Musiqa to Present FROZEN TIME at Asia Society Texas Center, 1/11

Musiqa, winner of the 2013 Chamber Music America/American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music, presents its winter concert, Frozen Time, at the Asia Society Texas Center on Saturday, January 11, at 7:30 p.m.

The eclectic concert explores the interconnection between music, literature and photography, with a program that highlights new works by Musiqa composers and new work by the noted writer and poet Nick Flynn. For Musiqa's first collaboration with the Asia Society Texas Center, the concert also showcases a pair of works by composers from Eurasia.

Works by members of Musiqa's artistic board are featured, including a FotoFest-inspired world premiere by Marcus Maroney as well as Karim Al-Zand's lyrical Orange Torches Against the Rain, a song cycle set to poems by American poet Amy Lowell. Poignant works by Eurasian composers include Elena Firsova's Frozen Time and Lei Liang's Trio for Piano, Cello & Percussion. Expressing the literary side of the arts, writer Nick Flynn will read works specifically written for this program.

The concert's performers include Paul Cannon, double bass; Julia Cleworth, cello; Suzanne LeFevre, violin; Grant Loehnig, piano; Tali Morgulis, piano, Aidan Soder, mezzo-soprano, Nathaneal Udell, horn; Yung-Hsiang Wang, violin; Michael Webster, clarinet and Blake Wilkins, percussion.

Frozen Time is a collaboration presented by Musiqa, the Asia Society Texas Center and FotoFest.

Firsova was born in Leningrad into the family of physicists Oleg Firsov and Viktoria Lichko. She studied music in Moscow with Alexander Pirumov, Yuri Kholopov, Edison Denisov and Philip Herschkowitz. In 1979 she was blacklisted as one of the "Khrennikov's Seven" at the Sixth Congress of the Union of Soviet Composers for unapproved participation in some festivals of Soviet music in the West.

She has composed more than a hundred compositions in many different genres including chamber opera The Nightingale and the Rose after Oscar Wilde and Christina Rossetti (premiered in London in 1994), an orchestra work Augury, (premiered in 1992) that includes a choral setting of William Blake's famous lines 'To see the world in a grain of sand...' and Requiem to Anna Akhmatova's poem for soprano, chorus and orchestra (premiered in Berlin in September 2003).

Her favorite genre is a chamber cantata for solo voice and ensemble (or orchestra). Some of them are written to the poems by Alexander Pushkin, Marina Tsvetaeva, Boris Pasternak and Oleg Prokofiev. However, the most of them are setting the poems by her favorite poet Osip Mandelstam.

She has received commissions from many music festivals, orchestras and ensembles including the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Brodsky Quartet, Manchester Wind Orchestra, Schubert Ensemble, Freden Festival, BBC Proms and Expo 2000 (Hanover).

Chinese-born American composer Lei Liang (??, b. Nov. 28, 1972, Tianjin) is Associate Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego. He received his first piano lessons at the age of four, and began composing at age six. His piano teacher Zhou Guang-ren encouraged him to compose without formal training. He received several awards in China for composition and piano performance during childhood, including three honors in the Xinghai National Piano Music Competition, where his early piano music has been in the mandatory repertoire since 1984, and Second Prize for piano performance in the Jing-Jin-Sui competition (1988). In 1989, Beijing Qingnianbao-Beijing Youth Daily-named him one of its ten "Persons of the Year."

In 1990, Liang left his family for the USA as a high school student. He studied piano with William Race in Austin, Texas before shifting his focus to composition. He received degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music (BM & MM, both with academic honors and distinction in performance) and Harvard University (PhD).

Lei Liang received the George Whitefield Chadwick Medal-the honor the New England Conservatory bestows upon its most outstanding graduates-as well as the Tourjée Alumni Scholarship Award (both in 1996). He is the recipient of numerous prizes, fellowships and grants including an Aaron Copland Award (2008), ASCAPLUS Award (2008) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (2009). He is the recipient of the Elliott Carter Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome (2011), and the Alpert/Ragdale Prize in Music Composition (2012).

More On: Oscar Wilde, Christina Rossetti, William Blake, Boris Pasternak, George White, Aaron Copland, Ned Rorem, Morton Gould, St. Luke.

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by Peter Danish