TOBIAS PICKER’S BALLET SCORE FROM AWAKENINGS TO BE PERFORMED AT MANNES COLLEGE THE NEW SCHOOL FOR MUSIC ON FRIDAY, MAY 2 AT 8 P.M.; Mannes American Composers Ensemble (MACE) to perform the world premiere of the in-concert version of the score

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For Immediate Release


Mannes American Composers Ensemble (MACE) to perform 
the world premiere of the in-concert version of the score

            NEW YORK, NY (April 23, 2014)—The score from Tobias Picker’s first ballet Awakenings will be performed in-concert for the first time at Mannes College The New School for Music on Friday, May 2 at 8 p.m. The ballet was originally commissioned and premiered in 2010 by the Rambert Dance Company in London, choreographed by Aletta Collins. Inspired by the themes and case studies in the novel by neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, Awakenings tells the true-life stories of eight hospital patients that exist in a catatonic state of paralysis called “encephalitis lethargica” as doctors try to medicate them out of their stupor. The results are short-lived, often violent episodes of tics and seizures before the patients regress back into petrified inertia. Awakenings will be performed by the Mannes American Composers Ensemble (MACE) in the Concert Hall at Mannes College. Tickets are free and for more information, please visit  

            Mr. Picker and Dr. Sacks met in 1990 and have since developed a close relationship with deep mutual respect and admiration for each other’s work. Initially Mr. Picker, who is diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, was curious to discuss his condition with Dr. Sacks, who authored Musicophilia: Tales of Music and Brain, and how it might relate to his music. Mr. Picker says, “In composing Awakenings, I was inspired by the exquisite art and stunning imagery of Oliver Sacks’ prose, and above all by the lives of the uniquely tragic patients he writes about. His book, Awakenings, written in the form of a series of case studies and footnotes, suggested the musical structure and characteristics of the score. While not specifically programmatic, I hope that the music may express some understanding of the patients as well as the sense of nostalgia, anger and longing they felt for their stolen past.”

            This concert is presented as part of the Contemporary Music Festival directed by faculty composer Lowell Liebermann. MACE, a large ensemble formed in 2012, performs the music of both established and emerging living American composers to provide a platform for contemporary American music. The program also includes the US premiere of Luna Pearl Woolf’s Orpheus on Sappho’s Shore.

About Tobias Picker
           American composer Tobias Picker, who is currently celebrating his 60th birthday season, is described by BBC Music Magazine as “displaying a distinctively soulful style that is one of the glories of the current musical scene.” He has composed numerous works in every genre and has had works commissioned and performed by the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic and the Helsinki Philharmonic. Mr. Picker began composing at the age of eight and studied at the Manhattan School of Music, The Juilliard School and Princeton University where his principal teachers were Charles Wuorinen, Elliott Carter and Milton Babbitt. His first commissions occurred while still in his late teens and, by the age of thirty, he was the recipient of awards including the Bearns Prize (Columbia University), a Charles Ives Scholarship and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. He received the Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1992 and was elected into the Academy in 2012. His first opera, Emmeline, saw its premiere at the Santa Fe Opera in 1996, and his fourth opera, An American Tragedy, was commissioned by and premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005. His adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox was commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Opera, and his Thérèse Raquin was commissioned by The Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, and Opera de Montreal. Mr. Picker’s first ballet, Awakenings, toured across the UK with the Rambert Dance Company throughout the 2010/11 season. Dolores Claiborne, Picker’s fifth opera, premiered at San Francisco Opera on September 15, 2013. Mr. Picker is currently the Artistic Director of The Opera San Antonio at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, and his music is published exclusively by Schott Helicon Music Corporation.

About MACE (Mannes American Composers Ensemble)
           Directed by Mannes faculty composer Lowell Liebermann, MACE (The Mannes American Composers Ensemble) is a large ensemble which focuses on the music of living American composers. MACE not only presents works by iconic American masters such as John Adams and William Bolcom, but also cutting-edge works by up and coming composers. The ensemble aims to embrace as broad a view possible of the incredibly diverse and vital landscape of contemporary American Music. This season will include performances of the music of Mannes 2013/14 composer-in-residence Uri Caine and also Ned Rorem, Huang Ruo, David Del Tredici, Louis Karchin, Derek Bermel, Lewis Spratlan, Tobias Picker, Luna Pearl Woolf and Pulitzer Prize-winning Mannes alumna Shulamit Ran. Click here to download past and future MACE programs.

About Mannes College The New School for Music
           Founded in 1916 by David Mannes and Clara Damrosch, Mannes became part of The New School in 1989. A leading conservatory of classical music, the college provides professional training for some of the most talented student musicians in the world. The comprehensive curriculum, the faculty of world-class artists and the resources of a progressive university support students in their quest for virtuosity in vocal and instrumental music, conducting, composition and theory. Like the students they teach, Mannes faculty members come from every corner of the world. They include performers and conductors from prominent orchestras, ensembles and opera companies and renowned solo performers, composers and scholars from every field of classical music.  

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Press contact: Leah Rankin, Shuman Associates, [email protected], 212.315.1300  

Friday, May 2 at 8 p.m.
Concert Hall, Mannes College
150 West 85th St
(between Amsterdam Ave and Columbus Ave)
New York, NY 10024  

Mannes American Composers Ensemble
Lowell Liebermann, conductor  


Tobias Picker               Awakenings (world premiere of concert version)
Luna Pearl Woolf         Orpheus on Sappho’s Shore (US premiere)                                                                                                Amy Burton, soprano; TBA, tenor

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