Composers who were born in China, studied music both in their homeland and in the U.S., and remained here to build their careers have become a distinct current within the chaotic ocean of 20th- and 21st-century American music.
Continuing its impressive scheduled releases of new music as well as of overlooked twentieth century works, Gil Rose's Boston Modern Orchestra Project has recently completed two new recordings, David Rakowski's Stolen Moments and Piano Concerto No.2 and Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts and Capital Capitals. Under its eight-year-old “BMOP/sound” independent record label, these two CDs are more evidence of the significant role of Rose in providing access to important contemporary compositions
The adventurous orchestral work Play by 37-year-old American composer Andrew Norman has earned the 2017 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, according to the University of Louisville, which distributes the $100,000 prize each year.
Norman is the second youngest recipient of the internationally recognized prize after British composer Thomas Ades, who won in 2000 and was born in 1971.
A rambunctious 45-minute orchestral piece called Play, by American composer Andrew Norman, has been named the winner of the 2017 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. The prize, which includes $100,000, was announced this evening by the University of Louisville, which sponsors the award. Former winners include Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Kaija Saariaho and Thomas Adès.
Play, a 47-minute orchestral work by American composer Andrew Norman, is the winner of the prestigious 2017 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.
In three movements, Play explores the relationship of choice and chance, free will and control. It investigates the ways musicians in an orchestra can play with, against, or apart from one another; and maps concepts from the world of video gaming onto traditional symphonic structures to tell a fractured narrative of power, manipulation, deceit and, ultimately, cooperation.
With a 50th recording now released on its own label, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project is as committed as ever to championing contemporary American composers, writes David Weininger.
With a thoughtful and absorbing tribute bringing four works by “American Masters,” the Boston Modern Orchestra Project opened its season at Jordan Hall on Saturday night. Founder and director Gil Rose celebrates the 20th year of this very active orchestra this year. The concert especially excited me for two reasons: seldom-heard orchestral works by four Americans, and a gesture in memory of Steven Stucky, who died unexpectedly earlier this year. Robert Kirzinger of the BSO gave an able and helpful talk about the music before the concert began.
David Del Tredici’s ambitious ‘Child Alice’ reveals a complicated vision.
The capacity crowd at Jordan Hall Friday night knew they were gathered for an Event. For only the second time, and probably the last time in his lifetime, composer David Del Tredici heard his complete Child Alice, the hugest and most elaborate of his many settings from Lewis Carroll’s Alice books. Thanks to the generosity of the Recording Industry’s Music Performance Trust Fund, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s superb show with soprano Courtenay Budd under the direction of Gil Rose was free.
Let’s say for the sake of context that I first became aware of the American composer David Del Tredici and his extensive string of extensive works based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice” fantasies through a 1983 recording of “In Memory of a Summer Day,” the first part of a larger work, “Child Alice” (1977-81). It’s fair to say that I’d been waiting three decades to hear “Child Alice” in full. The opportunity came at last on Friday in a concert presented at Jordan Hall by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project to conclude its 20th-anniversary season.
BOSTON — Cast your eye over the orchestral landscape, and the big picture could be seen as one of institutional malaise: deficits, labor strife, cowardly programming. All of which makes it imperative to celebrate those ensembles that, through luck, skill and diligence, pull off what the symphonic behemoths too rarely achieve: diverse repertoire and financial equilibrium.
It’s rare that I find much to enjoy in contemporary music but BMOP have provided me with two examples this month and Naxos with another. Chinary Ung was born in Cambodia and now works in the USA and his blend of East and West is very appealing. You don’t even have to get into the intricacies of the Buddhist philosophy which underlies much of his work to enjoy his music, though for me it’s an added bonus.
Regular readers will know how averse I am to the sort of avant-garde music which merely seeks to annoy old fogies like myself – if that’s the intention, it surely works – and how delighted I am to be able to welcome works by contemporary composers which are a joy to listen to. There’s the odd item here that I shall have to come to terms with but nothing that I find harder to absorb than, say, the music of Toru Takemitsu.
Lukas Foss’s four symphonies span most of the 20th Century. Foss made a reputation as a dabbler by midcentury, but in reality was essentially a neo-classicist of great gifts who was sidetracked by opportunistic avant-gardeism after he became Schoenberg’s replacement at UCLA. The symphonies represent the outer halves of his journey and bypass the unfortunate middle period. All of them are in the traditional four movements, and they are generally thoroughly tonal.
Youngish composer Mason Bates (b. 1977) has a directly visceral approach to composing for orchestra that makes his music in-demand on concert stages throughout the world. The Boston Modern Orchestral Project under Gil Rose has recorded an anthology of Bates' works on the recent album Mothership
Cambodian-born composer Chinary Ung shows us in his latest collection of orchestral works, Singing Inside Aura (BMOP/sound 1044), that he is a major figure on the modern music scene. His childhood was spent absorbing the traditional music of his homeland, including the extensive vocalizations found in a small village setting of his original home. By the time he came to the United States to study under Chou Wen-chung, he had also thoroughly immersed himself in the study of western music.
The latest in the Boston Modern Orchestra Project's composer portrait series focuses on Kati Agócs, a Guggenheim-winning Boston-based, Canadian-born composer of Hungarian and American descent. The cross-cultural angle plays strongly into her latest project for the omnivorous Boston Modern Orchestra Project, which hurtles themes of love and devotion through a particularly intense prism of influences and language.
Ever since the extravaganza of the YouTube Symphony’s premiere of Mason Bates’ Mothership at the Sydney Opera House in 2011, the piece has taken off (sorry), popping up in the programs of major orchestras across the US and abroad. Mothership is perhaps the most direct and largest-scale representation of Bates’ style as an ensemble composer, which blends contemporary American classical composition with jazz and electronic sounds. Its driving, grooving feel is positively addictive, like Short Ride in a Fast Machine seen through a smoky jazz/electronic kaleidoscope.
Le jeune compositeur américain Mason Bates (qui est aussi DJ) est l’un de ceux (avec John Adams) dont la musique est le plus souvent entendue dans les concerts symphoniques aux États-Unis, mais je ne crois pas qu’on l’ait jamais entendu chez nous… C’est donc encore une fois une excellente occasion que nous offrent le Boston Modern Orchestra Project et son chef Gil Rose de découvrir une partie de ce qui se fait aujourd’hui chez nous voisins du sud.
Mason Bates is, in my mind, one of the best and most promising younger generation American composers. His music is always refreshingly different with its reliance on a blend of electronic sound sources and live sampling plus traditional acoustical sources. He is not afraid to be just a little coy, humorous or shocking in his aesthetic, either, but always amazing!