An innovative young composer, David Hertzberg has been honored with the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, twoASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, the Fromm Commission from Harvard University, and the Aaron Copland Award from Copland House. Noteworthy in his rapidly growing career is his position as composer-in-residence with Opera Philadelphia and Music-Theatre Group. Last season, his chamber opera The Rose Elf was featured on Opera Philadelphia’s Double Exposure program and his concert work Sunday Morning was premiered by New York City Opera. Other recent commissions were premiered by pianist Steven Lin and violinist In Mo Yang at Carnegie Hall, soprano Julia Bullock, and the PRISM Quartet.
Hertzberg’s Spectre of the Spheres was performed by the New England Philharmonic in 2016, and was read by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and American Composers Orchestra. His for none shall gaze upon the Father and live will be performed by the Kansas City Symphony this season. femminina, oscura for the New Juilliard Ensemble and Nympharum for high soprano and the Juilliard Orchestra were both premiered at Alice Tully Hall; the latter garnered the William Schuman Prize from BMI and the Arthur Friedman Prize from
The Juilliard School.
Hertzberg has held residencies at Tanglewood, Yaddo, IC Hong Kong, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and Young Concert Artists, where he served as composer-in-residence. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The Juilliard School, and an Artist Diploma from the Curtis Institute of Music.
|In writing my Chamber Symphony (2017), I sought to create something essential, pared down. In the argument, voices speak to one another across vistas, from different sides of time, finding resonances both sympathetic and volatile. The music breathes with stoic indifference; silence turns space to sound like organ bellows. Though I conceived this work abstractly, the following lines by American poet Wallace Stevens often came to my mind while composing:
Of Mere Being
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance,
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.
You know that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.
The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.
Paola Prestini is “the enterprising composer and impresario” (The New York Times) behind the new Brooklyn venue National Sawdust and the “Visionary-In-Chief” (Time Out New York) of the production company VisionIntoArt (VIA), home to VIA Records. Named one of NPR’s “Top 100 Composers in the World Under 40,” her compositions are deemed “radiant … amorously evocative” by The New York Times, and “luminously involving” by the Los Angeles Times. She has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic, and the Kronos Quartet and works frequently with Beth Morrison to create large-scale multimedia works, including The Hubble Cantata (a virtual reality space operatic experience) and Aging Magician, presented at the New Victory Theater on Broadway. New works include Two Oars with Robert Wilson and The Colorado, an eco-film cantata currently on tour in halls and film festivals.
Across the border from Syria, in a forgotten Lebanese city, sits an unexpected building, the grand Palmyra Hotel. The hotel hasn’t closed since its opening in 1874, even as war has raged just outside its doors. Owner Rima Husseini says, “No one has a right to touch hotel Palmyra, except for time.”
I became fascinated with the hotel when I first came upon a video showing its interior. It became clear that I wanted to create a sonic orchestral world to relive its memories.
In her new eponymous video installation, Pendulum, Mami Kosemura sought to create a mysterious and unrealistic atmosphere, while using a real structure as its basis. This structure is the main salon of the Dillon + Lee townhouse, where Kosemura spent the summer. The artist wanted to abide by two self-induced rules: first to make the content of her video and the installation be of the same place; the second to introduce movement, but one that is simple and rhythmic, as in a pendulum. In the installation, two mirrors in the main salon are turned into projection screens to display the videos shot in the room. The video shows the space of the salon, as a mirror would reflect it, but Kosemura’s alternative version depicts the interior sliding horizontally from left to right, and right to left at regular intervals. Kosemura has decided to incorporate the errors that happens inevitably during a video editing process to further disorient the viewer.
As it relates to The Hotel That Time Forgot, this room is meant to represent a room in the Palmyra Hotel and is filled with everyday actions. The pendulum gives the viewer the sense of loss of time and blurred memories.
Trevor Weston’s honors include the George Ladd Prix de Paris from the University of California, Berkeley, a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the MacDowell Colony. The Boston Children’s Chorus commissioned Weston’s Truth Tones for a national television broadcast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 2009. The Washington Chorus, directed by Julian Wachner, featured Weston’s music in the first annual New Music for a New Age concert series in 2009. The following year, Trilogy: An Opera Company premiered Weston’s 50-minute dramatic work 4, honoring the lives of the four girls killed in the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. The Manhattan Choral Ensemble premiered his Paths of Peace in 2012 for choir and chamber orchestra using the text of Jupiter Hammon. Griot Legacies celebrates the African American Spiritual in new ways for adult choir, children’s choir, and orchestra, premiered by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra in 2014.
Weston’s musical education began at the prestigious St. Thomas Choir School in New York City at the age of 10. He received his bachelor’s from Tufts University and continued his studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in music composition. His primary composition teachers were T. J. Anderson, Olly Wilson, Andrew Imbrie, and Richard Felciano. Weston is currently an associate professor of music at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.
Images of flying fish have been ubiquitous in my life. As a national symbol and cuisine of Barbados, this animal has always intrigued me. Most of my family comes from Barbados, so I do not remember a time before knowing about flying fish. My grandfather’s restaurant and bar in Speightstown, now owned by my cousin, uses the image of flying fish in its logo. When I was a child, I thought that flying fish were magical, mythical creatures moving through water and air at great speeds. Flying fish “fly” to escape predators. They leap out of the water, gliding great distances to physically transcend problems in the same way that Daedalus, from Greek mythology, and the magical Africans in The People Could Fly flew away from danger. Flying Fish celebrates the elusive qualities of this animal as a magical symbol of spiritual agency.
Visiting the island of Barbados reminds me how much of my life resonates the culture of Bimshire (Barbados). Every time I visit Barbados, I feel like I am walking with my ancestors and with the vast history of the African presence in the Americas and the Caribbean. On the island, I feel like I am figuratively visiting the sound source of the resonance that I live. Flying Fish honors the African roots of Bajan (Barbadian) culture and African diasporic expression.
Steve Reich has been called “America’s greatest living composer” (The Village Voice), “the most original musical thinker of our time” (The New Yorker), and “among the great composers of the century” (The New York Times).
Reich’s musical legacy has been influential on composers and mainstream musicians all over the world. His music is known for steady pulse, repetition, and a fascination with canons; it combines rigorous structures with propulsive rhythms and seductive instrumental color, and also embraces harmonies of non-Western and American vernacular music (especially jazz). His studies have included Balinese gamelan, African drumming (at the University of Ghana), and traditional forms of chanting of the Hebrew scriptures, in addition to his studies at Cornell University, The Juilliard School, and Mills College with Luciano Berio.
Different Trains and Music for 18 Musicians have each earned Grammy Awards, and Double Sextet won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009.
Reich’s documentary video opera works—The Cave and Three Tales, done in collaboration with video artist Beryl Korot—have pushed the boundaries of the operatic medium and have been presented on four continents.
Reich’s music has been performed by major orchestras and ensembles around the world, including the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics; London, Sydney, San Francisco, Boston, and BBC symphony orchestras; London Sinfonietta; Kronos Quartet; Ensemble Modern; Ensemble Intercontemporain; Bang on a Can All-Stars; Alarm Will Sound; and Eighth Blackbird. Several noted choreographers have created dances to his music, such as Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Jiří Kylián, Jerome Robbins, Wayne McGregor, Justin Peck, and Christopher Wheeldon.
Reich was awarded the Gold Medal in Music by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2012. He was named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France, as well as a member in the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts. His honors include the Praemium Imperiale in Tokyo, the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm, the BBVA Foundation Award in Madrid, the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, the 2016 Nemmers Prize in Music Composition from Northwestern University, as well as the William Schuman Award from Columbia University, the Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College, and the Regent’s Lectureship at the University of California at Berkeley. He has been awarded honorary doctorates from the Royal College of Music in London, The Juilliard School, the Liszt Academy in Budapest, and the New England Conservatory, among others.
The 2016–2017 season marks Reich’s 80th birthday, with over 400 performances in more than 20 countries across the globe celebrating his music and legacy. Two new works received world premieres in fall 2016: Pulse, which received its premiere with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) conducted by David Robertson at Carnegie Hall; and Runner, which was performed at London’s Royal Ballet accompanied by new choreography by Wayne McGregor. Several presenters have announced special concert series and residencies to honor his anniversary, including Lincoln Center, San Francisco Symphony, the Barbican in London, Tokyo Opera City, and Carnegie Hall, which has named Reich the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair for the 2016–2017 season.
Born in New York, and raised there and in California, Reich graduated with honors in philosophy from Cornell University in 1957. For the next two years, he studied composition with Hall Overton, and from 1958 to 1961, he studied at the Juilliard School of Music with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. Reich received his master’s degree in music from Mills College in 1963, where he worked with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud.
“There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them” (The Guardian).
Tehillim (pronounced “the-hill-leem”) is the original Hebrew word for “Psalms.” Literally translated it means “praises,” and it derives from the three-letter Hebrew root hey, lamed, lamed (hll), which is also the root of halleluyah. Tehillim is a setting of Psalms 19:2–5 (19:1–4 in Christian translations), 34:13–15 (34:12–14 in Christian translations), 18:26–27 (18:25–26 in Christian translations) and 150:4–6.
The chamber version is scored for four women’s voices (one high soprano, two lyric sopranos, and one alto), piccolo, flute, oboe, cor anglais, two clarinets, six percussion (playing small tuned tambourines with no jingles, clapping, maracas, marimba, vibraphone, and crotales), two electric organs, two violins, viola, cello, and bass. The voices, winds, and strings are amplified in performance. In the orchestral version there are full strings and winds with amplification for the voices only.
The first text begins as a solo with drum and clapping accompaniment only. It is repeated with clarinet doubling the voice, and with a second drum and clap in canon with the first. It then appears in two-voice canon and at last the strings enter with long held harmonies. At this point all four voices—supported by a single maraca, doubled by two electric organs and harmonized by the strings—sing 4 four-part canons on each of the four verses of the first text. When these are completed, the solo voice restates the original complete melody with all drums and full string harmonization. The second text begins immediately after a short drum transition. Here the three verses of text are presented in two- or three-voice harmony in a homophonic texture. Sometimes the voices are replaced by the cor anglais and clarinet or by the drums and clapping. Soon the melodic lines begin augmenting (or lengthening) and then adding melismas. The effect is of a melodic line growing longer and more ornate. After a pause, the third text begins in a slower tempo and with the percussion changed to a marimba and vibraphone. The text is presented as a duet, first between two and then all four voices. This third text is not only the first slow movement I have composed since my student days, but also the most chromatic music I have ever composed (with the possible exception of Variations for Winds, Strings, and Keyboards of 1979). The fourth and final text resumes the original tempo and key signature and combines techniques used in the preceding three movements. It is, in effect, a recapitulation of the entire piece which then, in a coda based solely on the word Halleluyah, extends the music to its largest instrumental forces and its harmonic conclusion. This last movement affirms the key of D major as the basic tonal center of the work after considerable harmonic ambiguity.
The tambourines (without jingles) are perhaps similar to the small Hebrew tof drum in Psalm 150 and several other places in the Biblical text. Hand clapping as well as rattles were also commonly used throughout the Middle East in the Biblical period, as were small pitched cymbals. Beyond this, there is no musicological content to Tehillim. No Jewish themes were used for any of the melodic materials. One of the reasons I chose to set Psalms as opposed to parts of the Torah or Prophets is that the oral tradition among Jews in the West for singing Psalms has been lost. (It has been maintained by Yemenite Jews.) This meant that I was free to compose the melodies for Tehillim without a living oral tradition to either imitate or ignore.
In contrast to most of my earlier work, Tehillim is not composed of short repeating patterns. Though an entire melody may be repeated either as the subject of a canon or variation, this is actually closer to what one finds throughout the history of Western music. While the four-part canons in the first and last movements may well remind some listeners of my early tape pieces It’s Gonna Rain and Come Out, which are composed of short spoken phrases repeated over and over again in close canon, Tehillim will probably strike most listeners as quite different from my earlier works. There is no fixed meter or metric pattern in Tehillim, as there is in my earlier music. The rhythm of the music here comes directly from the rhythm of the Hebrew text and is consequently in flexible changing meters. This is the first time I have set a text to music since my student days, and the result is a piece based on melody in the basic sense of that word. The use of extended melodies, imitative counterpoint, functional harmony, and full orchestration may well suggest renewed interest in Classical or, more accurately, Baroque and earlier Western musical practice. The non-vibrato, non-operatic vocal production will also remind listeners of Western music prior to 1750. However, the overall sound of Tehillim—and in particular the intricately interlocking percussion writing which, together with the text, forms the basis of the entire work—marks this music as unique by introducing a basic musical element that one does not find in earlier Western practice including the music of this century. Tehillim may thus be heard as traditional and new at the same time.