Music and Conversation with Glass, Prestini, and Zorn at National Sawdust's Bridging the Gap
Composer Robert Sirota is curating a new season-long series at National Sawdust (80 N 6th St). Titled Bridging the Gap, the series features concerts of chamber, choral, and solo works which Sirota has crafted to explore the student/teacher, mentor/mentee relationships between generations of composers. The concerts, all held on Sundays, include performances of works by both younger composers and the teachers who have influenced their development. Each concert is preceded by a discussion with composer mentors, mentees, and performers, led by a distinguished thought leader.
The next Bridging the Gap concert is Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 7pm and will feature music by composers Philip Glass, Paola Prestini, and John Zorn interspersed with conversations between the composers and moderator, National Sawdust's Log Journal editor, Steve Smith. The program will include Philip Glass' Songs and Poems for solo cello and Paola Prestini's Labyrinth for cello and electronics performed by cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, as well as John Zorn's Diableries performed by Zeigler, electric bassist Trevor Dunn, and percussionist Ches Smith.
Through performance and conversation, the Bridging the Gap series looks at the evolution of musical styles and approaches over the last 20-40 years, asking and answering questions such as: How has the music changed? From what aesthetic values and sound worlds are new works emerging? What are the roles of academic vs. non-academic influences? How are younger composers learning from their teachers, and vice versa?
Upcoming Bridging the Gap Performances:
About Robert Sirota: Over four decades, composer Robert Sirota has developed a distinctive voice, clearly discernible in all of his work - whether symphonic, choral, stage, or chamber music. The New York Times has described his style as, "fashioned with the clean, angular melodies, tart harmonies, lively syncopations and punchy accents of American Neo-Classicism," and writes, "Thick, astringent chromatic harmonies come in tightly bound chords to create nervous sonorities. Yet the textures are always lucid; details come through." His extensive work as a teacher and administrator has given him a unique perspective on the interactions between generations of composers. Before becoming Director of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in 1995, he served as Chairman of the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions at New York University and Director of Boston University's School of Music. From 2005-2012, he was the President of Manhattan School of Music, where he was also a member of the composition faculty.
Robert Sirota's chamber works have been performed by the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society; Sequitur; Sandbox Percussion; Yale Camerata; yMusic; TACTUS Ensemble; Chameleon Arts Ensemble; New Hudson Saxophone Quartet; Left Bank Concert Society; Dinosaur Annex; the Chiara, American, Ethel, Elmyr, and Blair String Quartets; the Peabody, Concord, and Webster Trios; and the Fischer Duo, and at festivals such as the Tanglewood, Aspen, Yellow Barn, Cooperstown, and Bowdoin's Gamper Festival. Orchestral performances include the Seattle, Vermont, Virginia, East Texas, Lincoln (Neb), Meridian (Miss), New Haven, Greater Bridgeport, Oradea (Romania) and Saint Petersburg (Russia) symphonies, as well as conservatory orchestras of Oberlin, Peabody, Manhattan School of Music, Toronto, and Singapore.
Sirota's liturgical works include three major commissions for the American Guild of Organists: In the Fullness of Time, a concerto for organ and orchestra, Mass for chorus, organ and percussion, and Apparitions for organ and string quartet, as well as works for solo organ, organ and cello, and organ and piano.
Highlights of Sirota's 2016-2017 season include the world premiere performances of Sirota's second string quartet, American Pilgrimage, by the American String Quartet; creating and curating the Bridging the Gap series at National Sawdust in Brooklyn; a commission by the Naumburg Foundation to compose a new chamber work; as well as two other major commissions: Three Nocturnes, for Alarm Will Sound and A Call for the Battle to Cease, a work for orchestra, chorus and piano commissioned by Concert Artists of Baltimore, which will be premiered at their 30th Anniversary Gala with pianist Simone Dinnerstein as soloist. Sirota's passion as an educator is reflected in his schedule of university seminars and residencies, most recently at schools such as the Peabody Institute, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and New World School of the Arts at Miami Dade College.
Recipient of grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the United States Information Agency, National Endowment for the Arts, Meet The Composer, and the American Music Center, Sirota is recorded on the Capstone, Albany, New Voice and Gasparo labels. His music is published by Muzzy Ridge Music, Schott, Music Associates of New York, MorningStar, Theodore Presser, and To the Fore.
A native New Yorker, Sirota's compositional training began at the Juilliard School; he received his bachelor's degree in piano and composition from the Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied with Joseph Wood and Richard Hoffman. A Thomas J. Watson Fellowship allowed him to study and concertize in Paris, where his principal teacher was Nadia Boulanger. Returning to America, Sirota earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University, studying with Earl Kim and Leon Kirchner.
Sirota makes his home in New York and in Searsmont, Maine, with his wife, Episcopal priest and organist Victoria Sirota, Priest-in-Charge at St. John's Episcopal Church, Getty Square, Yonkers. For the Sirotas, music is a family affair. They frequently collaborate on new works, with Victoria as librettist and performer, at times also working with their two children, Jonah and Nadia, both world-class violists. In his spare time, Sirota is an amateur painter and often depicts the landscape around Muzzy Ridge and Levenseller Mountain near his home in Maine. For more information, visit www.robertsirota.com.