Premiere Commission Hosts Gala Celebration At Le Poisson Rouge 2/13

Premiere Commission Hosts Gala Celebration At Le Poisson Rouge 2/13

On Monday, February 13 at 7:30pm, Premiere Commission will mark its 10th anniversary with a Gala Celebration at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker Street, NYC). Pianist and Premiere Commission Artistic Director Bruce Levingston will give the world premiere of composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa’s Rondolette, a piano quintet, with acclaimed string quartet Brooklyn Rider (Colin Jacobsen, violin; Johnny Gandelsman, violin; Nicholas Cords, viola; Eric Jacobsen, cello). Bielawa will also perform with Brooklyn Rider in her own work for string quartet and soprano, Graffiti dell'amante, and works by Henry Purcell.

In addition, the Gala concert will include the world premieres of Night by Augusta Gross and South by Southwest by Christopher Tignor; performances of William Bolcom’s New York Lights, John Corigliano’s Circa 1909, and Alfred Schnittke’s Silent Night with choreography by John Heginbotham and dancers from The Mark Morris Company; as well as music by Franz Liszt and Franz Schubert. Pianist Kimball Gallagher and Christopher Tignor will join Levingston, Bielawa, and Brooklyn Rider on the stage.

The evening will feature a special tribute for Lisa Bielawa, who is being recognized by Premiere Commission for her “consistent and inspiring high level of composition as well as her sustained advocacy for new music.” In honor of her work, Premiere Commission has arranged that a portion of the evening's proceeds go to support her large-scale new project in Berlin, Tempelhof Broadcast – a spatialized symphony for hundreds of musicians that uses the tarmac of Berlin’s Tempelhof Airfield as a vast musical canvas. For more information, visit

Founded in 2001, Premiere Commission, Inc. is a non-profit foundation that promotes the commissions and premieres of new compositions by some of today's most talented and thoughtful artists. Under the artistic leadership of its founder, pianist Bruce Levingston, the organization seeks to explore and develop the work of emerging as well as established composers and artists from different mediums. To date, the organization has commissioned over 40 new works.

Lisa Bielawa and Bruce Levingston share a musical friendship that began in 2004, when Levingston first heard Bielawa’s music performed by violinist Colin Jacobsen (of Brooklyn Rider and The Knights). Levingston was so impressed that when he programmed a gala concert at Lincoln Center two years later in honor of his organization’s fifth anniversary, he turned to Bielawa for a major new work to present as a premiere on the program. The resulting half-hour song cycle with violin interludes entitled The Lay of the Love and Death, commissioned with support from the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation, brought together a number of people who have had important influences on the lives of Bielawa and Levingston. Alexandra Montano, a highly regarded mezzo-soprano who had many recording and performances to her credit, performed on the program together with Bielawa, Levingston, Jacobsen, Ethan Hawke, and Philip Glass (a friend and collaborator of both Bielawa and Levingston). The following year, Montano tragically lost her life to cancer. Levingston commissioned a beautiful elegy from Bielawa in her memory – the result was Portrait-Elegy, which is included on Levingston’s recent Sono Luminus album Heart Shadow. In intertwining these multiple layers of their lives, Bielawa has sought to celebrate the many friendships and relationships that have nurtured her art. In turn, performers such as Levingston and Jacobsen whose playing and artistry have been a regular inspiration for Bielawa’s work, have regularly championed her music to great acclaim.

About Lisa Bielawa: Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition. She takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. 

Born in San Francisco into a musical family, Lisa Bielawa played the violin and piano, sang, and wrote music from early childhood. She moved to New York two weeks after receiving her B.A. in Literature in 1990 from Yale University, and became an active participant in New York musical life. She began touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992, and in 1997 co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers.

Lisa Bielawa’s music is frequently performed throughout the US, and in Paris, Italy, the UK and Rome. Recent highlights included the world premieres of Graffiti dell’amante performed by Bielawa with the Brooklyn Rider string quartet in Rome and Harrisburg; Emerald Waltz in Boston; Portrait-Elegy, written for pianist Bruce Levingston, in New York; The Project of Collecting Clouds at Town Hall in Seattle by cellist Joshua Roman and chamber ensemble; the world premieres of Double Violin Concerto and In medias res by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), part of Bielawa’s three-year Music Alive residency with that orchestra; the premiere of The Right Weather by the American Composers Orchestra and pianist Andrew Armstrong at Carnegie Hall; and the premiere of The Lay of the Love and Death at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Bielawa’s work, Chance Encounter, a piece comprising songs and arias constructed of speech overheard in transient public spaces, has been performed by soprano Susan Narucki and The Knights in Seward Park in Lower Manhattan and at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, in Vancouver, on the banks of the Tiber River in Italy, as part of the opening of the celebrated new MAXXI Museum in Rome, and in Venice.