Mostly Mozart Presents the Music
of Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir
Wednesday, August 3, 2016 at 6:30pm
World Premiere of For it will never return
Tenor Peter Tantsits and Harpist Megan Conley
Free Micro-Concert at Hearst Plaza
10 Lincoln Center Plaza | NYC
Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 3pm
New York Premiere of Ad Genua
Part of The Crossing’s Seven Responses
Merkin Concert Hall | 129 W 67th St | NYC
Tickets: $30 and up at www.mostlymozart.org
“a distinct, powerful voice” – Time Out New York
New York, NY – Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s music will receive two premieres at Lincoln Center’s 2016 Mostly Mozart Festival, performed by Artists-in-Residence the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) and chamber choir The Crossing.
On Wednesday, August 3, 2016 at 6:30pm, ICE members tenor Peter Tantsits and harpist Megan Conley, will perform the world premiere of Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s For it will never return, in a free micro-concert at Hearst Plaza (10 Lincoln Center Plaza). For it will never return was commissioned by ICE through their First Page Commissioning project and written for tenor Tantsits and harpist Megan Conley. Program thanks to the lead support of Frances Kazan. Part of Mostly Mozart’s effort to showcase contemporary music, this world premiere is one of 50 new works to be premiered by ICE during the 2016 festival.
On Sunday, August 21, 2016 at 3pm at Merkin Concert Hall (129 W. 67th St), The Crossing and ICE will perform the New York premiere of Anna’s Ad Genua (To the Knees) for solo soprano, choir and string quintet with libretto by writer and poet Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir, which they premiered in June at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral. The performance is the first half of The Crossing’s two-part Seven Responses program, for which seven of the world’s foremost composers were asked to compose 15-minute musical responses to Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri, an iconic sacred work of the German Baroque consisting of seven cantatas, each relating to a body part – feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and face.
The Philadelphia Inquirer called the world premiere of Seven Responses “one of the new-music events of the year” and described Ad Genua as “expansive, ethereal and full of effectively low-key melodies – all leaving you dumbfounded as to how its effects were achieved.” In addition to Anna’s new work, the concert will feature Buxtehude’s Cantatas 1-4, performed by The Crossing with Quicksilver Baroque, with responses by composers David T. Little, Caroline Shaw, and Hans Thomalla performed by The Crossing with ICE.
Seven Responses will continue at 7pm that day with Cantatas 5-7 and the responses of Lewis Spratlan, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, and Santa Ratniece. Seven Responses challenges artists and audiences alike to explore our relative distance from, or closeness to, music across centuries, cultures, and continents.
Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Ad Genua (To the Knees) is written as an atmospheric response to Buxtehude’s second cantata of the same title to stand as an independent piece of work. Anna chose Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir to write the libretto. Watch Anna speak about the libretto here: http://bit.ly/SevenResponsesAnna
Of the piece Anna says, “Guðrún Eva’s beautiful text inspired the lyricism of the solo voice that planted the seeds for the music. The music is also inspired by the notions of humility and of turning a blind eye – and a sense of longing for beauty in the face of pain and difficulty. The music envelopes the solo voice in a dreamlike state, both terrifying and calm at the same time. She is surrounded by elements that occupy the same space, but she is alone, unheard – passionately longing for “reality” to resonate with her. But it is easy not to see the pain that does not belong to you.”
Icelandic writer Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir’s first novel and collection came out in 1998 to critical acclaim. She has written five novels since then, including Fyrirlestur um hamingjuna (“Lecture on Happiness”) in 2000, which was nominated for the Icelandic Literary Prize and Yosoy (2006) for which she was awarded the DV Culture Prize. In 2012, she was awarded the Icelandic Literary Prize for Allt með kossi vekur (“Everything Is Woken with a Kiss”).
Anna Thorvaldsdottir frequently works with large sonic structures that tend to reveal the presence of a vast variety of sustained sound materials, reflecting her sense of imaginative listening to landscapes and nature. Her music tends to portray a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere.
Anna’s music is frequently performed internationally, and has been featured at many major venues and music festivals including Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, Big Ears, the Composer Portraits Series at New York’s Miller Theatre, Phillips Collection, ISCM World Music Days, Nordic Music Days, Ultima Festival, Klangspuren Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Reykjavik Arts Festival, Tectonics, and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Her works have been nominated and awarded on many occasions – most notably, Anna is the recipient of the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for her work Dreaming, and The New York Philharmonic’s Kravis Emerging Composer Award.
Anna was recently the featured composer of Q2 Music’s Peabody-winning program Meet the Composer, Episode #9 Anna Thorvaldsdottir: Composing Is Second Nature. The episode, hosted by Nadia Sirota, takes the listener on a journey through Anna’s childhood in a remote village in Iceland, through her emigration to California, and into her compositional process. Hear the episode: http://bit.ly/Q2_MTC_Thorvaldsdottir.
Recent and upcoming performances of Anna’s music include Aura by Nief-Norf at the Big Ears Festival, Aeriality by the Schleswig-Holstein Symphony Orchestra in Germany, a portrait concert by ICE portrait as part of the Leading International Composers series at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC, the Icelandic premiere of UR_ (chamber opera) at the Reykjavik Arts Festival, new works to be premiered at the 2016 Mostly Mozart Festival in NYC, and Aerality performed by the La Jolla Symphony. In May 2017, Alan Gilbert will lead the New York Philharmonic in Anna’s work Aeriality, part of Gilbert’s final season as Music Director.
Some of the orchestras and ensembles that Anna Thorvaldsdottir has worked with and will work with in the next season include International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, the NDR Symphony Orchestra, Bang on a Can All-Stars, BIT20, La Jolla Symphony, Musiques Nouvelles, Yarn/Wire, The Crossing, the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, the San Francisco Chamber Players, the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the CAPUT Ensemble, the Oslo Philharmonic, and Either/Or Ensemble.
Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s debut portrait album, Rhízōma, was released in October 2011 through Innova Recordings and was very well received, appearing on a number of “Best of 2011” lists including Time Out New York and Time Out Chicago. Her portrait album Aerial was released by Deutsche Grammophon in November 2014 and appeared on a number of year end lists, including The New Yorker, Boston Globe, iTunes Classical, and WQXR’s Q2 Music. In the Light of Air was released by Sono Luminus in August 2015, performed by ICE, and was included on many “Best of 2015” lists including those of The New York Times, The New Yorker, Boston Globe, and NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums across all genres.
Anna Thorvaldsdottir holds a PhD from the University of California in San Diego. When not engaged in music-related activities, she may be found doing yoga or walking in nature, seeking inspiration for music and life. Anna Thorvaldsdottir is married to Hrafn Ásgeirsson, PhD in philosophy, avant-garde saxophone player, and recreational photographer. For more information, visit www.annathorvalds.com.
About Tenor Peter Tantsits
Recent successes at Teatro alla Scala, Lincoln Center, and the Beijing International Music Festival lead tenor Peter Tantsits to be named, “one of his generation’s most consistently satisfying contemporary vocal music specialists” by OPERA Magazine (UK). Well known as the raving George III in ICE’s elegant, high-impact production of Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King, he is deeply committed to expanding the repertoire for high male voice.
About Harpist Megan Conley
Megan Conley grew up in a musical family in Austin, Texas and began harp lessons with Delaine Fedson at the age of five. By the time she was 15 she had played on several albums of Austin musicians, including the Grammy Award-winning album Los Super Seven. Coney received her Bachelor and Masters degrees from Rice University, where she studied with Paula Page. In 2005, was awarded a Fulbright Grant to study with Isabelle Perrin at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris, France. In 2012, Megan won first place in the Ima Hogg Competition, and subsequently performed Ginastera’s Harp Concerto with the Houston Symphony to a sold-out crowd. Coney joined the Sarasota Opera Orchestra as principal harp for their 2011 and 2012 seasons. As a freelance harpist, she has performed with the New York City Ballet, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Knights, the American Symphony, Ensemble LPR, and the Bang On a Can All-Stars, among others. Conley will be joining the Houston Symphony as Principal Harpist beginning in January 2015.
About The Crossing:
The Crossing is a professional chamber choir conducted by Donald Nally and dedicated to new music. Consistently recognized in critical reviews, The Crossing has been hailed as “superb” (The New York Times), “ardently angelic” (Los Angeles Times), and “something of a miracle” (The Philadelphia Inquirer). Formed by a group of friends in 2005, the ensemble has since grown exponentially and “has made a name for itself in recent years as a champion of new music” (The New York Times).
The Crossing commissions works regularly and has presented over forty world premieres. The 2015-16 season will feature an additional twenty-five commissioned works, with substantial contributions from Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, David T. Little, Santa Ratniece, Caroline Shaw, Kile Smith, Lewis Spratlan, Hans Thomalla, and Anna Thorvaldsdottir. Major commissioned world premieres have included John Luther Adams’ Canticles of the Holy Wind (2013, co-commissioned with Kamer), Gavin Bryars’ The Fifth Century (2014, written for The Crossing and PRISM), Kile Smith’s The Consolation of Apollo (2014) and Vespers (2008, a commission of Piffaro), David Lang’s Statement to the Court (2010), Lewis Spratlan’s Hesperus is Phosphorus (2012, co-commissioned with Network for New Music), and Ted Hearne’s Sound from the Bench (2014, co-commissioned with Volti).
The Crossing has released six recordings: Lewis Spratlan’s Vespers Cantata: Hesperus is Phosphorus (on Innova, 2015, with Network for New Music); Moonstrung Air (choral music of Gregory Brown, on Navona, 2015); Christmas Daybreak (on Innova, 2011, with world premiere recordings of James MacMillan and Gabriel Jackson); I want to live (on Innova, 2011, with the complete to-date choral works for women by David Lang); and It is Time (on Navona, 2008, featuring music commissioned for our first Month of Moderns). Gavin Bryars’ The Fifth Century is due to be released on ECM records in the coming year.
The Crossing is the recipient of the 2015 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence, two ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming, as well as the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award (with composer Joel Puckett) from Chorus America. Donald Nally was awarded the 2012 Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal for his work with The Crossing.
Original funding for Seven Responses was provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Philadelphia, with additional support from an anonymous supporter, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ann Stookey Fund for New Music, Debra Reinhard and Pamela Prior, and Eric Owens.
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