David Del Tredici: Framing Instinct

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“Del Tredici is that rare find among composers — a creator with a truly original gift. I venture to say that his music is certain to make a lasting impression on the American musical scene.” —AARON COPLAND

luckyCopland’s words proved to be prophetic, if not somewhat of an understatement considering Del Tredici’s secure place in the pantheon of great American composers. As one of the first successful Neo-Romantic Americans of the 20th century, the breadth of Del Tredici’s influence on his peers as well as subsequent generations is difficult to measure.

From his earliest settings of James Joyce, to his thirteen Alice in Wonderland works, and his current efforts to create an overt and deliberate canon of music on gay subjects, Del Tredici has always followed his own instincts with skill and conviction.

Del Tredici’s influence extends far beyond his own music to his activities as a teacher; notable students include John Adams, Mason Bates and Randall Woolf. He currently serves as Distinguished Professor of Music at The City College of New York.

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Jane Antonia Cornish: Duende

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Jane Antonia Cornish stepsComposer Jane Antonia Cornish grew up in England and currently resides in New York City.

Her interest in film music began while she was studying in university. Since then she’s led a fruitful career writing both music for the concert hall and for the big screen. Credits in the latter include the 2008 film “Fireflies in the Garden,” starring Julia Roberts, Ryan Reynolds and Willem Dafoe, and, most recently, Disney’s “Maleficent.”

Cornish’s chamber music is the focus of a new release on the Delos label, named after her piano trio “Duende.” The piece takes its conceptual impetus from the lectures and writings of poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca.

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Mohammed Fairouz: Drawing Inspiration from Text

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Photo credit: Samantha West

Photo credit: Samantha West

Although he’s only in his late twenties, composer Mohammed Fairouz is already one of today’s most-performed and commissioned composers. Violinist Rachel Barton Pine, the Imani Winds, and clarinetist David Krakauer are among the many champions of Fairouz’s work.

His international childhood has given him a uniquely cosmopolitan outlook which is immediately discernible in his work. Drawing from the music, poetry and philosophy of the Middle East, the Arabian Peninsula and the Mediterranean, Fairouz aims to illuminate the similarities of these cultures while also celebrating their uniqueness.

Fairouz’s Symphony No. 3 can be heard on a new CD release from the Sono Luminus label, along with his “Tahrir”, a concerto for clarinet and chamber orchestra inspired by the 2011 protests in Egypt’s Tahrir Square.

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Christopher Rouse: Writing A Head-Scratcher

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Christopher Rouse

Christopher Rouse – (C) Jeff Herman

Christopher Rouse has just finished his second year as the Marie-Josée Kravis composer-in-residence at the New York Philharmonic. His residency was just extended for another year into the 2014/15 season.

Earlier this month, the New York Phil put on its first-ever Biennial new music festival. Over the course of 11 days, there were concerts of all types, ranging from opera to solo piano, orchestra and chamber music.

Perhaps the most visible of these events was the premiere of Rouse’s “Symphony No. 4″, a roughly 20-minute work in two movements. The piece is, in the composer’s own words, a “head-scratcher.” After a long stretch of bright, festive music, the symphony turns on a dime to become something else altogether: a dark, elegiac reflection concentrated in the lower reaches of the orchestra.

A complete recording of the symphony (made by WQXR at the premiere performance) can be found here.

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Charles Wuorinen: Reconciling Past and Present

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Composer Charles Wuorinen’s operatic adaptation of Annie Proulx’s short story “Brokeback Mountain” premiered earlier this year at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain. Canadian bass-baritone Daniel Okulitch sang the role of Ennis del Mar, and tenor Tom Randle sang as Jack Twist. Annie Proulx herself provided the libretto, and was reportedly delighted with this new incarnation of her 1997 short story.

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Annie Proulx and Charles Wuorinen, courtesy BroadwayWorld.com

A new CD of Wuorinen’s chamber music is being released this month on the Albany label. It features world premiere recordings of “Metagong” for two percussionists and two pianos, and his “Trio” for flute, bass clarinet, and piano. Both pieces were written in 2008. Two classics from the Wuorinen catalog are also included: the “Sonata” for violin and piano from 1988, and “Janissary Music” for percussion from 1966.

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