Part of: Zankel Sampler I
Alarm Will Sound
Alan Pierson, Artistic Director, Conductor, and Co-Host
Nadia Sirota, Viola and Co-Host
John Orfe, Piano
Steven Beck, Harpsichord
Program to include:
Alarm Will Sound is a 20-member band committed to innovative performances and recordings of today’s music, gaining a reputation for performing demanding works with energetic skill. The group’s performances have been described as “equal parts exuberance, nonchalance, and virtuosity” by Financial Times and as “a triumph of ensemble playing” by the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times has said that Alarm Will Sound is “one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene.”
The versatility of Alarm Will Sound allows it to take on music from a wide variety of styles. Its repertoire ranges from the arch-modernist to the pop-influenced. Since its inception, Alarm Will Sound has been associated with composers at the forefront of contemporary music, premiering pieces by John Adams, Steve Reich, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Aaron Jay Kernis, Augusta Read Thomas, Derek Bermel, Benedict Mason, and Wolfgang Rihm. With many composer-performers in its ranks, the ensemble offers an unusual degree of insight into the creation and performance of new works.
Alarm Will Sound can be heard on nine recordings, including its most recent, Splitting Adams, in collaboration with Meet the Composer, a Peabody Award–winning podcast, as well as the premiere recording of Steve Reich’s Radio Rewrite. The ensemble’s genre-bending, critically acclaimed Acoustica features live-performance arrangements of music by electronica guru Aphex Twin. This unique project taps the diverse talents within the group, from the many composers who made arrangements of the original tracks, to the experimental approaches developed by the performers.
In a 2016 co-production with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Alarm Will Sound presented the world premiere of the staged version of Donnacha Dennehy’s The Hunger at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Touhill Performing Arts Center. In 2013–2014, Alarm Will Sound served as artists-in-residence at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Alarm Will Sound has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, (Le) Poisson Rouge, Miller Theatre at Columbia University, The Kitchen, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Kimmel Center, Library of Congress, Walker Art Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum, and as part of Cal Performances, Stanford Live, Duke Performances, and the Bang on a Can Marathon. International tours have taken the group to the Holland Festival, Kraków’s Sacrum Profanum Festival, St. Petersburg’s Pro Arte, and London’s Barbican Centre, among others.
For additional information, visit alarmwillsound.com.
Alan Pierson has been praised as “a dynamic conductor and musical visionary” by The New York Times, “a young conductor of monstrous skill” by Newsday, “gifted and electrifying” by The Boston Globe, and “one of the most exciting figures in new music today” by Fanfare. In addition to his work as artistic director of Alarm Will Sound, he is principal conductor of the Dublin-based Crash Ensemble; has served as artistic director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic; and has acted as a guest conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Steve Reich and Musicians, Ensemble Connect, Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, New World Symphony, and Silkroad. He is co-director of Northwestern University’s Contemporary Music Ensemble, and has been a visiting faculty conductor at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and the Eastman School of Music. Mr. Pierson has collaborated with major composers and performers, including Yo-Yo Ma, Steve Reich, Dawn Upshaw, Osvaldo Golijov, John Adams, Augusta Read Thomas, David Lang, Michael Gordon, La Monte Young, and choreographers Christopher Wheeldon, Akram Khan, and Eliot Feld. Mr. Pierson received bachelor’s degrees in physics and music from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a doctorate in conducting from the Eastman School of Music. He has recorded for Nonesuch Records, Cantaloupe Music, Sony Classical, and Sweetspot DVD.
Violist Nadia Sirota’s varied career spans solo performances, chamber music, curation, and broadcasting. In all branches of her artistic life, she aims to open classical music up to a wider audience. Her singular sound and expressive execution have served as muse to dozens of composers, including Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, Missy Mazzoli, Daníel Bjarnason, Judd Greenstein, Marcos Balter, and David Lang. In 2015, she won a Peabody Award for her podcast Meet the Composer, which deftly profiles some of the most interesting musical thinkers living today.
Next season, Ms. Sirota teams up with the New York Philharmonic as its first-ever creative partner, a position created specifically for her. In this role, she will host nine contemporary music concerts over two new series: Nightcap and Sound ON, the latter of which she will also curate.
As a soloist, Ms. Sirota has appeared with acclaimed orchestras around the world, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orquesta Nacional de España, and Orchestre National d’Île-de-France. To date, she has released four albums of commissioned music, most recently Tessellatum, a recording of Donnacha Dennehy’s groundbreaking work for viola and microtonal viola da gamba consort that features Liam Byrne.
Ms. Sirota is also a member of the acclaimed chamber sextet yMusic. Its virtuosic execution and unique configuration have attracted high-profile collaborators, including Paul Simon, Ben Folds, Ryan Lott, and Anohni, and inspired an expanding repertoire of original works by prominent composers, including Andrew Norman, Caroline Shaw, and Chris Thile.
In 2013, Ms. Sirota won Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Prize, awarded to pioneering artists and scholars with an emerging international profile.
Dr. John Orfe—a Jacob K. Javits Fellow and Tanglewood Music Center Fellow—has won a Morton Gould Young Composer Award, nine ASCAP Plus Awards, a William Schuman Prize and a Boudleaux Bryant Commission from BMI, and a Charles Ives Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His works have been performed in the UK, Thailand, Canada, Russia, Germany, Australia, and throughout North and South America by such ensembles as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra, Dinosaur Annex, and Aspen Contemporary Ensemble.
Dr. Orfe has received commissions from Duo Montagnard, Dez Cordas, Alarm Will Sound, NOVUS, Two Rivers Chorale, Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, Ludovico, Music Institute of Chicago, Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, and Gamelan Lila Muni. The New York Times hailed his Cyclone for Two Violas as a “striking and momentous work.” Chamber Symphony, commissioned by Alarm Will Sound and Ludovico, was performed by Alarm Will Sound in 2008 to critical acclaim in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and in London two years later. His album Dowland Remix (2009) received glowing mention in Die Welt and the Hamburger Abendblatt following performances in Hamburg and Bremen, Germany.
As a pianist, Dr. Orfe has performed across the US and in Central and South America in such venues as the Kennedy Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, New York’s World Financial Center, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and The Alfred Hertz Memorial Concert Hall at the University of California, Berkeley.
Pianist Steven Beck continues to gather acclaim for his performances and recordings. Recent highlights include performances of variations and bagatelles by Beethoven at Bargemusic. In addition, this season he performs with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Beck is an experienced performer of new music, having worked with Elliott Carter, Pierre Boulez, Henri Dutilleux, Charles Wuorinen, George Crumb, George Perle, and Fred Lerdahl, and with such ensembles as Speculum Musicae and the New York New Music Ensemble. He is a member of the Da Capo Chamber Players, The Knights, and the Talea Ensemble. He is also a member of the piano duo Quattro Mani.
Mr. Beck’s recordings include performances of Peter Lieberson’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto.