COMPOSER KEVIN PUTS APPOINTED DIRECTOR OF MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA COMPOSER INSTITUTE
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (June 11, 2014)—The Minnesota Orchestra announced today that Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Kevin Puts has been appointed Director of the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, an acclaimed professional composer training program that the Orchestra offers annually in conjunction with the American Composers Forum. Mr. Puts, whose contract extends for three seasons,will begin planningfor the next Composer Institute, which will be held in January 2015. He succeeds composer Aaron Jay Kernis, founder and director of the Composer Institute, who resigned October 2013.
“The Composer Institute, which focuses on emerging symphonic composers, is one of the most important ways that the Minnesota Orchestra supports and advances the work of developing composers,” said Music Director Osmo Vänskä. “Kevin understands the value of mentoring the next generation of composers. Now, following in the footsteps of his distinguished predecessor, Aaron Jay Kernis, I believe he will maintain and further develop this program as a superb and effective way of nurturing composers as they create new American music.”
Mr. Puts, whose Symphony No. 4, From Mission San Juan, will be performed by the Minnesota Orchestra this week, is well known to local audiences. His opera Silent Night, commissioned and premiered by the Minnesota Opera, won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Music; his Sinfonia concertante was commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra and premiered in April 2006. His sizable body of orchestral works and concertos has been performed by orchestras from the Atlanta Symphony to New York Philharmonic and by artists ranging from Yo-Yo Ma to Evelyn Glennie. He is a member of the composition faculty of the Peabody Institute.
“We’ve been discussing this role with Kevin for some time and I’m pleased the organization is now able to re-launch the Composer Institute,” said President and CEO Michael Henson. “I have always admired the intensity of Kevin’s music and believe that he will bring many great attributes to this program.”
Developed from annual new music reading sessions launched by the Minnesota Orchestra in its 1995-96 season, the Composer Institute now encompasses an intensive week-long series of tutorials, rehearsals and seminars for emerging composers—including substantial focus on the business side of composition—as well as a public performance that showcases their work.
The Minnesota Orchestra’s 12th annual Composer Institute will be held the week of January 12, 2015, and will culminate in a public Future Classics concert on January 16, led by Mr. Vänskä.
“Under the leadership of Aaron Jay Kernis, the Minnesota Orchestra’s Composer Institute earned a reputation of great prestige,” said Mr. Puts. “As one of the only comprehensive programs of its kind anywhere, it provides aspiring orchestral composers the exceedingly rare opportunity to hear their works performed by one of the world’s great orchestras. I am delighted and honored to share my own ideas and experience with the Institute.” Said American Composers Forum President and CEO John Nuechterlein, “The American Composers Forum is thrilled to collaborate with the Orchestra on this important program. Our long-standing partnership has been a hallmark of our service to the field for over fifteen years, and we look forward to continuing that work once again. We applaud Maestro Vänskä’s commitment to uncovering new talent, and we are delighted to be working with our good friend and colleague Kevin Puts.”
Each year, approximately seven composers from across the country are selected to participate in the Institute. Many composer alumni of the program have gone on to receive major commissions, prizes, grants and other opportunities. The composers chosen for the 2013 Composer Institute, which was cancelled due to the Orchestra’s labor dispute, have been offered the opportunity to participate in the 2015 program.
Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for the opera Silent Night, Kevin Puts has been hailed as one of the most important composers of his generation. His work has been commissioned and performed by leading orchestra in the United States and abroad, including the New York Philharmonic, the Tonhalle Orchestër (Zurich), the symphony orchestra of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, Atlanta, Colorado, Houston, Fort Worth, Utah, St. Louis, the Boston Pops, and the Minnesota Orchestra, and by leading chamber ensembles such as the Mirò Quartet, the Eroica Trio, eighth blackbird, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
Mr. Puts’ orchestra catalog includes four symphonies as well as several concertos written for some of today’s top soloists. In 2005, Mr. Puts received the honor of a commission in celebration of David Zinman’s 70th birthday, and the result was Vision, a cello concerto premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra. During the same year, his Percussion Concerto was premiered by Evelyn Glennie with the Pacific and Utah Symphonies. He has also written concertos for marimbist Makoto Nakura, violinist Michael Shih, clarinetist Bil Jackson, a piano concerto commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and premiered in 2008 by pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane, and, most recently, a Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra for the Mirò Quartet which had its world premiere with the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra and was subsequently performed with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra.
Among the many critically acclaimed recordings of his works, Mr. Puts’ two a cappella choral works, If I Were a Swan and To Touch the Sky, performed and recorded by the choral group Conspirare, were released in 2013 by Harmonia Mundi, along with a performance of his Symphony No. 4 (“From Mission San Juan”) performed and recorded by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop.
His upcoming projects include two new operas, a chamber opera, and a song cycle, including a commission by the Minnesota Opera to write an adaptation of Richard Condon’s novel The Manchurian Candidate with a libretto by Mark Campbell which will receive its world premiere in spring 2015.
Mr. Puts has received awards and grants from the American Academy in Rome, the Guggenhiem Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI, and ASCAP. He has served as Composer-in-Residence of Young Concert Artists, the California Symphony, the Fort Worth Symphony, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, and the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Puts received his Bachelor’s Degree from the Eastman School of Music, his Master’s Degree from Yale University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts at the Eastman School of Music. Since 2006, he has been a member of the composition department at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
THIS WEEK Minnesota Orchestra Classical Concerts MAHLER’S FIFTH SYMPHONY
Thursday, June 12, 2014, 11 a.m. / Orchestra Hall Saturday, June 14, 2014, 7 p.m. / Orchestra Hall *
Minnesota Orchestra Courtney Lewis, conductor
PUTS Symphony No. 4: From Mission San Juan MAHLER Symphony No. 5
Tickets: $22-$84, 612/371-5656 or minnesotaorchestra.org
* On Saturday, June 14, Kevin Puts’ Fourth Symphony is performed twice, as the first work during the 7 p.m. concert and again at 10 p.m., in a free public event as part of the Northern Spark Festival at which it will be the only work performed.
The Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.