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Tania León with Ursula Oppens, Jade Simmons and the Brasil Guitar Duo
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This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.




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+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 03/22/2007 at Symphony Space.

A vital personality on the music scene since her days as Dance Theatre of Harlem's first musical director, Tania León is a world-class composer and conductor, educator and adviser to the arts. Her music has fused a uniquely vital rhythmic and melodic musical style that draws from her own Afro-Cuban, Spanish, French and Chinese heritage.

In this concert, León's compositions and other works are performed by pianists Ursula Oppens and Jade Simmons, as well as the Brasil Guitar Duo. Composer Paul Moravec is host.

 

PROGRAM

 

Toccata

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson

Jade Simmons, piano

 

Etude 4: Fanfares (from Etudes pour Piano, premier livre)

Gyorgy Ligeti

Jade Simmons, piano

 

Ritual

Tania León

Jade Simmons, piano

 

Two Canons

Conlon Nancarrow

Ursula Oppens, piano

 

Mistica

Tania León

Ursula Oppens, piano

 

Mayn Yengele

Frederic Rzewski

Ursula Oppens, piano

 

Bailarin 

Tania León

performed by Douglas Lora

 

Paisanos Semos

Tania León

performed by Joao Luiz

 

Serrado

Djavan

Brasil Guitar Duo (Douglas Lora and Joao Luiz)

 

Brazilian Fugues:

Cantica

Baiao

Douglas Lora

Brasil Guitar Duo (Douglas Lora and Joao Luiz)

 

7 Aneis

Egberto Gismonti

Brasil Guitar Duo (Douglas Lora and Joao Luiz)

 

Noites Cariocas

Jacob do Bandolim

Brasil Guitar Duo (Douglas Lora and Joao Luiz)

 

Tumbáo

Tania León

Jade Simmons, piano

 

Satiné

Tania León

Ursula Oppens and Jade Simmons

+ About the Artists

Ursula Oppens and Jade Simmons, piano

Tania León, born in Cuba, is highly regarded as a composer and conductor recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. She has been the subject of profiles on ABC, CBS, CNN, PBS, Univision, Telemundo and independent films.

Tania León was one of the first artists to be featured by Harlem Stage new program, WaterWorks, in support of the creation of significant works by artists of color. During the two year residency, Harlem Stage presented several evenings dedicated to the composer's work, culminating in the world premiere of Reflections for soprano and mixed ensemble with text by Rita Dove. Recent commissions include Alma for flute and piano, The Atwood Songs for Soprano and piano with text by Margaret Atwood, Toque for Opus 21 a work for the Del Sol String Quartet and The Three Astronauts, a chamber opera in collaboration with Umberto Eco. In the past few years, León has appeared as guest conductor throughout Europe, including subscription series concerts of the Symphony Orchestra and Chorus of Marseille, France, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid, L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Santa Cecilia Orchestra (Rome), Gewaundhausorchester, Germany, as well as the Orquesta de la Comunidad y Coro de Madrid, Spain. Collaborations with writers and poets include Scourge of Hyacinths and Samarkand with Wole Soyinka, ...or like a with John Ashbery, Love After Love with Derek Walcott, Singin' Sepia with Rita Dove, A Row of Buttons with Fae Myenne Ng and Rezos with Jamaica Kincaid.

León is the recipient of a 2005 commission from The Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University. In 1998 she was awarded the New York Governor's Lifetime Achievement Award and in 1999 received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Colgate University.

León has received awards for her compositions from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, NYSCA, the Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Fund, ASCAP and the Koussevitzky Foundation, among others.

In 1998 she held the Fromm Residency at the American Academy in Rome. León was a founding member and first Music Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem establishing the Dance Theatre's Music Department, Music School and Orchestra. She instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series in 1978 and in 1994 co-founded the American Composers Orchestra Sonidos de las Americas Festivals in her capacity as Latin American Music Advisor. From 1993 to 1997 she was New Music Advisor to Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic. León has been Visiting Lecturer at Harvard University, Visiting Professor at Yale University, the University of Michigan and the Musikschule in Hamburg. She has received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Colgate University and Oberlin College. In 2000 she was named the Claire and Leonard Tow Professor at Brooklyn College, where she has taught since 1985. In 2006 Tania León was named Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York. In May 2007 she will receive an Honorary Doctorate from SUNY Purchase.

Winner of the 2006 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, The Brasil Guitar Duo's aesthetic encompasses the traditional works of Bach, Sor and Scarlatti and the musical forms of its native land - samba, maxixe, choro and baião. In a further embrace of their classical training and their inclinations, Douglas Lora composes for the ensemble, utilizing classical structures such as fugues and canons infused with Brazilian rhythms, and João Luiz uses the same blended approach in his arrangements for the duo. Its US schedule features the River to River Festival, the CAG Winners Series at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Americas Society and Barbes Bar and Performance Space in Brooklyn (part of CAG's New Music/New Places initiative). Summer 2007 engagements include the New York Guitar Seminar at Mannes and the Asociacion Nacional de Conciertos of Panama. João Luiz and Douglas Lora met in São Paulo as teenage guitar students and have been performing together for over ten years, perfecting a sublime synchronicity and effortless performance style.

Ursula Oppens, one of the very first artists ever to grasp the importance of programming traditional and contemporary works in equal measure, has won a singular place in the hearts of her public, critics, and colleagues alike. In addition to this evening’s performance, Ms. Oppens makes several appearances in New York this season including an all-Julius Hemphill program at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, a duo recital with noted pianist Jerome Lowenthal at Bargemusic and Queens College, and a duo recital with clarinetist Don Byron at Merkin Concert Hall.

Ms. Oppens has performed with virtually all of the world’s major orchestras. In previous seasons she has been heard with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Composer’s Orchestra, and the orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Milwaukee. Abroad, she has played with such orchestras as the Berlin Symphony, Orchestra de la Suisse Romande, the Deutsche Symphonie, the Scottish BBC, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

An enduring commitment to integrating new music into regular concert life has led Ms. Oppens to commission and premiere many compositions, including works by Elliott Carter, John Harbison, Julius Hemphill, Gyorgy Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Conlon Nancarrow, Tobias Picker, Frederic Rzewski, Joan Tower, and Charles Wuorinen. A co-founder of Speculum Musicae, Ms. Oppens has recorded extensively. She received two Grammy nominations: for her Vanguard recording of Frederic Rzewski’s The People United Will Never Be Defeated, and for American Piano Music of Our Time, a classic compilation of 20th century American piano music on the Music & Arts label. Ms. Oppens was appointed John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University in 1994.

Pianist Jade Simmons is the inaugural fellow of Concert Artists Guild’s New Music/New Places initiative. She possesses artistry, passion and creativity, infusing every project with her unique brand of communicative powers whether she’s appearing in a traditional proscenium setting, a club, a café or a classroom. Jade made her debut with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 2005 performing the Corigliano Piano Concerto. Another 2005 performance, of duo piano works of Tania León with pianist Ursula Oppens, was listed as one of the Year’s Best Concerts by ARTFORUM magazine. Jade continues her association with the music of Tania León this season, appearing twice at Symphony Space—once with works by Samuel Barber and Tania León; the other is tonight’s multi-artist celebration of Ms. León’s music. An artist with a social conscience that moves her to action, Jade addresses groups across the country on sensitive issues such as suicide prevention and youth violence, and she is the founder of the national school program Where Do You Stand?—a series of interactive presentations on topics from culture to the political climate.

Winner of the 2006 Concert Artists Guild International Competition, The Brasil Guitar Duo’s aesthetic encompasses the traditional works of Bach, Sor and Scarlatti and the musical forms of its native land - samba, maxixe, choro and baião. In a further embrace of their classical training and their inclinations, Douglas Lora composes for the ensemble, utilizing classical structures such as fugues and canons infused with Brazilian rhythms, and João Luiz uses the same blended approach in his arrangements for the duo. Its US schedule features the River to River Festival, the CAG Winners Series at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Americas Society and Barbes Bar and Performance Space in Brooklyn (part of CAG’s New Music/New Places initiative). Summer 2007 engagements include the New York Guitar Seminar at Mannes and the Asociacion Nacional de Conciertos of Panama. João Luiz and Douglas Lora met in São Paulo as teenage guitar students and have been performing together for over ten years, perfecting a sublime synchronicity and effortless performance style.

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