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Portals : A Multi-Media Exploration of Longing in the Digital Age
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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 09/24/2011 at Symphony Space.

Combining music with film, dance and spoken word, Portals explores the ways in which we communicate, and, through communication, find meaning in the digital age. In an era when our expressions of love and sorrow, of togetherness and longing—such private emotions—are sometimes displayed so publicly on the web, the potential for artistic communication through digital media is endless. The creative team and I set out to expand the boundaries of possibility in live performance whereby the performers and artists appear onscreen as if signing on (over Skype, iChat, etc.), each from his or her respective private space, interacting with each other as well as with me on stage. 

For example, at times one sees the performers readying themselves for performance, warming up, or just relaxing in their own private spaces, as if glimpsed by webcam. By contrast, at other times Nicholas and I meet in an imagined performance space which combines a feeling of an empty concert hall with a sound stage, (the empty chairs and pixilated projections) in which we perform together. Sometimes the two worlds collide and combine, as in Graceful Ghost, where we occasionally switch places, passing through these different worlds, real and imagined. Though we're not always face to face or feeling someone's touch or the warmth of their breath, we are deeply connected.

The creative team: I first got to know Philip Glass when I toured with his Book of Longing, a song cycle based on Leonard Cohen's poetry. There was a moment mid-show when the violin took center-stage for a fast and furious solo, "I Enjoyed the Laughter." I found it passionate and lyrical in a way that I hadn’t heard in Philip's music before, like J.S. Bach played backwards! Incidentally, 'Laughter" was only about 90 seconds long, but night after night, I kept coming off stage thinking, "That was amazing—I want a whole piece!" I think it was after a show in Wellington, NZ that I asked Philip to flesh out that solo, and here it is, a major work: Partita for Solo Violin.
 
On that Book of Longing tour, Leonard Cohen would join us now and then for performances. Leonard's poetry was an inspiration for me in creating Portals, and who can better express this feeling of deep yearning to connect as palpably as Cohen? Whether addressing an estranged wife, God, or Hank Williams, his words go straight to the heart of the matter with pathos and humor.
 
I first collaborated with Benjamin Millepied a few years back, on a piece for NY City Ballet called Double Aria. More recently, as we worked together on the movie Black Swan, my admiration for his sense of flow and space deepened, and I knew that he would be a great collaborator on Portals. I should say that all of the music on this program was composed for concert performance, but finding Philip's music not only aurally evocative, but visually as well, we were inspired to pair his music with visual movement. When we arrived at Copland House at Merestead to shoot the dance films, we were enchanted by this beautifully light, but slightly haunted, space, a uniquely metaphorical embodiment of the ephemeral nature of the internet and digital communication.
I first met Fred Child in the studios of Performance Today, but I really got to know him rafting on the Colorado River. Fred is in familiar territory as host and MC of Portals, presiding over the evening with his usual aplomb. I am also deeply indebted to Nicholas Britell, whom I have known for years, not only for his poetic and inspired performances in Portals, but also for all of his help and skillful hand in producing the audio tracks for Portals.  And finally, the wonderfully talented and imaginatively spontaneous Kate Hackett became an important partner in this project and helped immensely in the realization of my vision. 

My heartfelt thanks to them all!
Tim Fain

+ About the Artists

Avery Fisher Career Grant-winning violinist Tim Fain was selected as one of both Symphony and Strad magazine’s “Up-and-Coming” musicians, and was, most recently, seen on screen and heard on the soundtrack of the hit film Black Swan, and heard as the sound of Richard Gere’s violin in Fox Searchlight’s feature film Bee Season. Recipient of the Young Concert Artists International Award, he made his debuts with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Baltimore Symphony and appeared as soloist with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Mexico City Philharmonic, Cincinnati Chamber Symphony, Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and Curtis Symphony Orchestra at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, the Hague Philharmonic, among others. Equally at home in virtually all genres of music, he is a fervent champion of 20th and 21st century composers with a repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Corigliano. His recitals have taken him to the Ravinia Festival, Kennedy Center, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Boston’s Gardner Museum, Mexico’s Festival de Música de Cámera, Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, California’s Carmel Mozart Society, and New York’s 92nd Street Y.
 
He has collaborated with such luminaries as Pinchas Zukerman, Richard Goode, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Mitsuko Uchida, has appeared with the Mark Morris Dance Group, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and appeared onstage with the New York City Ballet in the acclaimed premiere of Benjamin Millepied’s Double Aria. He has also worked with jazz pianists Billy Childs and Ethan Iverson (The Bad Plus), guitarist Rich Robinson (Black Crowes), and appeared at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20). A sought-after chamber musician, he has toured with Musicians from Marlboro, appeared with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performed at the Spoleto, Ravinia, and Santa Fe Festivals and recently toured Europe in a duo-recital program with Philip Glass.
 
His debut CD, Arches, combines old and new solo works, and his disc of American short works, River of Light, was just released on Naxos. Tim Fain performs on a violin made by Franceso Gobetti, Venice 1717, the “Moller” on extended loan from Clement and Karen Arrison through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society of Chicago.
 
Benjamin Millepied embodies the grace and elegance of modern ballet. Famed both as a choreographer and dancer, Millepied is a principal at the New York City Ballet, as well as the acclaimed choreographer of pieces such as Closer, Sarabande, Casse-Noisette and the feature film Black Swan, among others. Millepied's work is often characterized by an awareness and respect for ballet's traditions, as well as pointed individuality. Collaborating with composers such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Nico Muhly, and David Lang, Millepied strives to create pieces that engage and delight contemporary audiences.
 
Born in Bordeaux, France, Benjamin Millepied began his career at the Conservatoire National de Lyon under Michel Rahn and made his first public appearance in 1992. After being mentored by Jerome Robbins, he was choreographer-in-residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York. In 2007, Millepied received the United States Artists Wynn Fellowship. In 2010, he was made Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.

Nicholas Britell is a pianist, film composer, and producer known for his integration of classical music, jazz, and hip-hop. Britell’s most recent film work has included writing music featured in the film New York, I Love You and in Natalie Portman's directorial debut short film, Eve (which brought attention to his piece Forgotten Waltz No. 2). He is currently finishing scores for three films: Plastic, directed by Andrew Baker, and Jack Riccobono's two films Rage for Sale and The Rib. These add to a diverse film repertoire that includes the scores to the indie feature Domino One and to the Sam Waterston-narrated documentary Hammer and Cycle. Britell’s career as a pianist began from a very young age, giving his first public recital at the age of 10 in Manhattan. A winner of multiple regional competitions and awards, he performed concerti by Beethoven and Schumann with orchestras before the age of 14. A student of the late Jane Carlson at the Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division, he has performed at venues including the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Juilliard, Steinway Hall, the Palace Theater, Harvard University’s Fogg Museum of Art and Signet Society, and at the Aspen Music Festival. In addition, Britell was the keyboardist in the hip-hop ensemble The Witness Protection Program. The WPP opened acts for hip-hop groups including Blackalicious and Jurassic 5 and performed at venues ranging from the Paradise Theater in Boston to New York’s classic Arlene’s Grocery. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard University, where he earned a degree in psychology with honors, and spent time doing independent study on film composition and on neuromusicology, the science of how music interacts with the brain.

Fred Child
is the host of American Public Media's Performance Today, the most-listened-to classical music radio show in America. Fred is also the commentator and announcer for Live from Lincoln Center and hosts NPR's Creators @ Carnegie. Before going to NPR, Fred was Music Director and Director of Cultural Programming at WNYC in New York, host of a live daily performance and interview program on WNYC, and for 10 years, a host at Oregon Public Broadcasting. In recent years, Fred has hosted a series of important live national concert broadcasts, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic's first ever concerts from Walt Disney Hall, the 2003 season-opening concert at Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonic live at Carnegie Hall, the New York Philharmonic's world premiere of John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls, the Last Night of the Proms from the Royal Albert Hall in London, New Year's concerts by the New York Philharmonic, Seiji Ozawa's final concert with the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood, and James Levine's debut as Music Director of the Boston Symphony. While growing up in Portland, Oregon, Fred studied classical piano. He also dabbles in guitar, percussion, and the bagpipes. His percussion band opened for the Grateful Dead at the Oakland Coliseum.

Kate Hackett is an independent filmmaker based in Los Angeles. A 2009 graduate of the UCLA Production/Directing program, Kate is the recipient of multiple awards for her short films as a writer/director, including the James Bridges Award, the Carole Fielding Award, the Deluxe Thesis Award, the FujiFilm Graduate Thesis Award, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Award for Excellence in Directing. Her first multi-media piece was a series of art films for the concert Ask Your Mama at the Hollywood Bowl, featuring The Roots and soprano Jessye Norman, which she co-directed with composer Laura Karpman. She also designed and directed films for The One-Ten Project, a new work commissioned by the Los Angeles Opera. Her work as a director and editor has been presented on CBS News, the Los Angeles Magazine website, the Carnegie Hall website, the PBS Newshour Website, and indieWIRE. She has edited two independent feature films, Homecoming, by director Sean Hackett, and Stealing Summers, by director David Martin-Porras.
 
Born and raised in San Jose, California, Craig Black, began dancing at age 10 with South Bay Dance Center. In 2007, as Captain of his nationally ranked dance team The Lincoln Convertibles, he won the title Mr. Dance of California through Dance Masters of America. Craig received his B.F.A. in Dance from The Juilliard School where he has performed works by Merce Cunningham, William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin, Twyla Tharp, Bronislava Nijinska, Stijn Celis, and Alexander Ekman. While attending Juilliard, Mr. Black has been fortunate enough to tour internationally to Germany and France and receive the 2010 Princess Grace Award in Dance. In his summers, Craig has attended Springboard Danse Montreal and Maximum Dance Course in Den Haag. Additionally, Craig has had the pleasure of performing works by Aszure Barton, Andrea Miller, Larry Keigwin, and Darrell Grand Moultrie.
 
Julia Eichten, dancer, is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School where she had the pleasure of performing a wide variety of works by world-renowned choreographers including Stijn Celis, Ohad Naharin, Alexander Ekman, Mark Morris, Paul Taylor, Jose Limón, Larry Keigwin, Ulysses Dove, and Benjamin Millepied. Julia had the opportunity to be a part of Camille A. Brown & Dancers at the Joyce Theater in 2010. She has attended Springboard Danse Montreal for the past two summers and had the opportunity to perform works by Victor Quijada, Johan Inger and Shannon Gillen. Julia recently was awarded the Hector Zaraspe award for choreography and has a yearning to continue choreographing along with performing.
 
Haylee Nichele, dancer, was born and raised in Port Alberni, British Columbia, Canada. At the age of 14 she started her intensive training at a professional non-profit arts school, Arts Umbrella (Vancouver, BC) where she had the opportunity to work with many Canadian choreographers such as Emily Molnar, Crystal Pite, and Shawn Hounsell. She continued her education, dance training, and outreach work at the Juilliard School where she worked with choreographers Alexander Ekman, Stijn Celis, Mark Morris, Benjamin Millepied, Merce Cunningham, Eliot Feld, Larry Keigwin, and Darrell Grand Moultire. Since entering Juilliard Haylee has begun her investigation as a young choreographer. In 2009 she had her first piece premiere in the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, with original composition by Jeremy Howard Beck. Over summer of 2010 she completed a commission for the Juilliard School. Her 7-show run of Until Then was well received this past April for Juilliard’s Senior Production, with original composition by Jeremy Howard Beck. Her works have been performed in New York, New Orleans, Vancouver B.C, and Nanaimo B.C.
 
Composer/pianist William Bolcom has received the Pulitzer Prize in Music for 12 New Etudes for Piano, the National Medal of Arts, and a Grammy for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and was named Musical America’s Composer of the Year in 2007. Recent premieres of his works include: The Hawthorn Tree, by mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle and members of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Romanza by violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and the New Century Chamber Orchestra, Prometheus by the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Chorale, and pianist Jeffrey Biegel, Speedgetsem by the Brass Band of Battle Creek, First Symphony for Band by the University of Michigan Symphony Band, Lucrezia, a one-act comic opera, by New York Festival of Song, Eighth Symphony by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus conducted by James Levine, and Canciones de Lorca by tenor Placido Domingo with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra for the opening of its new Hall in 2006. For over 35 years Bolcom has accompanied his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, on over two dozen recordings and in concerts of American popular songs as well as Cabaret Songs he composed for her with poet Arnold Weinstein, his collaborator for 45 years. Bolcom is retired from the University of Michigan where he taught composition from 1973-2008.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Philip Glass is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. In the early 1960s, Glass spent two years of intensive study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and while there, earned money by transcribing Ravi Shankar’s Indian music into Western notation. By 1974, Glass had a number of innovative projects, creating a large collection of new music for The Philip Glass Ensemble, and for the Mabou Mines Theater Company. This period culminated in Music in Twelve Parts, and the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach for which he collaborated with Robert Wilson. His scores have received Academy Award nominations (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) and a Golden Globe (The Truman Show). In the past few years several new works were unveiled, including Book of Longing (Luminato Festival) and an opera about the end of the Civil War entitled Appomattox (San Francisco Opera). The English National Opera, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Opera, performed Glass’ Satyagraha in 2007-08. Glass’ latest opera Kepler premiered with the Landestheater Linz, Austria in 2009 and he is currently working on an opera about Walt Disney that will premiere at the Teatro Real in Madrid in 2013. His Symphony No. 9 was completed in 2011 and will be premiered in Linz, Austria in January 1, 2012 by the Bruckner Orchestra with a U.S. premiere at Carnegie Hall on January 31, 2012 as part of the composer's 75th birthday celebration.

Aaron Jay Kernis received the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition and is among the youngest Pulitzer Prize winners. His music figures prominently on concert programs worldwide, and he has been commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestras, Walt Disney Company, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Renee Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Joshua Bell, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and Sharon Isbin. Recent and upcoming commissions include works for James Ehnes at the BBC Proms, Seattle Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and Big Ten Band Association, an Astral Artist collaboration, and Eighth Blackbird. A CD of his orchestral works by Hugh Wolff and the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra was a Grammy nominee and winner of France's Diapason d'or Palmares and was rereleased on Phoenix. His Goblin Market, recorded by The New Professionals was recently released by Signum, and an Arabesque CD features the Lark Quartet in his Pulitzer-Prize winning Quartet No. 2 (musica instrumentalis) and 1st Quartet.  He is director of the Minnesota Orchestra‘s Composer Institute, served as the orchestra’s New Music Advisor to for 10 years, and teaches composition at Yale School of Music, and was recently inducted to the Academy of Arts and Letters.  He has also appeared as conductor at major music festivals in Chicago and Portland, and has led members of the San Francisco Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and New York Philharmonic.

The music of New York–based composer Nico Muhly has been played by such ensembles as eighth blackbird, the Britten Sinfonia, the Chicago Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic, and sung by soloists including David Daniels, Mark Padmore, and Jessica Rivera. In addition to numerous recordings of his own music (available on Decca and Bedroom Community Records), he has collaborated on projects with Antony and the Johnsons, Bjork, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Grizzly Bear, Jonsi of Sigur Ros, and Teitur Lassen. His first opera, Two Boys, a co- commission by the Metropolitan Opera and the Lincoln Center Theater Opera/Theater Commissions Program, in a co-production with the English National Opera premiered in London in June 2011. His next opera, Dark Sisters, commissioned by the Gotham Chamber Opera, Music-Theatre Group, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia premieres in the Fall in New York City.
 
Composer Kevin Puts’ work has been commissioned and performed by orchestras in the United States and abroad such as the New York Philharmonic and the Tonhalle Orchestër (Zurich), and by leading soloists such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, percussionist Evelyn Glennie, and pianist Jeffrey Kahane. November 2011 will see the premiere of Silent Night, a full-length opera based on the 2005 film Joyeux Noel, commissioned by Minnesota Opera with libretto by Mark Campbell. Puts has received awards from the American Academy in Rome, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI, and ASCAP. He has served as Composer-in-Residence of Young Concerts Artists, California Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. He received his training as a composer and pianist at the Eastman School of Music and Yale University. Since 2006, he has been a member of the composition department at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore.
 
Lev Zhurbin (LJOVA) divides his time between performing as a violist in diverse groups ranging from his own, Ljova and the Kontraband, to string quartets, jazz combos, and Gypsy bands; studying and arranging music for Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet, Jay-Z, Gustavo Santaolalla, Osvaldo Golijov, Alondra de la Parra, and others; and composing original music for film, TV, dance, and the concert stage. He is the author of more than 70 compositions for classical, jazz, and folk ensembles, as well as scores to four feature films and over a dozen short films. With his main performing ensemble, Ljova and the Kontraband, he has appeared at Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York's Museum of Modern Art, Joe's Pub. The Ensemble released its acclaimed debut CD, Mnemosyne, in 2008, and Ljova released his acclaimed solo debut recording, Vjola: World on Four Strings, in 2006. Ljova is a graduate of The Juilliard School, where he was a pupil of Samuel Rhodes.

+ About the Music

William Bolcom: Graceful Ghost Rag

In the late 1960s a number of composers and I started writing piano rags, inspired by Scott Joplin and other period composers. When my father died in October 1970 I felt moved to write this rag and Graceful Ghost was his memorial. I have probably played it more often than any other piece; a tall blonde steamboat pilot, designer, and commercial artist, Lexie Palmore, heard it on the radio and decided it would be a perfect name for her new boat. If you go to Uncertain, Texas -- so named because no one was sure if the town belonged in Texas or Louisiana -- you can take a long, quiet, leisurely spin in the bayous of Caddo Lake, amid egrets, herons, and the occasional alligator as the red paddlewheel softly plies the water, slowly advancing the Graceful Ghost through the Spanish-moss-laden cypresses.
 
Philip Glass: Partita for Solo Violin

Partita for Solo Violin was completed by the Spring of 2011.  However, the origins of the work grew out of a writing/performing relationship that began with the Book of Longing (Phillip Glass/Leonard Cohen) in 2008.  At that time I was working with Tim Fain as one of the lead soloists and had completed a short solo work for him in the production.  We both enjoyed the work process together and, with very little coaxing from Tim, I agreed to undertake a longer solo work.  I chose the "Partita" as a form that would be familiar to an audience brought up on traditional, Central European art music.  It would be in a number of movements (seven in the final count) and would employ familiar types of music - dance, chaconnes, a prelude etc.  The first three movements were completed early in 2011 and the last four just last Spring.
--Philip Glass

Aaron Jay Kernis
: Air

Air is “a love letter to the violin.” Songlike and lyrical, it opens up a full range of the instrument’s expressive and poignant possibilities, featuring two main themes and an open, airy quality of harmony. The first theme poses questions and their responses, while the second is calm and still, rising ever-upward into the highest range of the violin. Following a middle section of dramatic intensity, the music develops the themes in reverse, and ends quietly after a final plaintive ascent.                                   

Nico Muhly: Honest Music

On the page, the violin part for Honest Music looks something like Terry Riley’s In C, insofar as it’s a collection of discrete, modular phrases to be recombined in “performance,” or in this case, by the electronic manipulation of the recording–but these aren’t Riley’s musical Lego blocks; most of these are long, expressive, idiomatic gestures, combining Nico Muhly’s soaring English-choirboy diatonicism with Romantic, violinistic leaps and slides up and down the fingerboard. As these figures pile on top of each other, the close-miked, aberrant fiddle timbre comes to seem, as per the title of the piece, brutally candid.

The other fragments, imitated in character by the sputtering harp and percussion of the accompaniment, sound more like scraps swept from a cutting-room floor somewhere – all false starts, warm-ups and afterbeats – and the glitchy, staticky noises in the background contribute to the sense of something rough, half-finished. The result is to suggest that all of Honest Music is an out-take, a rehearsal for another, wholly imaginary piece. But the gravity and authority of the harmonies (and the low drones) lend the makeshift nature of the piece an authentic drama in its own right: the sad beauty of things coming together and things falling apart.

Kevin Puts: Arches (2000)


In its alternation between “caprice” and “aria,” Arches moves between the poles of virtuosity and lyricism. The title was suggested by the symmetrical form of the piece (Caprice—Aria—Caprice) and by the key scheme which supports this symmetry and the many arch-like figures that arise. The only pause in the work occurs after the first Caprice.

In the first movement (Caprice), whose influences are both Baroque and Appalachian in nature, begins innocently enough and continually accelerates to a very fast tempo. It was inspired by a scene from the film The Red Violin (scored by John Corigliano) in which a young prodigy is pushed by his teacher to play an etude faster and faster until he is pressed to the absolute limit. As a means of contrast to the busy first movement, the middle section (Aria) begins very high and soft. It uses a soaring melody to which I later added piano to create and encore (Aria for violin and piano). The last movement (Caprice) is the first music I came up with, when composing Arches. This movement features the arpeggiando technique which involves the violinist moving the bow quickly up and down over all four strings of the instrument, and leads to a return of the material from the first movement and a very virtuosic ending.
 
Lev Zhurbin: Sicilienne (2000)

Sicilienne was inspired by namesake within the Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet by Ernest Chausson. I sketched it while aboard a Long Island Railroad train, and aimed to create a lilting, peaceful and romantic dance in imperceptibly changing meters. For reasons unclear to me, the beginning melody and piano writing is very Brahmsian, while the middle section is more affected by the music of Aaron Copland. I'm not sure how this marriage came to be, and perhaps it's not for me to know.

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