Performance Tuesday, January 31, 2012 | 8 PM

American Composers Orchestra

Philip Glass 75th Birthday Concert

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
It really is his birthday! Philip Glass was born on January 31—75 years ago—and the American Composers Orchestra commemorates the occasion with the US premiere of his newest symphony. It’s a genre that Glass has been focusing on since 1992, when he completed his “Low” Symphony based on the 1977 David Bowie album.


  • American Composers Orchestra
    Dennis Russell Davies, Conductor Laureate
  • Maki Namekawa, Piano


  • PÄRT Lamentate (NY Premiere)
  • PHILIP GLASS Symphony No. 9 (US Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Bruckner Orchester Linz)


  • American Composers Orchestra

    Now in its 35th year, American Composers Orchestra is the only orchestra in the world dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. ACO makes the creation of new opportunities for American composers and new American orchestral music its central purpose. Through concerts at Carnegie Hall and other venues, recordings, internet and radio broadcasts, educational programs, New Music Readings Sessions, and commissions, ACO identifies today's brightest emerging composers; champions prominent established composers and those lesser-known; and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music. ACO also serves as an incubator of ideas, research, and talent; as a catalyst for growth and change among orchestras; and as an advocate for American composers and their music.

    To date, ACO has performed music by some 750 American composers, including 250 world premieres and newly commissioned works. Among the orchestra's innovative programs have been SONiC: Sounds of a New Century, a nine-day citywide festival in New York of music by more than 100 composers age 40-and-under; Sonidos de las Américas, six annual festivals devoted to Latin American composers and their music; Coming to America, a program immersing audiences in the ongoing evolution of American music through the work of immigrant composers; Orchestra Tech, a long-term initiative to integrate new digital technologies in the symphony orchestra; Improvise!, a festival devoted to the exploration of improvisation and the orchestra; Playing it Unsafe, a new laboratory for the research and development of experimental new works for orchestra; and Orchestra Underground, ACO's entrepreneurial cutting-edge orchestral ensemble that embraces new technology, eclectic instruments, influences, and spatial orientation of the orchestra, new experiments in the concert format, and multimedia and multi-disciplinary collaborations.

    Composer development has been at the core of ACO's mission since its founding. In addition to its annual Underwood New Music Readings and Commission, ACO also provides a range of additional educational and professional development opportunities, including composer residencies and the Van Lier Emerging Composer Fellowship. In 2008, ACO launched EarShot, a multi-institutional network that assists orchestras around the country in launching new music readings sessions. Recent EarShot collaborations have included the Nashville, Memphis, and Colorado symphonies; New York Youth Symphony; and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

    Among the honors ACO has received are special awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and from BMI in recognition of the orchestra's outstanding contribution to American music. ASCAP has awarded its annual prize for adventurous programming to ACO 33 times, singling out ACO as "the orchestra that has done the most for American music in the United States." ACO received the inaugural METLife Award for Excellence in Audience Engagement, and a proclamation from the New York City Council. ACO recordings are available on ARGO, CRI, ECM, Point, Phoenix USA, MusicMasters, Nonesuch, Tzadik, New World Records,,, and iTunes. ACO's next album will be devoted to emerging composers and will be released on February 14, 2012. Visit for more information.

    Dennis Russell Davies

    Internationally acclaimed musician Dennis Russell Davies is avidly sought out for his extraordinary breadth of repertoire, technical brilliance, and fearless music making. A maverick in his field, he is hailed as one of the few conductors whose unquestioned commitment to new music has not severed his connections to the standard repertory. At the forefront of both orchestral and operatic worlds, Mr. Davies is also an accomplished pianist who is in demand by orchestras, composers, and fellow musicians worldwide for his inspiring collaborations and interpretive mastery.

    A frequent guest conductor with major orchestras and opera companies throughout the world, Mr. Davies has held music directorships of prestigious orchestras for over 40 uninterrupted years. He is currently chief conductor and music director of the Bruckner Orchester Linz, chief conductor of the Linz Opera, and music director of the Sinfonieorchester Basel in Switzerland. Additionally, Mr. Davies is a professor at the Salzburg Mozarteum, as well as conductor laureate of the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. In the US, he continues as conductor laureate of American Composers Orchestra, which he co-founded in 1977 and with whom he has premiered more than 150 new works.

    As conductor and pianist, Mr. Davies has released more than 60 recordings, which have earned numerous awards. Recent recording highlights include the complete Bruckner symphonies with the Bruckner Orchester Linz for Arte Nova / Sony BMG, and the complete Haydn symphonies with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra for Sony Classical / Sony BMG. Mr. Davies has also recorded the complete symphonies of Philip Glass.

    Mr. Davies was born in Toledo, Ohio, and graduated from The Juilliard School. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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  • Maki Namekawa

    Maki Namekawa's dedication to the works of leading international contemporary composers and her commitment to audience development have secured her a notable place among today's artists.

    As a soloist and chamber musician at home in both classical and current repertoire, Ms. Namekawa appears regularly at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr, Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe, and the Musikverein in Vienna. Since 2005, she has appeared with her duo partner Dennis Russell Davies at the Lincoln Center Festival, Benaroya Hall in Seattle, Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, Radialsystem V in Berlin, Festival International de Colmar in France, and the Theater an der Wien in Vienna.

    Recent orchestral appearances include repeat engagements with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, as well as concerts with the Münchner Philharmoniker, Bruckner Orchestra Linz, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Dresdner Philharmoniker, Bochum Symphony Orchestra, and Erfurt Philharmonic Orchestra. During the 2011-2012 season, she appears for the first time with the Bamberger Symphoniker and performs the opening concert of the Ravenna Festival.

    Ms. Namekawa has recorded extensively for the Orange Mountain Music, Klavier-Festival Ruhr, and Brucknerhaus labels, and has performed frequently for the major radio networks in Germany, Switzerland, France, and Holland.

    Ms. Namekawa pursued her piano studies at the Kunitachi College of Music in Tokyo under Mikio Ikezawa and Henriette Puig-Roget. She continued her studies at the Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe with Werner Genuit and Kaya Han, and later at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln with Pierre-Laurent Aimard. She is married to Dennis Russell Davies.

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Philip Glass Heroes
American Composers Orchestra; Dennis Russell Davies, Conductor 
UMVD Labels

At a Glance

As we hear Philip Glass’s Ninth Symphony on his 75th birthday, I find myself in the delicious position of taking stock of a canon in American symphonic music. Truly a composer of international stature, Philip has done more for the symphonic tradition of music making in the last half of the 20th century than any other composer that comes to mind. With pieces that range from many different source materials, Philip has kept his head down and his ears open as he explored many stylistic realms in his symphonic output. I’ve had the privilege to be on the podium for most of these pieces’ premieres and continue to be awed by the range of compositional exploration, as well as the sheer scope in the varied uses of the symphony orchestra.

Philip and I decided to program Arvo Pärt’s Lamentate on this concert as a nod to the distant, yet recognizable symbiosis between the two composers across the sea. While mining their own realms of tonality and rhythmic languages, both compose using clear and granitic structures. Philip also feels that Arvo’s music is not programmed nearly enough in this country.

The two met at the Bonn Festival in 1987 but have had limited personal or programmatic contact until tonight. To pair with his new symphony, Philip wanted to program a piece from the modern canon that could serve as the concerto part of the classic symphony-evening framework. The Carnegie Hall–Bruckner Orchester Linz commission and the Glass-Pärt pairing mesh nicely in this “hands across the sea” approach to the universal genre of the Classical symphony.

Wishing a very happy birthday to my close friend, Philip Glass—the dean of American symphonic composition—whose work I look forward to presenting for years to come.

—Dennis Russell Davies

Program Notes