Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Portland (Maine) area is about to be treated to an Innovation Celebration April 15-17, 2011 featuring the New Music Weekend at the University of Southern Maine School of Music combined with the Portland Conservatory of Music’s Back Cove Contemporary Music Festival. Experience the mixed musical stylings of New York and Maine in a weekend of new music at the USM School of Music, starting with Unaccustomed Earth, a performance from the New York-based group Two Sides Sounding in collaboration with the composers collective South Oxford Six. Then keep enjoying new music as South Oxford Six offers a master class on composition on Saturday, April 16  and round out the weekend with a free performance of original works from the USM Composers Ensemble. All this happens April 15-17 at USM School of Music, Corthell Concert Hall, on USM’s Gorham campus. And when the concerts end at USM, they’re just beginning at the Back Cove Contemporary Music Festival sponsored by the Portland Conservatory of Music. A series of don’t-miss performances are sprinkled throughout Saturday and Sunday April 16-17. The Festival is back for its third year of concerts. And don't forget that the Pytheas Center's own Yarmouth Contemporary Music Days 2011 is coming up on April 29th & 30th in Yarmouth (of course!). . . . this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC PERFORMANCES. Find more detail at Pytheas Performances.

Daniel Sonenberg has written extensively for chamber and orchestral ensembles, and has recently gained notice for his art songs and theater compositions.  His Baseball Songs, described by James Oestreich as "touching" in the New York Times, won the Robert Starer Competition Prize of the City University of New York. His music has been presented by the Da Capo Chamber Players, Friends and Enemies of New Music, the Momenta String Quartet, the New York Singing Teachers Association, the American Composers Alliance, Hudson Valley Philharmonic, The Woodstock Chamber Orchestra and others.  Portions of his opera, The Summer King, have been presented by American Opera Projects, the Manhattan School of Music, and as part of New York City Opera’s "Vox and Friends" festival at Symphony Space. Sonenberg is a founding member of the New York-based composers collective South Oxford Six, who have presented concerts of new music at Symphony Space and the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. He has received grants and fellowships from Meet The Composer, The Corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.  He has also gained national and international recognition for his scholarly work on singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Watch a performance of Sonenberg's Whistlesparks (2006), played by flutist Lisa Lutton and harpist Arielle . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

Aleksandra Vrebalov, who arrived in the United States from her native Serbia in the 1990s, is technically no longer an "emerging composer" or a "recent émigré." Her music has been commissioned by Carnegie Hall, has appeared on several recordings as well as in a prominent print publication, and her first opera, Mileva, will be staged this fall. But Vrebalov's initial success - performance by and subsequent commissions from the Kronos Quartet beginning when she was still in her 20s and had only just relocated to this side of the Atlantic - remains an encouraging model for all aspiring composers. According to Vrebalov, the lesson is "to be willing to take chances". Watch and listen to composer Aleksandra Vrebalov in an interview with NewMusicBox's Frank J. Oteri  . . . it's our COMPOSER PORTRAIT.

An internationally acclaimed composer, pianist and thereminist, Dalit Warshaw's works have been performed by over twenty-six orchestral ensembles, including the New York and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras, the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Y Chamber Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, the Albany Symphony and the Grand Rapids Symphony. Awards and grants include five ASCAP Foundation Grants to Young Composers, a Fulbright Scholarship to Israel (2001-2002), a Fromm Music Foundation Grant from Harvard University, and a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1984, she became the youngest person ever to win the BMI Award for Student Composers, with her orchestral piece Fun Suite, written at the age of eight. As a pianist, Warshaw has performed widely as soloist, chamber player and improviser, in such diverse concert spaces as Avery Fisher Hall, Miller Theater, the Juilliard Theater, Merkin Hall, Steinway Hall, Tonic, and the Stone. Having studied theremin with the renowned Clara Rockmore from an early age, she has appeared as thereminist with such ensembles as the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the American Composers Orchestra and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and has also performed in spaces such as Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall and Alice Tully Hall. A full-time faculty member of the composition/theory department at the Boston Conservatory since September 2004, Warshaw obtained her doctorate in music composition from the Juilliard School in May 2003. Warshaw has held residencies at the Yaddo and MacDowell Artist Colonies, as well as at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Listen to a performance of her Agitata (or "The Fiery One!") (1994) . . . one of this week's PYTHEAS EARFULS.

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