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The Music of Now 2011
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This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 02/21/2011 at Symphony Space.

The second annual Music of Now Marathon features a special 85th birthday tribute to Gunther Schuller performed by Ensemble Pi, the US debut of Ireland's Fidelio Trio performing works by Charles Wuorinen and Evan Ziporyn, new songs from Errollyn Wallen, visual musical collaboration as performances by Matt Sullivan on oboe with live electronics and by jazz pianist Gustavo Casenave are accompanied by live painting from artists Ken Cro-Ken and Vicky Barranguet. Also featured is the Cassatt Quartet joined by Ursula Oppens, and appearances by composers Joan Tower, Huang Ruo, Tania Leon, David Del Tredici, and Amir El Saffar, among others. Lively conversation punctuates the day.




Adam O’Farrill (1994)



Adam O’Farrill, trumpet; Livio Almeida, tenor sax; Adam Kromelow, piano; Michael Sacks, bass; Zachary O’Farrill, drums


Frank J. Oteri (1964)

The Nurturing River

Nos. 1, 2, 4, 12, 13, 14 (Nos. 1, 2 & 4 - World Premieres)

Phillip Cheah, voice; Trudy Chan, piano


Errollyn Wallen (1958)

Louis’ Loops


Off the Map

Tree (NY Premiere)

What's up Doc

Errollyn Wallen, vocals and piano


Amir El Saffar (1977)


Two Rivers Ensemble: Amir ElSaffar, trumpet, santour, vocal; Ole Mathisen, tenor saxophone; Zafer Tawil, oud, percussion; Carlo DeRosa, bass; Nasheet Waits, drums


Mohammed Fairouz (1985)

Meditation 1 (World Premiere)


“The Composer-Performer Conundrum”

Frank J. Oteri, Phillip Cheah, Trudy Chan, Errollyn Wallen, Amir ElSaffar, Mohammed Fairouz


Joan Tower (1938)

Ivory and Ebony (NY Premiere)

Emma Tahmiziàn, piano


Tania León (1943)


Emma Tahmiziàn, piano

¡Paisanos semos!


Ana Maria Rosado, guitar


Andrew Sterman (1958)

Language Games

Musical Chairs Ensemble: Tamara Keshecki, flute; Clarice Jensen, cello; Maria Antonia Garcia, piano


Anthony Korf (1951)

Trio (NY Premiere)

I. T.S.M.

II. Homecoming

Damocles Trio: Adam Kent, piano; Airi Yoshioka, violin; Sibylle Johner, cello


Arthur Kampela (1960)

Uma Faca Só Lâmina (A Knife All Blade) (NY Premiere)

Movements D-F

Momenta String Quartet: Emilie-Anne Gendron, violin; Asmira Woodward-Page, violin; Stephanie Griffin, viola; Michael Haas, cello


Huang Ruo (1976)

The Flag Project

Momenta String Quartet


“Ethnic Voices in a Global World”

Huang Ruo, Arthur Kampela, and Mohammed Fairouz


Shirish Korde (1945)

Tenderness of Cranes

Alice Jones, flute


Fred Patella (1957)

Thérèse Songs

(poems by St. Thérèse of Lisieux)

"Comment je veux aimer"

"Enfant, tu connais mon nom"

"Toi qui connais ma petitesse extreme"

Janet Steele, voice; Alison Deane, piano


David Del Tredici (1937)

The Happy Child from Miss Inez Sez

Janet Steele, voice; Alison Deane, piano


David Del Tredici

Ballad in Yellow

Alison Deane, piano


Charles Wuorinen (1938)

Piano Trio

Fidelio Trio: Darragh Morgan, violin; Robin Michael, cello; Mary Dullea, piano


Evan Ziporyn (1959)

Typical Music

I. Fast


II. Quarter note = 72-80

III. Quarter note = 90


Fidelio Trio


Waddy Thompson (1953)

Winter Morning By a Lake (World Premiere)

Cassatt Quartet: Muneko Otani, violin; Jennifer Leshnower, violin; Sarah Adams, viola; Nicole Johnson, cello


Daniel S. Godfrey (1949)

Ricordanza - Speranza

Ursula Oppens, piano; Cassatt Quartet


Matt Sullivan (1949)

Multiple Oneness

Matt Sullivan, oboe; Ken Cro-Ken, painter


Gustavo Casenave (1971)

Variations on a Piazzolla Theme

Bicho Feeling Home

Gustavo Casenave, piano


“A Life in Music," A Conversation with Gunther Schuller


Gunther Schuller (1925)

Nocturne for Horn and Piano

On Light Wings for piano quartet

I. Intersecting Triangles

II. Links

III. Arcs

IV. Wedges

Sonata-Fantasia for piano solo

I. Maestoso

II. Lento

III. Animato Tempestoso

Quintet for Horn and String Quartet (NY Premiere)

I. Moderato (Introduction)


III.Rondo: Allegro vive

Ensemble Pi: Karl Kramer, horn; Airi Yoshioka, Benjamin Kreith, violin; Ah-Ling Neu, viola; Clair Bryant, cello; Idith Meshulam, piano

+ About the Artists

Gustavo Casenave, born in Montevideo, Uruguay, graduated magna cum laude from the Berklee College of Music. His composition Fragiltimer for the Past Future was selected as one of the ten best original compositions coming out from Berklee in the last 30 years (1966-1996). He directs his own jazz ensembles, performing at venues such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Harris Theatre, Lincoln Center, Kodak Theatre, Centro de Bellas Artes de Caguas (Puerto Rico), KeepWalking Jazz Tour Festival (Uruguay), International Jazz Festival at Kempten (Germany), Graz Jazz Festival (Austria), and the Jackie Gleason Theatre (Miami). Casenave is currently a faculty member of the Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts where he teaches composition and Latin jazz piano.
Generally recognized as the father of the Neo-Romantic movement in music, David Del Tredici has received numerous awards (including the Pulitzer Prize) and has been commissioned by nearly every major American and European orchestral ensemble. Aaron Copland described Del Tredici as “a creator with a truly original gift…I know of no other composer of his generation who composes music of greater freshness and daring…” His works have been performed by the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, Atlanta Symphony and Chorus, National Symphony Orchestra, ASKO Ensemble, Lucy Shelton, David Krakauer, and the Orion String Quartet. Del Tredi is on faculty at The City College of New York.

Iraqi-American trumpeter, santour player, vocalist, and composer Amir ElSaffar moved to New York in 2000, where he has worked with musicians that incorporate their cultural backgrounds into a jazz context. He leads Safaafir, the only ensemble in the US performing Iraqi Maqam in its traditional format. He has also created new techniques for the trumpet that enable microtones and ornaments that are characteristic to Arabic music but are not typically heard on a trumpet. ElSaffar has been commissioned by the Jazz Gallery and Jerome Foundation, Painted Bride Arts Center, Festival of New Trumpet Music, Chamber Music America, and the Made in Chicago Festival.
Straddling Eastern and Western idioms, Mohammed Fairouz, one of the most frequently performed composers of his generation, has emerged as a force on the musical scene. His music has been received at venues such as Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Symphony Hall, the Kennedy Center and internationally throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. He has received commissions from Musicians for Harmony, Northeastern University, Imani Winds (Legacy Commission), Cygnus Ensemble, Counter)induction, Alea III, Alwan for the Arts, and the Second Instrumental Unit.

Daniel Strong Godfrey received B.A. and M.M. degrees from Yale University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He is Composer-in-Residence at Syracuse University. Godfrey has earned awards and commissions from the J. S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Koussevitzky Foundation, and Barlow Endowment. He is co-director of the Seal Bay Festival of American Chamber Music and co-author of Music Since 1945. Godfrey’s music has been performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic, Kansas City Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Ensemble X, and the Cassatt, Lark, Manhattan, and Portland string quartets.

Arthur Kampela is internationally recognized both as composer and virtuoso guitar player. He has received commissions and awards from the New York Philharmonic, Koussevitzky Foundation, Fromm Music Foundation, and the Rio Arte Foundation. His CD Epic... uses popular music forms deconstructing samba, jazz, and musical theater, with new music resources creating a true hybrid genre. Kampela received a doctorate in composition from Columbia University, studying with Mario Davidovsky and Fred Lerdahl. In many of his pieces, Kampela employs new extended techniques for acoustic instruments and micro-metric modulation -- a rhythmic system he devised (after Carter and Cowell) to bridge complex rhythmic relationships.

Shirish Korde’s musical language is characterized by the influences of diverse traditions ranging from the throat singers of Tuva and Vedic chanting of India, to Balinese Gamelan. His recent violin concerto, Svara-Yantra, a collaboration with virtuoso violinist, Joanna Kurkowicz, and master tabla player, Samir Chatterjee, was premiered by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. His works have been performed by the New Zealand Orchestra, Koszalin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Da Capo Chamber Players, Boston Philharmonic, and Boston Musica Viva.

Anthony Korf has undergraduate and masters degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. He has been commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, Koussevitsky Music Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Godard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Korf founded the contemporary chamber ensemble Parnassus and currently serves as Artistic Director and Composer-in-Residence for Riverside Symphony.

Tania León is highly regarded as a composer and conductor recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. Recent premieres include Esencia para Cuarteto de Cuerdas, commissioned by the Fromm Foundation for the Del Sol String Quartet; Ácana premiered by Orpheus at Carnegie Hall and the Purchase College Orchestra; and Ancients for 2 sopranos and mixed ensemble commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts for the Festival on the Hill. Recent awards include a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Ácana, Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Fromm Music Foundation commission. She is on faculty at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York.

Adam O’Farrill is the grandson of Afro-Cuban Jazz composer Chico O’Farrill and the son of Latin jazz pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill. He has had the privilege of playing at Birdland Jazz Club, CareFusion Jazz Festival, Jazz Standard, Mount Fuji Jazz Festival, the White House, Madison Square Garden, and Symphony Space, and has worked with Stefon Harris, Curtis Fuller, Randy Weston, Arturo O’Farrill, Benny Golson, and James Moody. He received the Outstanding Soloist Award at the 1st Annual Charles Mingus Competition, was commissioned to write a piece for Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra in 2009, and was chosen to participate in the 2010 GRAMMY Jazz Ensemble. He currently co-leads O’Farrills Brothers Band with his brother Zack.
ASCAP award-winning composer and music journalist Frank J. Oteri’s compositions have been performed in venues ranging from Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall to PONCHO Concert Hall in Seattle (where John Cage first prepared a piano). Works include: a sixth-tone rock band piece, Imagined Overtures, recorded by the Los Angeles Electric 8; a quartertone saxophone quartet, Fair and Balanced?, recorded by PRISM on innova; and MACHUNAS, a “performance oratorio in four colors” created with Lucio Pozzi and inspired by the life of Fluxus-founder George Maciunas, staged in Lithuania in 2005. Oteri serves as the American Music Center’s Composer Advocate and is the Founding Editor of its web magazine, NewMusicBox.

Fred Patella is a composer and piano technician whose services are in regular demand locally and whose consultations are sought after across the globe specializing on concert preparation, piano building, and the restoration of historic and art case pianos. A student of the late Samuel Barber, Fred fulfills a regular flow of commissions each year from soloists and ensembles with an emphasis on sacred music. In association with “Sing for Hope,” Fred also found, prepared, and maintained all of the 60 street pianos for this past summer’s installation in NYC and is currently preparing an even larger and more spectacular installation for the summer of 2011.

Huang Ruo’s vibrant musical voice draws inspiration from Chinese folk, Western avant-garde, rock, and jazz to create a seamless, organic integration using a compositional technique he calls “dimensionalism.” Ensembles that have performed his music include the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Asko Ensemble, and Dutch Vocal Laboratory. In 2003, Miller Theatre featured Huang Ruo on its Composer Portraits series. New York Times critic Allan Kozinn listed this concert in his “Top Ten Classical Moments of 2003.” Ruo’s teachers include Randolph Coleman and Samuel Adler. Ruo is currently on faculty at SUNY Purchase. He is the artistic director and conductor of Future In REverse (FIRE).

Gunther Schuller began his professional life as a horn player in both the jazz and classical worlds, working as readily with Miles Davis and Gil Evans as with Toscanini. He was principal horn of the Cincinnati Symphony and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. In the 1950s he began a conducting career focusing largely on contemporary music and was central in precipitating a new stylistic marriage between progressive factions of jazz and classical. As a composer, his music has been performed by the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, National Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Opera, Emerson Quartet, and Juilliard Quartet. Not to be overlooked are Schuller’s original jazz compositions such as Teardrop and Jumpin’ in the Future, works that epitomize the composer’s “Third Stream” approach.

Andrew Sterman’s music has been described as “beautiful and sensitive” (New York Times) and “a sound as pure as moonlight” (Australia’s The Age). In addition to presenting his original ensembles, he has performed with Frank Sinatra, Philip Glass, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, and Aretha Franklin and New York’s premier new music ensembles ISCM, EOS Orchestra, Bang On A Can, MATA, and the Philip Glass Ensemble. Equally committed to composed and improvised music, Sterman’s works contain traces of classic American song, contemporary composition, free-jazz, and world music.

Oboist Matt Sullivan began his career playing with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and went on to study with Carl Sonik, Ray Still, Marc Lifschey, Bert Lucarelli, and Ronald Roseman. His innovative compositions for oboe, English horn, and digital horn along with his performances and recordings have been featured on local and national radio stations. Sullivan’s solo performances include concerts with Cyndi Lauper at Carnegie Hall and the film Miller’s Crossing. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, The Library of Congress, the Palladium, Roulette, The Kitchen, and CBGB. He is on faculty at Chamber Music Northeast and is a member of Quintet of the Americas. Sullivan is Director of Double Reed Studies at NYU and a Performing Artist for Buffet Crampon.

Waddy Thompson’s works have been performed at the Spoleto Festival U.S.A., St. Louis Spring Festival, Chicago Festival of New Music, Florida New Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, Symphony Space, Joyce SoHo, and other venues. He was a student of Samuel Adler and Joseph Schwantner at the Eastman School of Music (B.M.) and of Carlisle Floyd and Allen Sapp at Florida State University (M.M. and D.M.).

Joan Tower’s works have been commissioned by the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir Quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, and David Shifrin; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC. Tower was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission for 65 orchestras. Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony’s recording of Made in America collected three Grammy awards. She became the first woman to win the Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders, a piece she wrote for the St. Louis Symphony where she was Composer-in-Residence from 1985-88. Other residencies include the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the Pittsburgh Symphony. Tower co-founded the Da Capo Chamber Players in 1969. She is currently on faculty at Bard College.

Errollyn Wallen is as respected as a singer-songwriter of pop influenced songs as she is a composer of contemporary new music. Her song “Daedalus” appears alongside songs by Björk, Sting, Elvis Costello, and Meredith Monk on the Brodsky Quartet’s recent CD Moodswings. Her multi-media show “Jordan Town,” a modern day song cycle with dance and film, was a sell-out hit at the Edinburgh Festival. She has been commissioned by Wigmore Hall, Dunedin Consort, Royal Opera House, Nitro, Push, Almeida Opera, and the Royal Ballet. Wallen’s latest large-scale work, Carbon 12: A Choral Symphony, is a Welsh National Opera commission for orchestra, soloists, choirs, and brass band.

Charles Wuorinen’s many honors include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the Pulitzer Prize (the youngest composer to receive the award). His newest works include Time Regained, for pianist Peter Serkin and the MET Opera Orchestra, Eighth Symphony for the Boston Symphony, and Fourth Piano Sonata for Anne-Marie McDermott. Upcoming projects include an opera on Annie Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain. Wuorinen has been described as a “maximalist,” writing music luxuriant with events, lyrical and expressive, strikingly dramatic. His works are characterized by powerful harmonies and elegant craftsmanship, offering at once a link to the music of the past and a vision of a rich musical future.

Evan Ziporyn is founder and Artistic Director of Gamelan Galak Tika and a member of the Bang On A Can All-Stars. He is the recipient of the 2007 USA Artists Walker Fellowship and the 2004 American Academy of Arts and Letters Goddard Lieberson Award. His music has been performed by Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, Kronos Quartet, Wu Man, American Composers Orchestra, Maya Beiser, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. His 2001 solo clarinet CD, This Is Not A Clarinet, made numerous Top Ten lists. He has also recorded Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint and the Grammy Award-winning Music for 18 Musicians. He is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Cassatt String Quartet has performed throughout North America, Europe, and the Far East, with prestigious appearances at Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, Tanglewood Music Theater, Kennedy Center, Library of Congress in Washington, DC, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, and Maeda Hall in Tokyo. World premieres include music by Hitomi Kaneko, Andy Teirstein, Laura Kaminsky, and Samuel Zyman. The Cassatt Quartet has recently offered mini-residencies at the Centro National de las Artes in Mexico City, University of Texas at Austin, and Vassar College. They are in residence at the Seal Bay Festival of Contemporary American Chamber Music and Hartwick College Summer Music Festival.

Trudy Chan has performed as pianist and harpsichordist on three continents. Originally from Hong Kong where she was staff accompanist for the Academy for Performing Arts, she performed with the HK Sinfonietta and DanceArt, in the HK Fringe Festival, and for Radio Television HK. She has participated in Italy’s Orvieto Musica. She has performed solo works by Frank J. Oteri in New York and Seattle, and appeared in Satie’s Pianoless Vexations. She has also performed for various ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards ceremonies at Lincoln Center and in the Sonos Chamber Orchestra. With vocalist Phillip Cheah, she performs an on-going series of themed art song recitals. Since 2004, she has also worked in the promotion department for Boosey & Hawkes.

Phillip Cheah is Music Director of the Central City Chorus and Guildsingers, a member of the Church of St. Luke in the Fields choir and the Bach Choir of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, and Staff Accompanist with The Brearley School. He is a co-founder of C4 Choral Composer/Conductor Collective. With the New York Choral Artists and the Concert Chorale of New York, Cheah has sung with the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. As a champion of contemporary music, he has performed the works of Milton Babbitt, John Eaton, Egil Hovland, James MacMillan, and Frank J. Oteri. Cheah regularly collaborates with pianist Trudy Chan in a series of unique programs showcasing his unusually large vocal range–a span of almost three and a half octaves–that “defies the laws of nature” (Time Out New York).

Ken Cro-Ken is a Manhattan based earthwork painter and videographer who creates his paintings in above and below freezing temperatures, high and low altitudes, and witnesses the power of natural creation using paint, rather than seeing the world and then going to the canvas. Cro-Ken sets a painting in motion to recreate the push-pull forces that shape and mold all things to create microscopic and satellite views of the earth and places scattered throughout the multiverse. Cro-Ken has exhibited his art and lectured in Boston, Pittsburgh, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington D.C., New Zealand, Austria, and Hungary. Other artwork and performances can be seen on

The Damocles Trio has performed throughout the USA, appearing numerous times at Alice Tully Hall, and completed highly successful tours of Switzerland. The trio has been featured frequently on “Young Artists Showcase” on WQXR radio. Recent performances have included recitals at BargeMusic, University of Maryland, Amarillo Chamber Music Society, Third Street Music School Settlement, Merkin Concert Hall, and the North River Music series. The trio also produced “Música por doquier” (“Hispanic Music Everywhere”) in 2004, a year-long festival in New York City including master classes, concerts, and premieres of newly commissioned works.

Alison Deane has performed extensively across the US, Canada, and Europe. A native New Yorker, she holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the Manhattan School of Music. She has performed solo recitals at Merkin Hall, Carnegie Hall, and Alice Tully Hall, chamber music at Avery Fisher Hall and the 92nd Street Y, and concerti with the National Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Deane was featured in a commercial spot for United Airlines titled “The Concert Pianist,” performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Since 1988, Alison Deane has served as Associate Professor of Music at the City College of New York and the CUNY Graduate Center.

Ensemble Pi has championed the work of contemporary composers by premiering over 50 works by American composers and commissioning works by Frederic Rzewski, Philip Miller, Alice Shields, Kristin Norderval, Karim Al-Zand, and Peter Ablinger. In 2003, Ensemble Pi began an ongoing collaboration with the American Composers Alliance, and has been the ensemble in residence at four American Music Festivals at Symphony Space. Ensemble Pi has presented a Peace Project–a multi-media event at the Cooper Union. The project’s goal is to make a space for a dialogue between ideas and music on the great issues of the day, through commissioning new works and collaborating with visual artists, writers, actors, and journalists.

The Fidelio Trio performs extremely diverse repertoire internationally. Since their South Bank debut, they have appeared at Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, Royal Opera House, Brighton Festival, West Cork Music, Belfast Festival, National Concert Hall in Dublin, Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre, Contemporaneamente Festival, and Palazzo Albrizzi in Venice. As advocates for the enormous range of possibilities the piano trio holds for composers, the Fidelio Trio’s extensive repertoire of premieres includes music by Salvatore Sciarrino, Edison Denisov, Beat Furrer, and Toru Takemitsu. Highlights of this year’s concert season include their US debut tour with additional appearances at SUNY New Paltz and MIT in Boston, a tour of South Africa and Botswana, a Moving on Music tour of Ireland, and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, as well as 3 CD releases. This performance marks their US debut.

Flutist Alice Jones graduated cum laude from Yale University and earned graduate degrees from SUNY Purchase. She is a recipient of an Enhanced Chancellor’s Fellowship at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she is a doctoral student of Tara Helen O’Connor. Equally passionate about performing, research, and teaching, she has won awards in baroque performance and musicology, has taught music history courses at SUNY Purchase, and maintains a private studio. Alice is a founding member of YUE (the Yale-China Music Exchange), an annual festival based in Huangshan, China that reaches both traditional audiences and Chinese citizens with little or no exposure to live concerts.

The Momenta Quartet has been described by Time Out New York as a “striking new-music quartet.” Along with over 40 world premieres, the ensemble’s repertoire includes classical standards, contemporary masterworks, and consort music of the Renaissance. Currently in its sixth year of residency at Temple University, the quartet has also performed and lectured at Cornell, Columbia, and Yeshiva Universities; Haverford, Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr Colleges; Boston and Brooklyn Conservatories; Mannes School of Music; and the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies. Momenta has also made its mark through innovative concert programs at Bargemusic, Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, Austrian Cultural Forum, the Stone, Issue Project Room, and Tonic.

Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble, described as “sonic perfection” and “breaking the rules to bring the love of classical music to the next generation” (Staten Island Advance), is the only local organization dedicated to cultivating audiences across Staten Island through residency projects, season series, recording activities, and composer-in-residence initiatives. MCCE is known for eclectic programs that stand classical alongside jazz and Broadway together with world music. MCCE’s concert season series on Saturdays is a collaborative effort with the Staten Island Museum.

Pianist Ursula Oppens has recently performed with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and in recitals for the Van Cliburn Foundation, Music Toronto, and Baylor University. In 2008, Ms. Oppens celebrated the 100th birthday of Elliott Carter with performances of his complete works for solo piano at the Boston Conservatory, Symphony Space, and San Francisco Performances, and with appearances at Ravinia, Tanglewood, and Merkin Hall. Her recording of these works received a GRAMMY nomination for best solo classical album. Oppens has commissioned and premiered works by Elliott Carter, John Harbison, Tania León, György Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Tobias Picker, Joan Tower, and Charles Wuorinen. She is currently on the faculty of Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center.

Guitarist Ana María Rosado has concertized throughout the US, Europe, Latin America, and the Far East. Prominent composers that have written works for her include Jorge Morel, Tania León, Laura Kaminsky, David Fetherolf, and Edmundo Vásquez. New York appearances have included performances at Merkin Hall, Town Hall, Weill Hall, and the New School. She has participated as performer and master class instructor at the Mannes Guitar Seminar, Inter-American Music Festival, Ibero-American Arts Festival, Guitar Festival in Puerto Rico, International Guitar Week in Denver, and the International Youth Music Festival in Bulgaria. Rosado currently is on faculty at the New Jersey City University. She has studied guitar with Juan Sorroche, Alberto Ponce, Sharon Isbin, and Jerry Willard.

Soprano Janet Steele has recorded the music of Milton Babbitt on the CRI label and “I am the Rose of Sharon” with the Western Wind on Nonesuch Records. She has performed in Carnegie Hall, and frequently performs with pianist Alison Deane. She is on the faculty of the City College of New York Music Department.

Pianist Emma Tahmiziàn’s international career was launched when, at 19, she won the Robert Schumann International Competition. A laureate of the Van Cliburn, Tchaikovsky, Leeds, and Montréal international competitions and a winner of the Pro Musicis international Award, Ms. Tahmiziàn has appeared as soloist with orchestras such as the Moscow, Leningrad, Halle Philharmonics, and East Berlin Symphony. In the US, she has performed at the Distinguished Artists Series at the 92nd Street Y, Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Jordan Hall, and LACMA. As a founding member of MOSAIC, she has taken part in the commissioning, performing and recording of works of composers such as Tania León, Steven Mackey, and Sebastian Currier.

Two Rivers is an ensemble dedicated to performing music composed by Amir ElSaffar that combines elements of traditional Iraqi maqam music with modern jazz. Consisting of renowned Arab and jazz musicians based in New York performing on Western and Middle Eastern instruments, the ensemble melds styles and creatively cross-pollinates the languages of disparate musical traditions. The group has performed extensively across the US in different formats, expanding to include as many as 17 musicians. The ensemble’s 2007 release, Two Rivers (Pi Recordings), was described by Jazz Times as “fresh, deep, intensely performed music…an organic amalgam” and by the Boston Globe as “ambitious and deftly executed,” and appeared on many top 10 CD lists of 2007.

+ About the Music

Though among my earliest compositions, the nurturing river, a song-cycle based on 14 sonnets by James R. Murphy for wide-ranged male voice and piano composed between 1981 and 1982, contains seeds for much of the music I have created since. As in all my subsequent vocal works, the music’s structures mirror words’ meanings and rhythms are derived from verbal inflections. Accompaniments for each song derive from a single interval which expands and then contracts during the cycle. The poems’ metrical irregularities are reflected in the music’s sometime indeterminate rhythms and ideally no two performances could ever be identical. –Frank J. Oteri

Inanna, commissioned by Chamber Music America, is named after the Ancient Sumerian goddess of carnal love and warfare. The work expands upon elements of microtonality found in the modes of the maqam tradition to create a modern harmonic language, while Iraqi folk and classical rhythms are recombined into longer rhythmic cycles. The lines between improvisation and composition are blurred in this music, as each performer is given specific melodies that are to be performed in a semi free manner within given parameters. –Amir ElSaffar

Meditation 1, written for the Two Rivers Ensemble, vacillates between tenderness and violence. Framed by two song-like sections, the middle section is a bold outcry on the contemporary Middle East. This piece represents my first musical collaboration with Amir ElSaffar.
–Mohammed Fairouz

Ritual: “After a languid, almost improvisatory introduction, Leon gradually builds up an ostinato pattern that leaps from the lowest note on the keyboard to its upper extremities. Again, the pulse is constant but the
accents are unpredictable; again, the dissonant harmonies are relatively statis: again, all the musical elements are subsumed by the savage, brutal rhythmic power. The piano-shaking ferocity of Ritual’s conclusion might suggest that Leon had some actual ceremony in mind, but she insists that the ritual she refers to is really her own rite of passage.” –Tania León

Paisanos Semos: A succession of passages of dynamic interplay between melodic phrases and poignant silences. The jagged rhythms create propulsion while the pauses, so prominent in this work move the expressive lines onto a contrasting ethereal plane. –Tania León

Bailarin’s melodic lines are interwoven with rhythms and chords propelled through rapid motions. The work is infused with textural layering and reminiscent of the musical gestures of the omnipresent guitar in Latin America. –Tania León

The title Language Games refers to the idea that language, no matter how serious, contains at best only reflections of real meaning. Somehow we understand each other anyway (more or less….) Each of the trio gets their turn at solo ‘speech’, and in combinations of two and three, sometimes playful, sometimes quite somber. It is an exploration of how music is, at times, the language of life itself, but not one which can be translated into the language of words. –Andrew Sterman

My Trio, written for The Damocles Trio, is grounded and driven by the pungent chordal phrase which announces it. This dirge-like utterance forms the basis of an expository passage in which phrases progressively expand while harmonies hint at the piece’s expressive future. Like the breaking of a fever, the tensions are relieved as the opening tempo gives way to a macabre, scherzo-like dance. The second movement begins at the apogee and makes its way inexorably home. A simple, monophonic theme in the strings set against a shimmering piano background is developed through more soloistic means. Eventually, the Trio’s originating theme begins to reassert itself with increasing force, hinting at a climax before—out of the blue—a strophic interlude in andante tempo presents itself. It’s really a decoy of sorts, circling the listener back to the movement’s opening measures, a new arrival signaling an imminent departure, to a locus in time where end and beginning meet as one. –Anthony Korf

Thérèse Songs. Although St. Therese of Lisieux’s (1873-1897) poetry was often used with musical accompaniment of varying sort during her lifetime, this is the first setting of poems by her as art song. The three songs represented on this program were selected among her collected poems for their particular lyricism and mystical depth. The 54 collected poems are the least known of Therese’s works which number over 260 including letters, prayers, and plays. However, religious scholars believe the poems are the most ardent written example of her spiritual genius.
–Fred Patella

Winter Morning by a Lake was inspired by the magical stillness of the lake and landscape near my home in winter and by the third movement of Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op.16, which originally carried the title “Farben: Sommermorgen am See.” I always loved Schoenberg’s shifting orchestral colors within relatively static harmony, and I wanted to accomplish a similar affect within the palette of the string quartet.
–Waddy Thompson

Ricordanza-Speranza was commissioned on behalf of the Cassatt String Quartet to celebrate its twentieth anniversary season. The work reflects an intense period of “looking back” and “looking forward,” as implied in the title (“recollection-hope”). The three movements are played without pause, and there is much in the music itself that looks forward or back to other parts of the work. More generally, this quintet was written in a state of mind where both memory and hope seemed elusive and at odds.
–Daniel S. Godfrey

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