Jennifer Koh with the New York Choral Society and Orchestra Performs the Premiere of THE SINGING ROOMS, 4/29
Violinist Jennifer Koh, known for her commanding, laser-focused performances and commitment to new repertoire, plays the New York premiere of Jennifer Higdon's The Singing Rooms, a large scale work for violin, chorus and orchestra with the New York Choral Society and Orchestra conducted by David Hayes at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.
Tickets are available online atwww.carnegiehall.org, by phone from CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800 or in person at the Carnegie Hall box office at 57th Street and 7th Avenue. The program will also include Gustav Holst's The Hymn of Jesus performed by the New York Choral Society.
Jennifer Higdon's The Singing Rooms was written for Ms. Koh and commissioned by a consortium of orchestras, including the Atlanta, Minnesota and Philadelphia orchestras. Ms. Koh premiered the work with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Philadelphia Singers Chorale led by Christoph Eschenbach in 2008, and her performance of The Singing Rooms with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Robert Spano, was recorded and released by Telarc in 2010. Ms. Koh's performance of the work has been called "brilliantly played" by Classics Today and the work has been described as "one of Higdon's best" byThe Philadelphia Inquirer.
The concept of The Singing Rooms as a work for violin and chorus was sparked by a request from Ms. Koh, after she and Ms. Higdon had previously collaborated on Sting Poetic, a sonata for violin and piano. A former English major with a strong interest in poetry, Ms. Koh first envisioned a work for simply violin and chorus, but the work expanded with the addition of a harp, then cellos, a chamber orchestra, and finally a full symphony orchestra, until the work ultimately combined two forms, violin concerto and oratorio.
"The Singing Rooms is a journey through rooms of sound and emotion. It's about integrating text and music," said Ms. Koh. "The violin is often used as the instrument that creates the sound palate and world within the text and, when playing, I think of recreating the sound and breath of the human voice. Jennifer's work weaves together the violin and voice seamlessly. She has created a piece that perfectly suits my sound and style because she knows me, and the way I play, so well."
The text is taken from a selection of poems by Jeanne Minahan, Chair of Liberal Arts at the Curtis Institute of Music, where Ms. Koh was a student and Ms. Higdon is on the composition faculty. Ms. Higdon describes The Singing Rooms as "a house where the violin sings, the choir sings, and the orchestra sings. Every room is its own sound world. Not an ordinary house, this is the house that we all inhabit; that of life. The beauty of poetry and music is that each person brings their own experience to these art forms, and each reader takes away the message of the poet, mixed with their own story ... but we all share these stories."
Jennifer Koh is passionate in her efforts to expand the violin repertoire and has established relationships with many composers active today, regularly commissioning and premiering new works. She has premiered works by composers Phil Cline, Mark Grey, Jennifer Higdon, Magnus Lindberg, Missy Mazzoli, Augusta Read Thomas, Charles Wuorinen and John Zorn, and in the coming seasons she will perform new works by Anna Clyne and Kaija Saariaho. She recently performed the U.S. premiere of Ms. Saariaho'sFrises for violin and electronics at Miller Theatre. Mr. Koh's future performances include "Ligeti Synergy," a video music project with filmmaker and video artist Tal Rosner, to be premiered in 2014; "Bridge to Beethoven," a series of recitals pairing Beethoven's violin sonatas with new works by Andrew Norman, Vijay Iyer and Anthony Cheung, to be launched in 2015; and Bach's complete Sonatas and Partitas in a staging by director Robert Wilson, to debut in 2016. This spring, she will perform works from her Two x Four project, which celebrates the relationship between teacher and student through music, with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and the Alabama Symphony. The Two x Four project comprises Ms. Koh and Jaime Laredo, her mentor and former teacher at the Curtis Institute of Music, performing works for two violins by four composers (the inspiration for the name Two x Four). These works are Bach's Double Concerto, Philip Glass's Echorus, Anna Clyne's Prince of Clouds (2012) and David Ludwig's Seasons Lost (2012). A recording of Two x Four will be released by Cedille on the day of the Carnegie Hall concert, Tuesday, April 29.