On Saturday, Dec. 11, at 8 pm, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) kicks off a three-concert performance series at Wellesley College with "Luminous Noise: Three Women Compose," featuring works by Chen Yi, Judith Weir and Jenny Olivia Johnson, three of the most dynamic female composers creating new orchestral works today. The performance, held at Houghton Chapel, is free and open to the public.
The program begins with the world premiere of Wellesley College music professor Jenny Olivia Johnson's Living in Sin. Three works from Chinese composer Chen Yi – her witty Sparkle, ritual-laden Wu Yu and Suite for Cello and Chamber Winds, featuring David Russell on cello – are also featured. The evening ends with British composer Judith Weir's Tiger under the Table, a work The Boston Globe has called "cheeky, entertaining and truthful. It holds the mirror up to human nature and points to a better, more harmonious way."
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), the most prominent orchestra in the country devoted to playing 20th- and 21st-century orchestral music, is ensemble-in-residence at Wellesley College during the 2010-11 academic year. Subsequent public performances, scheduled for Jan. 29 and Apr. 14 at 8 pm, will feature the works of Bang on a Can, Wayne Peterson, Milton Babbitt and Wellesley Professor of Music Martin Brody.
ABOUT THE COMPOSERS
Jenny Olivia Johnson composes music that ranges from compressed 20-minute operas to epic pop songs to highly abstract religious masses. Her work is deeply influenced by minimalism, noise rock, '80s pop songs and vernacular television, and she also draws a great deal of inspiration from her academic work on synaesthesia, acoustic memory and childhood trauma. Johnson has collaborated with such artists and ensembles as ICE, Alarm Will Sound, Bang on a Can, as well as New York City Opera, which performed two of her short operas at their VOX Contemporary Opera festivals in 2006 and 2007. She is also a drummer, most recently active with the indie rock band RENMINBI. A Ph.D. graduate of NYU, she has been assistant professor of composition and theory at Wellesley College since fall 2009. For more, go to www.jennyoliviajohnson.com.
A prolific composer who blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries, Chen Yi is the 2001 recipient of the prestigious Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is the Cravens/Millsap/Missouri distinguished professor at the conservatory of the University of Missouri at Kansas City and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. She received bachelor's and master's degrees in music composition from the Central Conservatory in Beijing and a doctorate from Columbia University. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation at the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2006 she was appointed by the China Ministry of Education to the prestigious three-year Changjiang scholar visiting professor post at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music.
Britain's foremost female composer, Judith Weir's interests in narrative, folklore and theater have found expression in a broad range of musical invention. She is the composer and librettist of several widely performed operas whose diverse sources include Icelandic sagas, Chinese Yuan Dynasty drama and German Romanticism. Folk music from the British Isles and beyond has influenced an extensive series of string and piano compositions. For many years she has worked, in England and India, with storyteller Vayu Naidu and on film and music collaborations with director Margaret Williams. She spent some time as resident composer with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and has written music for the Boston Symphony, BBC Symphony and Minnesota Orchestras.
Founded by Artistic Director Gil Rose, BMOP is widely recognized as the premier orchestra in the United States dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing and recording new orchestral music. Since its inception in 1996, BMOP has commissioned new works and brought to the stage rediscovered "classics" of the 20th century, infusing them with the energy, imagination and passion that have been hallmarks of the modern era and its music.
THE CONCERT SERIES AT WELLESLEY COLLEGE
Orchestrated by the Department of Music, the Concert Series at Wellesley College brings a diverse array of world-class performers to campus, complementing the department's academic offerings and augmenting the cultural life of the college and surrounding community.
For more information about the Concert Series at Wellesley College, call Jennifer Ritvo Hughes, director of publicity and coordinator of the arts, at 781-283-2028 or visit the Music Department at http://web.wellesley.edu/web/Acad/Music.
Wellesley College is located at 106 Central St., Wellesley, Mass. Free parking is available in the Davis Parking Facility. Directions and a map of the campus are online at www.wellesley.edu/Admin/travel.html.