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Sleeping Around: Virgil Thomson + Friends At The Chelsea Hotel
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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 05/08/2014 at Symphony Space.

Music director/pianist Jed Distler leads a special cast who bring to life the Bohemian, cultured, often-gay, and always musical world of Virgil Thomson-a Chelsea hotel resident of half a century. Works by Thomson, Copland, Wheeler, Busby, and Lou Harrison are included on this evenings program. Featuring special guests - composers Gerald Busby & Scott Wheeler, and music critic Tim Page.


Kamala Sankaram, soprano

Julie Rosenfeld, violin

Jed Distler, piano

In collaboration with The Virgil Thomson Foundation.


Part of the Sleeping Around Festival.





Virgil Thomson (1896-1989)

Gerald Busby: Giving Full Attention (1981)

Scott Wheeler: Free-Wheeling (1981)

Señorita Juanita de Medina accompanied by her mother (1928)

Miss Gertrude Stein as a Young Girl (1928)

Karen Brown Waltuck: Intensely Two (1981)

Prelude and Fugue: A Portrait of Miss Agnes Rindge (1935)


Lou Harrison (1917-2003)

Grand Duo for violin & piano (1988)

1. Moderato 

3. A Round


Gerald Busby (b. 1935)

Orpheus (2006, texts by Keith Waldrop)


Virgil Thomson (1896-1989)

Solitude: A Portrait of Lous Harrison (1945)

Tango lullaby: a portrait of Mademoiselle Alvarez de Toledo (1940)


Scott Wheeler (b. 1952)

How Many Miles to Babylon?, from the opera "Democracy" (1998, texts by Romulus Linney)

Oriole & Keeping the Sabbath, from "Sunday Songs (1999, texts by Emily Dickinson)


Virgil Thomson (1896-1989)

Madame Marthe-Marthine (1928)

Cliquet-Pleyel (1928)

Henri Sauget: From Life (1928)

Homage to Marya Freund and to The Harp (1956)

John Houseman: A Double Take (1984)


Aaron Copland (1900-1990)

Hoe-Down, from "Rodeo" (1942)


Panel discussion: Portraits of Virgil, with composers Gerald Busby & Scott Wheeler and music critic Tim Page.

+ About the Artists

Gerald Busby, a native of Texas, graduate of Yale, and protégé of Virgil Thomson, is best known for his film score for Robert Altman’s 3 Women, an international cult classic included in the Criterion Collection of Classic Films. His dance score for Paul Taylor’s Runes has had more than 1,000 performances around the world since its premier in Paris and was featured on PBS Great Performances, Dance in America. With Craig Lucas, Gerald wrote the opera Orpheus in Love. Gerald has written more than 400 concert works in all genres including 17 string quartets, and they have been performed and recorded by distinguished international musicians. The National Endowment for the Arts, The Virgil Thomson Foundation, The Aaron Copland Foundation, The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, The Æ Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The deKay Foundation, Dartington International School of Music (UK), Yaddo, and The MacDowell Foundation have all acknowledged Gerald’s artistry. Commissions have come from such diverse sources as Speculum Musicae, The Joffrey Ballet, Richard Daniels (Dances for an iPhone), and Les Percussions de Strasbourg. Besides composing, Gerald has acted in films – Robert Altman’s A Wedding, Cliff Robertson’s The Pilot, and Abel Ferrara’s Chelsea on the Rocks. A feature-length documentary of Gerald’s life directed by Jessica Robinson is in production. Gerald has an archive in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. 20th Century Fox Pictures has just granted Gerald and Craig permission to create an opera based on the film 3 Women


Called “an altogether extraordinary pianist” by the Newark Star Ledger, “the Downtown Keyboard Magus” in The New Yorker, and “a witty, genial and adventurous pianist and composer” in The New York Times, Jed Distler has premiered works by Frederic Rzewski, Simeon ten Holt, Richard Rodney Bennett, Lois V Vierk, Alvin Curran, Virgil Thomson, Andrew Thomas and Virko Baley, among many others. As a recitalist, Jed has given new music programs across the United States and Europe from the Ravello Festival to New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. In 2012 Jed launched a solo piano project encompassing jazz icon Thelonious Monk’s complete songs in a single concert, and has performed it in New York, Las Vegas, Berkeley and Berlin. His solo CD Meditate with the Masters is available on the Musical Concepts label.

Along with recent commissions from Symphony Space, IonSound, Make Music New York, and Steinway & Sons, new music luminaries like Margaret Leng Tan, Guy Livingston, and Quattro Mani have recorded Jed’s works. String Quartet No. 1 (the Mister Softee Variations) remains an annual summertime NPR tradition. In 2012 Jed’s presenting organization ComposersCollaborative, inc. (who co-produced the 1996 marathon world premier of Thomson’s complete musical portraits with the New School) received a coveted ASCAP Deems Taylor award. His 2013 composition Broken Record for 175 electronic keyboards helped earn the Guinness Book record for world’s largest keyboard ensemble. He also arranged and transcribed music for Jean-Yves Thibaudet’s Decca release Conversations with Bill Evans, as well as two CDs of Art Tatum transcriptions played by Steven Mayer. Upcoming projects include his co-producing In (Key) - New Compositions in Celebration of Terry Riley's In C @ 50 Years - for Make Music New York, plus pianist Lara Downes’ Steinway & Sons label recording of Jed’s virtuoso concert arrangements based on songs associated with Billie Holiday.

Jed taught at Sarah Lawrence College for more than 20 years, directing music for their theater department. He guest hosts Q2/New York Public Radio’s keyboard show Hammered! He also has held recent guest composing/teaching residencies at Colorado College and the University of Nevada/Las Vegas, and is the recipient of awards and fellowships from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, American Composers Forum and the MacDowell Colony. For more information about Jed’s rich musical life, visit and


Tim Page is a professor in both the Annenberg School of Journalism and the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. He won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1997 for his writings about music in The Washington Post, where he has held the position of chief classical music critic on and off from 1995 to 2008. Prior to coming to the Post, he served as the chief music critic for Newsday and as a music and cultural writer for The New York Times. During his years in New York, he was the host of an afternoon program on WNYC-FM that broadcast interviews with hundreds of composers and musicians, including Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Dizzy Gillespie, Philip Glass, Meredith Monk and Steve Reich. An interview with Glenn Gould, comparing the pianist's two versions of Bach's Goldberg Variations, was released as part of a three-CD set entitled A State of Wonder in 2002 that became a surprise best-seller.

His books include The Glenn Gould Reader, (Alfred A. Knopf, 1984), Selected Letters of Virgil Thomson (Summit, 1988), William Kapell: A Documentary Life History of the American Pianist (IPAM, 1992), Music From The Road: Views and Reviews 1978 - 1992, an anthology of previously published work (Oxford University Press, 1992), Dawn Powell: A Biography (1998), The Unknown Sigrid Undset (Steerforth, 2001), Tim Page on Music (Amadeus Press, 2002), What's God Got To Do With It?: Robert Ingersoll on Free Thought, Honest Talk and the Separation of Church and State (Steerforth, 2005) and Parallel Play. Library of America will issue a collection of the criticism of Virgil Thomson, edited by Page, this fall.  


Violinist Julie Rosenfeld is an artist of great depth and passion. As the First Violinist of the Colorado Quartet, winner of both the First Banff International String Quartet Competition and the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, she played more than 1200 concerts, touring throughout every part of the United States and Canada, and in more than 20 other countries. Their recordings of both standard and contemporary repertoire (most recently the complete Quartets of Beethoven) garnered praise from critics far and wide, as has their championing of many of today’s leading composers such as Karel Husa, Joan Tower, Richard Wernick, Katherine Hoover, George Tsontakis, Laura Kaminsky, and Libby Larsen. The members of the Colorado Quartet founded and administered the Soundfest Festival and Institute of String Quartets beginning in 1991 in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and was the Quartet-in-Residence at Bard College from 2000 until 2009.  They held residencies at Oberlin, Swarthmore, and Amherst Colleges, and have given master classes at the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Eastman School, and at Yale University.

Beginning in the Fall of 2014, Ms. Rosenfeld will join the faculty of the University of Missouri School of Music, and become a member of the Esterhazy String Quartet, in residence there. From 2009 until 2013, Ms. Rosenfeld was Assistant Professor of Violin at the University of Connecticut and prior to that time she was a Visiting Professor of Music at Bard College. A native of Los Angeles, she attended the Curtis Institute and received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California, and her Master of Music from Yale University, studying with such eminent teachers as Szymon Goldberg, Nathan Milstein, Robert Mann, and Yukiko Kamei. She has performed at the Marlboro, Santa Fe, Newport and La Jolla Chamber Music Festivals and has appeared as a guest artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She collaborated with André Previn on the West Coast premiere of his Violin Sonata and on two CDs of French chamber music for BMG Classics.


Kamala Sankaram has been hailed as "an impassioned soprano with blazing high notes" (Wall Street Journal). She has performed with and premiered pieces by Anthony Braxton, Beth Morrison Projects, the Philip Glass Ensemble, the Wooster Group, and John Zorn, among others. She is currently the frontwoman of world music ensemble Bombay Rickey, and appears regularly with Opera on Tap’s New Brew. Upcoming, she will premiere Masterpieces, a new opera by Petr Kotik, in the Ostrava Opera Festival. Also a composer, Kamala is the recipient of a Jonathan Larson Award from the American Theater Wing. Grants: National Endowment for the Arts, MAP Fund, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Meet the Composer, and the Asian Women’s Giving Circle. Residencies: HERE Arts Center, the MacDowell Colony, the Watermill Center, Con-Edison/ Exploring the Metropolis and the Hermitage. She is currently a composer- in-residence with American Lyric Theater.


Scott Wheeler’s most recent opera commission is Naga, on a libretto of Cerise Jacobs, co-commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects and Boston Lyric Opera. Wheeler’s previous operas have been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Other current and recent commissions include 200 Dreams from Captivity for baritone and orchestra on texts of Wang Dan, and works for Boston Cecilia, Rockport Music, and the Barlow Foundation. In recent seasons, Wheeler’s works have been performed in Boston, Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Austria, Italy, Panama, Winnipeg, Hong Kong and Beijing. 

A new recording of Wheeler’s orchestral music will soon be released under the title Crazy Weather, with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project conducted by Gil Rose and released by BMOP Sound. Wheeler’s songs for voice and piano and his opera The Construction of Boston are available on Naxos; his chamber music for strings and piano is available on Newport Classic. Scott Wheeler is the 2014 winner of the Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston.

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