Concerts on the Slope Presents
the World Premiere of
Robert Sirota’s Spindrift
Commissioned and Performed by
Sunday, April 12, 2015 at 3pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church
139 St. John’s Place | Park Slope, Brooklyn
Free and Open to the Public
Robert Sirota: www.robertsirota.com
Sandbox Percussion: www.sandboxpercussion.com
New York, NY – On Sunday, April 12, 2015 at 3pm, Concerts on the Slope will present the world premiere of Composer-in-Residence Robert Sirota’s Spindrift at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Park Slope (139 St. John’s Place). Sandbox Percussion, the visually and aurally stunning percussion quartet that commissioned Spindrift, will be performing the piece, as well as works by ensemble members Jonathan Allen and Victor Caccesse, plus works by David Crowell, Thomas Kotcheff, Natalie Dieterrich, Jason Treuting, and Lukas Ligeti. Concerts on the Slope performances are open to the public and no tickets are required; a free will donation is suggested. Sandbox Percussion is Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum, and Terry Sweeney.
Of Spindrift, Sirota says, “Sandbox Percussion is an extraordinary ensemble; besides playing with the utmost virtuosity, they bring a sensitivity and refinement to their music-making rarely found in any chamber music group, let alone a percussion group. I wanted to create something that showed off their unusual combination of skill, finesse, and musicality. I began the process of composing by coming up with motives and gestures that were fleeting, light, and fast. With two marimbas and two vibraphones I was looking to capture the motion and fluidity of quickly flowing water. About halfway into the compositional process I came up with the title Spindrift, which is the term for windblown sea spray.” The four instruments will be positioned antiphonally in the acoustic space of the room.
The 2014-2015 Concerts on the Slope season includes 14 concerts from August 2014 through July 2015, performed by some of New York’s most talented up-and-coming musicians and ensembles including the Elmyr Quartet, Sandbox Percussion, and many more, as well as ensembles from out of town such as Orange County’s Trio Céleste and Margaret Brouwer’s Cleveland-based Blue Streak Ensemble. Artistic Director and cellist Benjamin Larsen has worked with Robert Sirota to create a cohesive yet stylistically diverse program for each concert. Over the course of the season, many of Sirota’s works will be performed including the world premiere of Canticle/Cantilena/Canzona (August 16), Assimilations for violin, clarinet, cello, and piano (September 14), Piano Trio (November 16), Triptych for string quartet (February 12), Cello Sonata (March 1), Spindrift for Sandbox Percussion (April 12), A Sinner’s Diary (April 30, Concerts on the Slope Gala), and Easter Canticles for cello and organ (June 14). A complete schedule of Concerts on the Slope’s 2014- 2015 performances and programs is available online at www.concertsontheslope.com/COTS/Calendar.html.
About Robert Sirota: Over four decades, composer Robert Sirota has developed a distinctive voice, clearly discernable in all of his work – whether symphonic, choral, stage, or chamber music. The New York Times has described his style as, “fashioned with the clean, angular melodies, tart harmonies, lively syncopations and punchy accents of American Neo-Classicism,” and writes, “Thick, astringent chromatic harmonies come in tightly bound chords to create nervous sonorities. Yet the textures are always lucid; details come through.”
Robert Sirota’s chamber works have been performed by the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society, Sequitur, Chameleon Arts Ensemble, Left Bank Concert Society, Dinosaur Annex, the Chiara, American and Blair String Quartets, Ethel, The Peabody, Concord, and Webster Trios, and the Fischer Duo, and at the Tanglewood, Aspen, Yellow Barn and Cooperstown festivals. Orchestral performances include the Seattle, Vermont, Virginia, East Texas, Lincoln (Neb), Meridian (Miss), New Haven, Greater Bridgeport, Oradea (Romania) and Saint Petersburg (Russia) symphonies, as well as conservatory orchestras of Oberlin, Peabody, Manhattan School of Music, Toronto, and Singapore.
Sirota’s liturgical works include three major commissions for the American Guild of Organists: In the Fullness of Time, a concerto for organ and orchestra; Mass for chorus, organ and percussion; and Apparitions for organ and string quartet, as well as works for solo organ, organ and cello, and organ and piano.
Recipient of grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the United States Information Agency, National Endowment for the Arts, Meet The Composer, and the American Music Center, Sirota is recorded on the Capstone, Albany, New Voice and Gasparo labels. His music is published by Muzzy Ridge Music, Boelke-Bomart (Hal Leonard), Music Associates of New York, MorningStar, Theodore Presser, and To the Fore. A native New Yorker, Sirota’s earliest compositional training began at the Juilliard School; he received his bachelor’s degree in piano and composition from the Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied with Joseph Wood and Richard Hoffman. A Thomas J. Watson Fellowship allowed him to study and concertize in Paris, where his principal teacher was Nadia Boulanger. Returning to America, Sirota earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University, studying with Earl Kim and Leon Kirchner.
Before becoming Director of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in 1995, Sirota served as Chairman of the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions at New York University and Director of Boston University’s School of Music. From 2005-2012, he was the President of Manhattan School of Music, where he was also a member of the School’s composition faculty.
Sirota makes his home in New York and in Searsmont, Maine, with his wife, Episcopal priest and organist Victoria Sirota, Canon Pastor & Vicar of the Congregation at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. For the Sirotas, music is a family affair. They frequently collaborate on new works, with Victoria as librettist and performer, at times also working with with their two children, Jonah and Nadia, both world-class violists. In his spare time, Sirota is an amateur painter and often depicts the landscape around Muzzy Ridge and Levenseller Mountain near his home in Maine.
About Sandbox Percussion: Brought together by their love of chamber music and the simple joy of playing together, Sandbox Percussion captivates audiences with performances that are both visually and aurally stunning. Through compelling collaborations with composers and performers, Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum and Terry Sweeney seek to engage a wider audience for classical music.
Sandbox made their New York debut in 2012 on the Concerts on the Slope series in Brooklyn. Following that performance, they accepted an invitation to become artists-in-residence of the series and have returned in each subsequent season. Later that year, Sandbox worked closely with composer James Wood on his masterpiece Village Burial with Fire at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Last season, Sandbox gave a TEDx talk in Brooklyn with the composer collective Blind Ear Music that showcased a computer program that enables a composer to compose music for live performers in real-time. Through a collaboration with the Yale School of Drama, Sandbox premiered composer/sound designer Palmer Hefferan’s effervescent multimedia piece, Forming the Year’s First Sky – a multi-movement work that combines intricate movement and lighting with music in a live concert setting. This season, Sandbox will work closely with composers Alex Weiser and Thomas Kotcheff on two new works for percussion quartet. Both works were premiered at The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Manhattan. On this program, Sandbox also performed the powerful second movement of David Lang’s the so-called laws of nature – a classic of the percussion repertoire. Later this season, Sandbox will collaborate with mezzo-soprano Elspeth Davis on one of György Ligeti’s final works, the song cycle Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedüvel. Other highlights include performances and clinics at New Haven’s Festival of Arts and Ideas, Cornell University, the Peabody Institute, and the Yale School of Music. Sandbox Percussion endorses Vic Firth sticks and mallets.
About Concerts on the Slope: Concerts on the Slope is an exciting young series producing monthly chamber music performances in the picturesque, historical parish of St. John’s Episcopal Church in the heart of Park Slope, Brooklyn. The aim of this series is that audiences from all over New York City will come out to Brooklyn to escape their busy lives, sit outside and enjoy the peacefulness of the courtyard, and then come inside to enjoy some world class chamber music, performed by some of today’s most exciting musicians. The concerts at St. John’s are free of charge, with a free will offering collection in the back of the church going 100% to the performers. Patrons are therefore asked to give generously if they can, to show the appreciation to the performers, and help keep the series thriving. Tax deductible donations are also accepted to the series itself, to help cover costs of piano maintenance, performance equipment, and to enable the series to better compensate participants in the future and explore exciting opportunities such as commissioning new works to be premiered in the concerts.
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