Ursula Oppens and Robert Levin Perform the Music of Bernard Rands at Symphony Space Tonight
Two distinguished American pianists-Ursula Oppens and Robert Levin-will team up to perform selections of piano works by the celebrated British-American composer Bernard Rands this evening, December 5th at 7:30 p.m. at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, New York, NY.
The concert, which will launch the recording release of Mr. Rands's Piano Music on Bridge Records, is part of Symphony Space's 'In the Salon' series, and will also feature conversations with Mr. Rands, Ms. Oppens, Mr. Levin, and Symphony Space's Artistic Director Laura Kaminsky, as well as a Q and A with the audience.
Rands: Tre Espressioni (1960) (Ursula Oppens) Preludes (2007) (Robert Levin)
2. Ostinato 3. Bordone 4. Elegia
Impromptu (2011) (Robert Levin)
Tickets are $32, $27 for members, $20 for 30 and under (with valid ID) and can be purchased by visiting www.symphonyspaceorg or by calling 212-864-5400.
Ursula Oppens has long been recognized as the leading champion of contemporary American piano music. In addition her original and perceptive readings of other music, old and new, have earned her a place among the elect of today's performing musicians.
In February Ms. Oppens will return to Symphony Space with the Cassatt Quartet to perform the world premiere of a piece by Tania Leon. Ms. Oppens will also perform, on February 14, with the JACK Quartet at the Library of Congress, and later in the year she will return to the Library of Congress to perform with cellist Fred Sherry. Other recital engagements will take Ms. Oppens to Portugal for the Festival de Mu?sica dos Ac?ores / Jazzores, and to Sa?o Paulo, Brazil.
Notable among Ms. Oppens' engagements for the 2012-13 season were solo performances and her participation with other distinguished musicians in a series of memorial concerts devoted to the music of the late Elliott Carter. In January Ms. Oppens devoted an entire program to the complete piano works of Carter at Symphony Space.
Also in January Ms. Oppens participated in an all-Carter program at Le Poisson Rouge with modernist luminaries cellist Fred Sherry, clarinetist Charles Neidich, violinist Rolf Schulte and singer Tony Arnold and the Ensemble LPR. In February she was also heard at the CUNY Graduate Center's Elebash Recital Hall in a Carter program where she played his Duo for Violin and Piano (1974) with violinist Rolf Schulte. On May 22, 2013 Ms. Oppens was heard at a Juilliasrd School Memorial concert at Juilliard's Peter Jay Sharp Theater celebrating in particular Carter's composition of more than 60 works after the age of 90. Ms. Oppens performed Carter's final work, Epigrams, with violinist Rolf Schulte and cellist Fred Sherry.
Ms. Oppens participated in the "Music of Now Marathon" at Symphony Space in New York, performing "Memo 5" by Bernard Rands, which Steve Smith of The New York Times found to be "a formidable strain of high modernism , expressed in in leaping intervals and tumultuous rhythmic bursts. Exulting in sheer technique, the rigorously wrought music sounded positively spontaneous, ... amiable and inviting " (February 6, 2013)
No During 2012-13 Ms. Oppens captured a Grammy Award nomination-her fourth to date-in the coveted category of "Best Classical Instrumental Solo" for the highly praised album Winging It: Piano Music of John Corigliano, released in April 2011 on Cedille Records. The disc features the world premiere recording of John Corigliano's work of the same name, which had its debut performance by Ms. Oppens at New York's Symphony Space in May 2009. Other works on the album, all by Mr. Corigliano, include Chiaroscuro (1997), Fantasia on an Ostinato (1985), Kaleidoscope for two pianos (1959), and Etude Fantasy (1976). Ms. Oppens is joined on the recording by veteran pianist Jerome Lowenthal for Kaleidoscope. Journalist Tom Huizenga from The Washington Post praised Ms. Oppens's interpretation: "Her rigorous, unforced performances again prove that few pianists of any era can claim a hold on contemporary piano music as she does" (August 2011).
Earlier Grammy nominations were for Oppens Plays Carter; a recording of the complete piano works of Elliott Carter for Cedille Records (which also was named a "Best of the Year" selection by The New York Times long-time music critic Allan Kozinn); her Piano Music of Our Time featuring compositions by John Adams, Elliott Carter, Julius Hemphill, and Conlon Nancarrow for the Music and Arts label, and her legendary cult classic The People United Will Never Be Defeated by Frederic Rzewski on Vanguard. Ms. Oppens recently added to her extensive discography by releasing a two-piano CD for Cedille Records devoted to Visions de l'Amen of Oliver Messiaen and Debussy's En blanc et noir performed with pianist Jerome Lowenthal.
The 2011-2012 season found Ms. Oppens appearing in recital at the House of Composers in St Petersburg, Russia with a program of Corigliano, Carter and Rzewski. She was also heard as soloist with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic conducted by Jeffery Meyer where she performed the world premiere of Laura Kaminsky's Piano Concerto, as well as Leonid Rezetdinov's Feuerwerk-Hana-Bi for piano and orchestra. During the 13th Festival Slowind 2011 at the Slovenska Filharmonija of Ljubljana (Slovenia) Ms. Oppens played works by Elliott Carter and Witold Lutoslawski. In February 2012, she performed Amy Williams's "Three Pieces for Piano," as part of the 8-hour Music of Now Marathon at Symphony Space. Other engagements included Mills College in Oakland (CA), and Pittsburgh (PA). In July 2012 Ms. Oppens also returned to the Music Mountain Festival in Falls Village (CT).
Over the years, Ms. Oppens has premiered works by such leading composers as Luciano Berio, William Bolcom, John Harbison, Julius Hemphill, Tania Leon, Gyo?rgy Ligeti, Witold Lutoslawski, Harold Meltzer, Conlon Nancarrow, Tobias Picker, Frederic Rzewski, Joan Tower, Amy Williams, Christian Wolff, Amnon Wolman, and Charles Wuorinen. As orchestral guest soloist Mr. Oppens has performed with virtually all of the world's major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, and the orchestras of Chicago, Cleveland, San Francisco and Milwaukee. Abroad, she has appeared with such ensembles as the Berlin Symphony, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Deutsche Symphonie, the Scottish BBC, and the London Philharmonic Orchestras. Ms. Oppens is also an avid chamber musician and has performed with the Arditti, Juilliard, Pacifica, and Rosetti quartets, among other chamber ensembles.
In October 2010, Ms. Oppens performed the New York premiere of Alvin Singleton's Blueskoncert with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall.
One of the most riveting experiences of Ms. Oppens's entire career came in Lisbon on April 25, 2011, the 37th anniversary of Portugal's Carnation Revolution which saw the overthrow of the authoritarian Estado Novo regime, when she caused a furor of approval by playing the Portugese national anthem as part of her performance of Frederic Rzewski's The People United Will Never Be Defeated.
Ursula Oppens is a Distinguished Professor of Music at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York in New York City, a position she took up in 2008 after serving as John Evans Distinguished Professor of Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL since 1994. Ms. Oppens lives in New York City.