Robert Sirota Premieres Violin Sonata No. 2, 4/12
Violinist Laurie Carney and pianist David Friend will give the world premiere of Robert Sirota's Violin Sonata No. 2 as part of a free concert at the Manhattan School of Music's Greenfield Hall (120 Claremont Ave.) on Tuesday, April 2 at 7:30pm. Sirota wrote the sonata for Carney, a founding member of the American String Quartet (ASQ), and dedicated it to their mothers who both passed away recently. The concert will also include Brahms' Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 in A Major; Messiaen's Theme and Variations; and Faure's Piano Quartet in C Minor with violist Daniel Avshalomov (also of the ASQ) and cellist William Grubb (Carney's husband).
Of his new sonata, Robert Sirota says, "Over just the past year, I have been privileged to compose two sonatas for violin and piano. The first, commissioned by violinist Hyeyung Julie Yoon, second violinist of the Chiara Quartet, received its premiere last September. Hyeyung had asked me to compose a work in memory of her grandfather who had recently died. While completing that work I was asked by Laurie Carney, second violinist of the American String Quartet, to compose a second violin sonata. As I was working on Laurie's piece, within weeks of each other this fall, both her mother and my mother passed away. Where the Sonata No. 1, based on the Latin hymn Pange Lingua, is triumphant and celebratory, the Sonata No. 2, which I have subtitled Farewell, is imbued with a sense of the personal loss and grief that both Laurie and I are experiencing. I have dedicated this work to our mothers."
A founding member of the American String Quartet, Laurie Carney holds the distinction of performing quartets longer than any woman in this elite field. The ASQ began concertizing while she was still an undergraduate at Juilliard. Her regular collaborations include trios with her husband, cellist William Grubb, and pianist Anton Nel; duos with Guarneri Quartet violist Michael Tree; and as an ensemble partner to such artists as Isaac Stern, Pinchas Zukerman, Salvatore Accardo, Cho-Liang Lin, Joshua Bell, Yefim Bronfman, Misha Dichter, Ralph Kirshbaum, Alain Meunier and Frederica von Stade. Carney's concerto appearances include performing Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante with the Bournemouth Symphony, Basque National Orchestra and the Welsh National Orchestra. She was featured in the American premiere of Giampaolo Bracali's Fantasia, a sonata for violin and piano. A faculty artist at the Aspen Music Festival and School since 1974 and the Manhattan School of Music since 1984, Carney has held teaching positions at the Mannes College of Music, Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, University of Nebraska, University of Michigan, Shepherd School at Rice University and the Taos School of Music. Her dedication to the development of young players brings frequent invitations to offer master classes, most recently in California, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan and New Mexico. Carney is a member of a prodigious musical family: her father was a trumpeter and educator, her mother a concert pianist, and all three siblings are professional violinists.
Robert Sirota's work has been performed throughout the United States and abroad, at venues including Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall in New York, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the Yellow Barn Music Festival, Benaroya Hall in Seattle, and at The Juilliard School, the Shepherd School of Music, Peabody, Oberlin Conservatory, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore, Royal Conservatory in Toronto, and the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. His commissions include works for the Empire Brass, American Guild of Organists, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, the Fischer Duo, the Peabody Trio, the Webster Trio, and the Chiara String Quartet.
Robert Sirota's catalogue comprises three short operas, a full-length music theatre piece, as well as orchestral, symphonic band, chamber and recital works. His 1999 work for organ and orchestra, In the Fullness of Time, has been performed several times by the Seattle Symphony, as well as by the Lincoln Symphony in Nebraska, the Meridian Symphony in Mississippi, and the Oberlin Orchestra. His chamber music has entered the repertoire of several leading ensembles: Triptych (2002) - which commemorates the victims of September 11th and is inspired by the visual art of Deborah Patterson - is often played by the Chiara and American String Quartets; his Piano Trio (1998) has been performed multiple times by the Peabody Trio, the Concord Trio, and many others; and A Sinner's Diary for flute, two violas, cello, percussion and piano, completed in 2005, has already received several performances. His music has been recorded by the Fischer Duo for the Gasparo label, and by the Chiara String Quartet for their New Voice Singles series.
Robert Sirota has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the United States Information Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet The Composer, and the American Music Center. Among his awards are a First Prize in the Long Island Composers Alliance Competition and the Andrew White Medal from Loyola College in Baltimore.
A native New Yorker, Mr. Sirota received his earliest compositional training at The Juilliard School, and received his bachelor's degree in piano and composition from 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, Mr. Sirota earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University, studying with Earl Kim and Leon Kirchner.
Before becoming Director of The Johns Hopkins University's prestigious Peabody Institute in 1995, Sirota 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 the Manhattan School of Music in New York, where he was also a member of the School's composition faculty.