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  • Carnegie Hall Presents
  • ZH Zankel Hall
  • SA/PS Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
  • REW Resnick Education Wing
  • WRH Weill Recital Hall

Three Generations: Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 7:30 PM Zankel Hall
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Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly are leading voices of a new generation of young, eclectic, and absolutely fearless composers. NPR described Dessner’s music as “gorgeous and full-hearted,” while The Washington Post called Muhly “a composer who has everything.” Dessner's and Muhly’s music is performed by an ensemble of young cutting-edge performers who are not averse to taking risks on stage. This final concert of Three Generations, the Steve Reich–curated exploration of new music, presents the bold face of music now and tomorrow.

Part of Three Generations, curated by Steve Reich.


Pekka Kuusisto, Violin
Nadia Sirota, Viola
Nicolas Altstaedt, Cello
Adam Marks, Piano
Nico Muhly, Piano
Chris Thompson, Percussion


BRYCE DESSNER Skrik Trio (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
NICO MUHLY No Uncertain Terms (World Premiere, commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
Performance includes a discussion with Steve Reich, Bryce Dessner, and Nico Muhly

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately 90 minutes without intermission, followed by a discussion with Steve Reich, Bryce Dessner, and Nico Muhly.

Lead support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Public support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional funding is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.

Public support for Three Generations is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Steve Reich is the holder of the 2016–2017 Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair at Carnegie Hall.

Three Generations: Changing the Direction of Concert Music

I have curated this series of four concerts to demonstrate how concert music has changed from the mid-20th century to the present by pivoting from serial / random chance / atonal music—in which discernible harmony, rhythm, or melody was difficult or impossible to hear—to a powerful restoration of all these musical basics in totally new ways.

The first generation to initiate those changes are now in their 70s or 80s and include Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt, and John Adams. The music of these composers then interested a younger generation now approaching their 60s, including Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, who formed the Bang on a Can collective. In turn, a still younger generation, now approaching their 40s, took up both of these earlier generations and carried all these ideas even further. This very large generation is represented here by Bryce Dessner and Nico Muhly.

In addition to the performance of their music by several outstanding ensembles—including Ensemble Signal, Bang on a Can All-Stars, and the JACK Quartet—many of these composers will discuss their music after the concerts.

—Steve Reich


Pekka Kuusisto

Pekka Kuusisto is internationally renowned for his fresh approach to the violin repertoire. This season, he performs a series of prestigious concert dates, including debuts at the BBC Proms in London with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, as well as at the Edinburgh International Festival as part of the Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä's European tour. He also returns to the Seattle Symphony, tours with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie,play-directs the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and premieres Daníel Bjarnason'sViolin Concerto, written especially for him, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel.

An advocate of new music, Kuusisto gave the world premiere of Sebastian Fagerlund's Violin Concerto, leading to a critically acclaimed release of the work with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 2015. He also collaborates frequently with composers Daníel Bjarnason and Thomas Adès, and premieres a new work by Anders Hillborg this season with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

A keen chamber musician, Kuusisto has recently performed recitals at London's Wigmore Hall, Dortmund's Konzerthaus, and Amsterdam's Concertgebouw. His chamber-music partners include Nicolas Altstaedt, Anne Sofie von Otter, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Alexander Lonquich, and Olli Mustonen. He is also the artistic director of the award-winning Meidän Festivaali, which takes place annually in Sibelius's hometown of Tuusula.

Pekka Kuusisto plays a fine Stradivari violin kindly loaned to him through the Beare's International Violin Society.

Nadia Sirota

Violist Nadia Sirota's varied career spans solo performances, chamber music, and broadcasting. In all branches of her artistic life, she aims to open up classical music to a broader audience. Sirota's singular sound and expressive execution have served as muse to dozens of composers, including Nico Muhly, Donnacha Dennehy, Bryce Dessner, Missy Mazzoli, and Marcos Balter. Recently, Sirota won a 2015 Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor, for her Q2 Music podcast Meet the Composer, which deftly profiles some of the most interesting musical thinkers living today.

This season, Sirota releases two new records, one featuring Muhly's Viola Concerto with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin, and one featuring Dennehy's groundbreaking work for viola and microtonal viola da gamba consort, Tessellatum, with gambist Liam Byrne.

Sirota is a member of the chamber sextet yMusic and the chamber orchestra Alarm Will Sound, and has lent her sound to recording and concert projects by such artists and songwriters as Anohni, Jónsi, and Arcade Fire. In 2013, she won Southern Methodist University's Meadows Prize, awarded to pioneering artists and scholars with an emerging international profile. She received her undergraduate and master's degrees from The Juilliard School, studying with Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory, and Hsin-Yun Huang.

"If the ancient and unassuming viola is having a renaissance in contemporary music, it's thanks largely to Nadia Sirota, who specializes in, well, anything a composer can throw at her" (New York magazine).

Nicolas Altstaedt

German-French cellist Nicolas Altstaedt is renowned for his creativity and versatility in his captivating performances of repertoire on both gut and modern strings.

Awarded the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award in 2010, Altstaedt performed Schumann's Cello Concerto with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel at the Lucerne Festival. Since then, he has performed worldwide with orchestras that include the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and all of the BBC orchestras, working with conductors Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Neville Marriner, Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Andrea Marcon, among others.

Orchestral highlights of this season include debuts with the Deutsche Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin and Martyn Brabbins, Kammerorchester Basel and Giovanni Antonini, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and Thomas Hengelbrock, and NDR Radio Philharmonic Orchestra (Hannover) and Andrew Manze. Altstaedt will perform Esa-Pekka Salonen's new concerto this summer at the Helsinki Festival with the composer conducting. In future seasons, Altstaedt will work with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, and Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne, in addition to being the artist-in-residence with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, where he will work with Sakari Oramo and Krzysztof Urbanski.

At the invitation of Gidon Kremer, Altstaedt became artistic director of the Lockenhaus Chamber Music Festival in 2012. In 2014, he took over the artistic direction of the Haydn Philharmonie, with whom he regularly performs at the Vienna Konzerthaus, Esterhazy Festival, and on tour.

Altstaedt was a BBC New Generation Artist (2010-2012) and a recipient of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship in 2009. He plays a violoncello by Giulio Cesare Gigli, Rome, from around 1760.

Adam Marks

Praised as an "excellent pianist" with "titanic force" (The New York Times), Adam Marks is an active soloist, chamber musician, and educator. Highlights of his 2016-2017 season include celebrations of Steve Reich with the San Francisco Symphony, a tour of Australia with eighth blackbird, a collaboration with filmmaker Jenny Perlin at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and continued touring and residency work as part of the duo Albatross. He has appeared as soloist with the Mission Chamber Orchestra, Manchester Symphony Orchestra, and National Repertory Orchestra, and at notable venues that include the Salle Cortot, Carnegie Hall, Miller Theatre, Logan Center for the Arts, Millennium Park, and Ravinia. He was a laureate of the 2008 Orléans Competition for contemporary music in France. Recent international solo performances include recitals in Brazil, Singapore, and Croatia.

Marks holds an undergraduate degree from Brandeis University, a master's from the Manhattan School of Music, and a doctorate in piano performance from New York University with research in works for the vocalizing pianist. His teachers include Sara Davis Buechner, Anthony de Mare, Donn-Alexandre Feder, Evan Hirsch, and Lois Banke. Marks proudly plays Yamaha pianos and Schoenhut toy pianos.

Chris Thompson

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, percussionist Chris Thompson has enjoyed collaborations with dozens of performing artists, composers, bands, and ensembles. His work spans a range of musical genres, and has resulted in the world premieres of more than 100 new works and the release of 25 studio albums.

Since 2008, Thompson has been a member of Alarm Will Sound, known for its versatility in presenting music of a wide variety of styles, from arch-modernist to the pop-influenced. He is also a member of the New York-based ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble), Line C3 Percussion Group (of which he is a founding member), and Chamber Orchestra of New York.

As a guest, Thompson has performed or recorded with an eclectic mix of ensembles and musicians, including Antony and the Johnsons, Björk, Tyondai Braxton, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Dirty Projectors, Doveman, Efterklang, GLANK, The Knights chamber orchestra, Lang Lang, Mark Morris Dance Group, The Metropolitan Opera, Oklahoma and Vermont Mozart Festival orchestras, Stamford Symphony, They Might Be Giants, and Wordless Music orchestra.

Thompson has recorded numerous solo and chamber music projects on the Bedroom Community, Cantaloupe, Innova, Naxos, New Amsterdam, New World, New Focus, Nonesuch, Sono Luminus, and Sony Classical record labels. He studied classical and contemporary percussion at UCLA with Mitchell Peters and The Juilliard School with Daniel Druckman.

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