances of several works for many concert venues with completely different acoustic realities. They were all excellent, but the sound behaved differently in each of them. Our last concert was sold out (2,000 people) at the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona. I will never forget this concert.

“One of the things that I care the most about is to collaborate with living composers. I find it fundamental for the future of music that we as performers take on the responsibility of securing excellent performances of works by our contemporaries. Over the last 15 years, ever since I started conducting, I have been fortunate to collaborate closely with some excellent composers, and have conducted first performances of dozens of works. I also have a wide range of interests, and I think it is important to find a good balance between innovation and tradition. I don't consider myself a specialist in only one field, but rather a curious musician who feels equally at home conducting Brian Ferneyhough or Brahms or Sibelius. I also enjoy very much conducting opera and symphonic repertoire, as well as music for ensembles. As a composer, I feel close to a language that is never settled and secure, but rather always looking for new horizons. I believe in a constant exploration of the materials and their envelopes and vehicles. I admire composers who have developed their language up to their very last days.

“There are always projects coming up. I will be traveling to South Africa this summer to conduct three concerts with the South African National Youth Orchestra. I will also be conducting a CD recording in England with the English Chamber Orchestra. And there are a few more things in the melting pot, which are exciting and I always look forward to continue collaborations with musicians across different continents.

“UB was truly a wonderful experience for me. I had the privilege to study with a wonderful composer who is also really an extraordinary teacher. David Felder was a great mentor, and he was someone who opened my ears to many different worlds, and somebody who taught me in a very natural way to be even more self-critical. I will be always very grateful to UB for all of the opportunities that I received while I was there. I arrived as a Ph.D. composition student, and shortly afterwards I was hired as a lecturer in the Music Department, and was assigned to serve as the music director of the UB Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Contemporary Ensemble, while I was also teaching a course in conducting.  All of this made me grow a lot as a young professional, and the work that I did conducting concerts and recordings with the Slee Sinfonietta was also invaluable for me. I loved working with the faculty members, who were always very supportive. We performed together with many faculty performers, and I was also given the opportunity to conduct works by all three composers on the faculty, as well as many graduate students works. I could not think of a better place to have pursued graduate studies and to have started my career.”

Below is a video of a concert with Christian Baldini conducting the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra and giving a breathtaking performance of Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 7.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Steven Stucky comes to June in Buffalo 2012!

We at the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music are gearing up for June in Buffalo 2012 and are looking forward to having Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky on as a faculty composer. Steven Stucky is remarkably active as a composer and is having his works performed with increasingly dizzying speed. Last February, Stucky’s Silent Spring received both its world and New York premieres by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, where he currently serves as Composer of the Year, and in the upcoming September, Maestro Gustavo Dudamel will lead the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the world premiere of a recently-commissioned symphony. Later in 2012, Stucky’s Son et lumière will be performed by both the New York Philharmonic and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alan Gilbert and Leonard Slatkin respectively. We are very excited to have Steven in town for a week of master classes, lectures, workshops, and concerts, which will culminate on Sunday, June 10th, with a performance of his Jeu de timbres by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta.
Steven Stucky

Steven is ferociously busy: he is a trustee of the American Academy in Rome, a director of New Music USA, a board member of the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also active as a conductor, writer, lecturer, and teacher. In 2005, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his Second Concerto for Orchestra, which was commissioned and premiered in 2004 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The New York Times called the Second Concerto for Orchestra, “an electrifying piece: three movements that explore an orchestra’s potential in much the way Bartok’s and Lutoslawski’s concertos for orchestra do, but in ways that sound fresh and exciting. It alludes to works by other composers without losing its own focus, … stands apart from academic disputes about style and language, and strives for direct communication.”

For over 20 years, Stucky enjoyed the longest relationship on record between a composer and an American orchestra: in 1988 André Previn appointed him Composer-in-Residence of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Later, as the ensemble’s Consulting Composer for New Music, he worked closely with Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen on contemporary programming, the awarding of commissions, and programming for nontraditional audiences. He founded the orchestra’s Composer Fellowship Program for high-school-aged composers. He also hosted the New York Philharmonic’s acclaimed “Hear & Now” pre-concert programs for several seasons, introducing important works and premieres to Philharmonic audiences. His other residencies include the American Academy in Rome; Princeton University’s Composition Colloquium; James Madison University; University of South Carolina; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Eastman School of Music; and Grinnell College in the US. Internationally, they include the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia; the Swedish Collegium of Advanced Studies; the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing; the Shanghai Conservatory; and the Taipei National University of the Arts. In March of 2012, Stucky will take up a residency at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and in the 2012-13 season, he will be the Music Alive Resident Composer at the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra.

He has also written commissioned works for many of the other major American orchestras, including those of Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Florida West Coast (Sarasota), Minnesota, Philadelphia, St. Louis, St. Paul, and Washington (National); as well as for Chanticleer, the Boston Musica Viva, the Camerata Bern, the Raschèr Quartet, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Barlow Endowment, the Howard Hanson Institute of American Music, Carnegie Hall, the BBC, the Aspen Music Festival, the Singapore Symphony, the Percussive Arts Society; and for such celebrated solo artists as pianist Emanuel Ax, recorder soloist Michala Petri, guitarist Manuel Barrueco, baritone Sanford Sylvan, percussionist Evelyn Glennie, and cellist Elinor Frey.

Check out the video below of the LA Piano Quartet offering a gorgeous interpretation of Steven Stucky’s Piano Quartet.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

June in Buffalo 2012 participants announced!

We’re excited to announce this year’s June in Buffalo participants! We received 78 proposals from countries all over the world, including Turkey, Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland. Below are the 26 composers getting ready for June in Buffalo 2012:

David A. Dominique, Brandies University
David Rappenecker, University at Buffalo
Juan V. Colón-Hernández, University at Buffalo
Jonathan Kolm, University of Texas-Austin
Duncan Schouten, McGill University
Onur Yildirim, Istanbul Technical University 
Christopher Chandler, Eastman School of Music
Jason Huffman, Boston University
Nissim Schaul,  Universite de Paris
Nathan Kelly, University of Southern California
Jonghee Kang, University of Pittsburgh
Tyler Capp, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Ruben Naeff, New York University
Liza White, Northwestern University
Mark Popeney, University of Southern California
José Julio Díaz Infante, University of Louisville
Cyrus Meurant, University of Sydney
Davide Ianni, Boston University
Kenichi Saeki, University at Buffalo
Zane Merritt, University at Buffalo
Matthew Schreibeis, University of Pennsylvania
Colin Labadie, University of Alberta, Edmonton
Eun Young Lee, University of Chicago
Yeung-Ping Chen, University of California, San Diego
Dimitar Penchev, University at Buffalo
Andres Carrizo,  University of Chicago

The Genkin Philharmonic at June in Buffalo 2011
Presented by the Department of Music and The Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music, June in Buffalo, a festival and conference dedicated to composers, will take place from Monday, June 4th, to Sunday, June 10th, 2012, at the University at Buffalo. June in Buffalo offers an intensive schedule of seminars, lectures, workshops, professional presentations, participant forums and open rehearsals as well as afternoon and evening concerts open to the general public and critics. Each of the invited composers will have one of his/her pieces performed during the festival. Evening performances feature faculty composers, resident ensembles and soloists renowned internationally as interpreters of contemporary music.

Check out the details of the ensemble roster and the full concert schedule at the June in Buffalo website, as well as peruse audio samples and materials from previous June in Buffalo Festivals. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Composer Robert Beaser and Guitarist Eliot Fisk come to June in Buffalo 2012!

We at the Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music are gearing up for the upcoming June in Buffalo Festival and are excited to have Robert Beaser as a Senior Faculty Composer this year. June in Buffalo 2012 will begin on Monday, June 4th, and culminate in an exciting orchestral finale by the  Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 10th, at Lippes Concert Hall at the University at Buffalo. Sunday’s concert will feature the Guitar Concerto by Robert Beaser, with soloist Eliot Fisk, as well as works by David Felder, Fred Lerdahl, and Steven Stucky.

Robert Beaser

Robert Beaser has garnered tremendous admiration amongst a wide variety of audiences, and has been described as “one of this country’s huge composing talents, with a gift for vocal writing that is perhaps unequaled,” by The Baltimore Sun. Gramophone magazine has given his music tremendous accolades and called it, “masterly... dazzlingly colorful, fearless of gesture... beautifully fashioned and ingeniously constructed.” He has received myriads of commissions by some of today’s top ensembles and orchestras, including The New York Philharmonic, The Chicago Symphony, The Saint Louis Symphony, The American Composers Orchestra, The Baltimore Symphony, The Minnesota Orchestra, Chanticleer, and New York City Opera. Some exciting premieres in China will be coming up for Robert Beaser this month, including his Piano Concerto, and his Song of the Bells, to be performed on May 19th, and May 21st, respectively, at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing (English-language website available here).

Below is a video of Eliot Fisk offering a dynamic performance of an excerpt from the final movement of Robert Beaser’s Guitar Concerto.