NEW JUILLIARD ENSEMBLE, LED BY JOEL SACHS, CONCLUDES ITS 4-CONCERT SERIES WITH
WORLD PREMIERES BY JUILLIARD COMPOSERS SIMON FRISCH, MAX GRAFE
AND VENEZUELAN COMPOSER PAUL DESENNE;
ALSO FEATURING NEW YORK PREMIERES BY ERIC LINDSAY AND REZA VALI
Free Concert on Friday, April 10, 2015 at 8 p.m. in Alice Tully Hall
NEW YORK –– The New Juilliard Ensemble, led by Joel Sachs, concludes its 22nd season on Friday, April 10, 2015 at 8 p.m. in Alice Tully Hall with world premieres by Juilliard composers Simon Frisch and Max Grafe, winners of the New Juilliard Ensemble’s annual composition competition; a world premiere by Paul Desenne; and New York premieres by Eric Lindsay and Reza Vali. The program features Max Grafe’s Kheir, Fantasy for Clarinet and Sinfonietta (2015, world premiere, composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble) with Juilliard clarinetist Miao Zhao; Simon Frisch’s Sandglass Vespers (2015, world premiere, composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble); Eric Lindsay’s (U.S.) Icarus (2013, New York premiere); Reza Vali’s (Iran/U.S.); Folksongs, Set No. 14 (1999, New York premiere) with Juilliard countertenor Eric Jurenas; and Paul Desenne’s (Venezuela) The Life of Benjamin – A Monkey Symphony (2015, world premiere, composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble). Free tickets for the April 10 concert will be available beginning March 27 at events.juilliard.edu or at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard.
About the Program
Simon Frisch is a New York-based composer and co-founder of the Brittany-based Festival Daniou, which is entering its second season of promoting contemporary American chamber music in the northwest of France. Mr. Frisch received a 2012 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award, and in 2011, attended the 100th Bayreuth Festival having received a Richard Wagner Study Grant from the Society of Friends of Bayreuth. Mr. Frisch holds a B.M. and M.M. from Juilliard, where he studied with Robert Beaser and Samuel Adler. His work Sandglass Vespers was composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble and receives its world premiere on this concert. He writes about his work: “There is a small and generally deserted strip of beach in Brittany bordering the forests that overlook the Rance estuary, and the beautiful medieval commune called St. Suliac. The nature of the estuary here is apocryphally ascribed to the historical figure St. Suliac, a 6th– 7th century evangelist: its width is said to have resulted from one of two miracles that allowed him to protect his monastery and earned him sainthood. (The other miracle was freezing marauding donkeys in place.) At night, the passing of time is marked only by gentle tolling from St. Suliac’s chapel and by periodic abrupt shifts in the artificially controlled tide, which threaten to leave one stranded. Time and tide are thereby etched on sands – the estuary becomes a “sandglass,” or hourglass, but one where sand functions as canvas and not as marker. Cast in a single extended movement, this music is meant to evoke the sensation of holding quiet vigil here.”
Max Grafe is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in composition as a CV Starr Doctoral Fellow at Juilliard, where he also received his Master of Music degree. His music has recently been performed by the New York Philharmonic, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, newEar Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, and bassoonists Elizabeth Garrett and Sasha Gee Enegren. This season, he will premiere three new works: a dance piece in collaboration with choreographer Silas Farley; a piece for cellist Eric Allen and the Chelsea Symphony; and a piece for FLUX Quartet at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. His Kheir, Fantasy for Clarinet and Sinfonietta, was composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble and receives its world premiere on this concert. The word “Kheir” is a transliteration of the ancient Greek for hand, and the root of the English term, chiral. He writes: “This describes the potential of certain chemical compounds (such as amino acids) to exist in either of two mirror-symmetrical arrangements, much like a pair of human hands. The implementation of the concept of mirror symmetry as applied to various musical parameters having been a prominent (though incidental) feature of much of my recent work, I decided in Kheir to make this idea central to the musical identity and construction of the piece. As such, the work’s harmonic and melodic vocabularies, its large-scale form, many of its rhythmic gestures, and even elements of it instrumentation and color palette are all conceptually informed by mirror symmetry to varying degrees of rigor.” The piece is in three sections.
Eric Lindsay holds a D.M.A. degree in composition from Indiana University-Bloomington and a Master of Music degree from the University of Southern California. He also studied at King’s College in London. His compositions, which frequently explore style-synthesis and the reinterpretation of tradition, display various approaches to concert music, interactive electronics, sound installation and film. His music has been performed by the American Composer’s Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, eighth blackbird, Argento Ensemble, New York New Music Ensemble, and others. Icarus was premiered in 2013 in Auer Hall at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University, by the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, conducted by David Dzubay. Mr. Lindsay writes: “As the story goes, Icarus fashioned his own fall when two goals––flight and hubris––came into conflict. Even though this myth is thousands of years old, there is something about Icarus’s ambitions that feel so modern; today’s age is one of unthinkable change and surprise, of innovations and revolutions, where ambitions for something better seem reachable if you stretched just a little farther for it. I aimed in Icarus to capture not only the noise of this increasingly connected world but also the tensions inherent to our constant redefinition of goals and priorities. The language of this piece is itself a reflection of these tensions, where repeated sections are pushed and pulled by various ingredients within the material moving, almost Nancarrow-like, at unique speeds. With each structural repetition, the goal of a passage is colored by the implications of alternatingly prominent rhythmic, metric and/or harmonic characteristics. The end result is a collection of earnest, opposing aims, blazing forward while always threatening to rip the whole apart at the seams.”
Reza Vali was born in Ghazvin, Persia (Iran) in 1952. After attending the Conservatory of Music in Tehran, he went to Vienna to study music education and composition at the Academy of Music. After graduation, he moved to the United States with a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, receiving his Ph.D. in music theory and composition in 1985. He has been a faculty member of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University since 1988. Mr. Vali has received numerous honors including two Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships and commissions from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Seattle Chamber Players, among others. His music has been performed in Australia, Europe, China, Chile, Hong Kong, and Mexico and is recorded on the Naxos, New Albion, MMC, Ambassador, Albany, and ABC Classics labels. Folk Songs (Set No. 14) was written in 1999 and dedicated to Pittsburgh conductor David Stock in honor of his 60th birthday. The work has its New York premiere on this concert. This is the fourteenth group of an ongoing cycle of Persian folk songs setting that Mr. Vali has been writing since 1978. In Set No. 14, the melodies of four of the five movements are Iranian, the fourth movement uses an “imaginary folksong,” that is, a melody written in the style of a folk song. All movements are interrelated; the first and the last are variations of each other.
The music of Venezuelan-American-French composer Paul Desenne (born in Caracas in 1959) is performed worldwide. Mr. Desenne is resident composer at El Sistema, a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow, and a 2010 fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. A graduate of the Paris Conservatory in cello, since 1987 he has been a cello and chamber music teacher at El Sistema, the Venezuelan music program for poor young people, an institution he first joined in 1977, and where he still teaches workshops on a regular basis. The Life of Benjamin – A Monkey Symphony receives its world premiere on this concert and is the third chamber symphony that Paul Desenne has composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble. The title of the work refers to NYC painter Allen Hirsch and Benjamin, his capuchin monkey. Mr. Desenne writes: “The Life of Benjamin is a series of tableaux crossing the genre barriers, depicting the original jungle, the travels to the city and back again, and finally to a life and death in Caracas and New York, immersed in the human world.” The music draws extensively on the indigenous Afro-Venezuelan idioms and popular music, though in a highly stylized manner.
About the New Juilliard Ensemble
The New Juilliard Ensemble (NJE), led by founding director Joel Sachs, celebrates the liveliness of today’s music, focusing primarily on repertory of the last decade. Now in its 22nd season, NJE presents music by a variety of international composers writing in the most diverse styles. Its members are current students at Juilliard, who are admitted to the ensemble by audition. Student interest in the ensemble’s work is considerable, with more than 100 students participating each year, although the maximum size of compositions is normally 15-20 players. The ensemble appears regularly at MoMA’s Summergarden and has been a featured ensemble four times at the Lincoln Center Festival. New Juilliard Ensemble members joined members of the Lucerne Festival Academy Ensemble with conductor Pierre Boulez for the 2008 FOCUS! festival, which celebrated composer Elliott Carter’s 100th year.
In September 2013, the New Juilliard Ensemble collaborated with the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Bicentennial Celebration and performed the U.S. premieres of works by Magnus Lindberg and Judith Weir. In November 2012, NJE collaborated with Carnegie Hall on Voices from Latin America, in April 2011, with Carnegie Hall’s Japan/NYC festival, and in November 2009, with Carnegie Hall’s Ancient Paths, Modern Voices festival.
In January 2009, the New Juilliard Ensemble opened the FOCUS! 2009 festival, CALIFORNIA: A Century of New Music, which showcased West Coast composers. In spring 2009, the New Juilliard Ensemble toured Japan; in December 2009, they performed aleatory music at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with an exhibition of Persian and Turkish “divining” manuscripts.
The New Juilliard Ensemble appeared in the FOCUS! 2010 festival, Music at the Center: Composing an American Mainstream; FOCUS! 2011 festival, Polish Modern: New Directions in Polish Music Since 1945; FOCUS! 2012 festival, Sounds Re-Imagined: John Cage at 100; FOCUS! 2013 festival, The British Renaissance, featuring British music since World War II with a tribute to the centenary of Benjamin Britten; FOCUS! 2014, Alfred Schnittke and His World which celebrated the 80th anniversary of Russian composer Alfred Schnittke and featured music by Schnittke and his contemporaries – Pärt, Gubaidulina, Kancheli, and Silvestrov; and FOCUS! 2015, Nippon Gendai Ongaku: Japanese Music Since 1945.
About Joel Sachs
Joel Sachs, founder and director of the New Juilliard Ensemble, performs a vast range of traditional and contemporary music as conductor and pianist. As co-director of the internationally-acclaimed new music ensemble Continuum, Dr. Sachs has appeared in hundreds of performances in New York, nationally, and throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He has also conducted orchestras and ensembles in Austria, Brazil, China, El Salvador, Germany, Iceland, Mexico, Switzerland, and Ukraine, and has held new music residencies in Berlin, Shanghai, London, Salzburg, Curitiba (Brazil), Helsinki, and the Banff Centre (Canadian Rockies).
One of the most active presenters of new music in New York, Joel Sachs founded the New Juilliard Ensemble in 1993. He produces and directs The Juilliard School’s annual FOCUS! festival, has been artistic director of Juilliard’s concerts at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) since 1993, and was also a co-director of the former Sonic Boom Festival of contemporary music – a project of a consortium of New York City’s most prestigious new music ensembles.
A member of Juilliard’s music history faculty, Joel Sachs has written a biography of the American composer Henry Cowell, which was published by Oxford University Press in June 2012. Dr. Sachs appears on radio as a commentator on recent music. He has been a regular delegate to Netherlands Music Days and other international music conferences.
A graduate of Harvard, Dr. Sachs received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He was given Columbia University’s Alice M. Ditson Award for his service to American Music. In 2011, he was made an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard University for his work in support of new music, and received the National Gloria Artis Medal of the Polish Government for his service to Polish music.
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Friday, April 10, 2015, 8 p.m., Alice Tully Hall
New Juilliard Ensemble
Joel Sachs, founding director and conductor
Miao Zhao, clarinet
Eric Jurenas, countertenor
Simon FRISCH Sandglass Vespers (2015, world premiere, composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble)
Max GRAFE Kheir, Fantasy for Clarinet and Sinfonietta (2015, world premiere, composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble)
Eric LINDSAY Icarus (2013, New York premiere)
Reza VALI Folksongs, Set No. 14 (1999, New York premiere)
Paul DESENNE The Life of Benjamin – A Monkey Symphony (2015. world premiere, composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble)
Free tickets for the April 10 concert will be available beginning March 27 at events.juilliard.edu or at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard.