• Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair: Osvaldo Golijov

  • Osvaldo Golijov (Tanit Sakakini)Osvaldo Golijov has been appointed to hold the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall for the 2012–2013 season. As part of this residency, he also serves as one of four artistic advisors for Carnegie Hall’s Voices from Latin America festival in November and December 2012. Mr. Golijov—along with Gustavo Dudamel, Gilberto Gil, and Chucho Valdés—has provided invaluable counsel in shaping the direction and programming of this vibrant festival.

    At the heart of Mr. Golijov’s composer residency is a performance of his La Pasión según San Marcos, the acclaimed work that launched him to international prominence when it premiered in Stuttgart in 2000. For this performance in March—its first in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage—hundreds of New York City high school singers join with members of Schola Cantorum de Venezuela and its director Maria Guinand (for whom the work was written), as well as soprano Jessica Rivera and vocalist Luciana Souza, in the culminating performance of a month-long creative learning project presented by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. Robert Spano, a frequent collaborator of Mr. Golijov’s, conducts the performance. Commissioned as a contemporary Passion to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Bach’s death, the work tells the story of Christ’s final days and draws on the sounds of Latin America—including Mr. Golijov’s native Argentina—to set texts in Spanish, Latin, and Aramaic, before closing with a haunting Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead. The piece is percussive, often theatrical, vividly evocative, and entirely characteristic of Mr. Golijov’s personal aesthetic.

    Concerts in January and February feature new Carnegie Hall–commissioned works by Mr. Golijov in their New York premieres: Leonidas Kavakos performing the composer’s Violin Concerto with The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and the St. Lawrence String Quartet—with whom Mr. Golijov first collaborated in 1992—in the premiere of his string quartet Qohelet on a Making Music program. The Making Music program also includes Ayre, his collection of folk songs that range from tender to raucous, a past Carnegie Hall commission. Later in the season, soprano Dawn Upshaw—another frequent collaborator of Mr. Golijov’s—performs two songs of his with the Crash Ensemble led by conductor Alan Pierson.

    Osvaldo Golijov has become one of the most prominent and frequently performed living composers of our time. Born in 1960 to an Eastern European Jewish family in La Plata, Argentina, Mr. Golijov was surrounded by classical chamber music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music, and the “new tango” of Astor Piazzolla. This amalgam of influences features significantly in his work. The originality and creativity of his voice has earned him a unique place in contemporary repertoire as well as many accolades, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003. Mr. Golijov has received numerous commissions from major ensembles and institutions in the US and Europe. His music is performed regularly by such musicians as Robert Spano, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Dawn Upshaw, Luciana Souza, and Maya Beiser; the St. Lawrence, Kronos, and Borromeo quartets; the Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta symphony orchestras; and the New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic. His collaborations continue to grow, most recently with film director Francis Ford Coppola, for whom he has written two film scores in less than two years and is currently at work on a third. Ainadamar, Mr. Golijov’s opera based on the life of Federico García Lorca, won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Composition in 2006. He has been composer-in-residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Merkin Concert Hall in New York City, Spoleto Festival USA, Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Music Alive series, Marlboro Music, Ravinia, and several other festivals. Mr. Golijov is Loyola Professor of Music at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he has taught since 1991.

    Previous holders of the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall are Kaija Saariaho (2011–2012), Brad Mehldau (2010–2011), Louis Andriessen (2009–2010), Elliott Carter (2008–2009), Thomas Adès (2007–2008), John Adams (2003–2007), Pierre Boulez (1999–2003), and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (1995–1999).