CONTACT! The New-Music Series, To Feature Music By Emerging Russian Composers
The ninth season of CONTACT!, the New York Philharmonic's new-music series, concludes with a co-presentation by the Philharmonic and National Sawdust in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, featuring Musicians from the New York Philharmonic performing works by emerging Russian composers: Dmitri Kourliandski's Voice-off, with vocalist Ethan Hayden in his Philharmonic debut, and the U.S. Premieres of Denis Khorov's Barcarolle, Marina Khorkova's VORderGRENZE, Alexander Khubeev's Ghost of Dystopia, conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky, and Nikolay Popov's Nibiru 20/13. Hosted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, the concert will take place on Monday, April 2, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at National Sawdust.
Composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen - who is in the third and final year of his tenure as The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic - continues his advisory role on CONTACT! in the 2017-18 season. Composer, writer, and deviser Gerard McBurney - a specialist in Russian and Soviet music and culture - served as consultant for this program.
Denis Khorov's Barcarolle (2016), for flute, clarinet, violin, and piano, is inspired by the same Arnold Bolkin painting upon which Rachmaninoff's symphonic poem Isle of the Dead is based. Mr. Korhov writes: "I've paid heed to the figure of the boatman. He's like a gondolier who's ferrying over souls from the 'alive' to the 'dead' shores, or vice versa. What song could this gondolier sing? I tried to record this song. The song of the gondolier is my Barcarolle." Denis Khorov is the leading researcher and head of creative projects at the Scriabin Memorial Museum and curator of the interdisciplinary media laboratory ScriabinLab. His music has been performed by the Radio Orpheus Symphony Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra conducted by Mikhail Pletnev, the New Music Studio ensemble of the Moscow Conservatory, and the Moscow Modern Music Ensemble (MASM).
Berlin-based composer Marina Khorkova's VORderGRENZE (2010), for clarinet, cello, and prepared piano, "explores sounds on the periphery of life: existential sounds on the border between life and death, represented by various breathing sounds that are sometimes amplified and sometimes translated into instrumental voices," according to the liner notes of the 2016 recording of the work on the Wergo label. "The main message of the piece is the struggle for the final breath, as expressed in sometimes extreme sonic gestures.... The sonic impression is merciless: groans, screams, and moans, as if the listener were caught in the terminal ward of a hospital - a sonic intensive-care unit." Marina Khorkova began her musical career on the piano, then studied composition at Moscow's Tchaikovsky Conservatory and at Stuttgart University of Music and the Performing Arts with Caspar Johannes Walter.
The title of Alexander Khubeev's Ghost of Dystopia (2014) alludes to Karl Marx's quote, "A ghost is haunting Europe - the ghost of communism." The work centers on the idea of dystopia, a common theme in 20th-century film and literature, but not one commonly explored in music. The score includes specific instructions for the construction of boxes that are connected to the conductor's pants, shirt, and gloves and produce sound when the conductor makes specific gestures. In addition, many of the instruments are prepared, for example with Styrofoam being placed on the string instruments. Winner of the 2015 Gaudeamus Prize, Alexander Khubeev has been coordinator of the International Academy of Young Composers in Tchaikovsky City since 2014.
Moscow-based composer Dmitri Kourliandski's Voice-off (2008), for solo voice, explores the inner workings of the human instrument itself. The composer writes: "The physiology of the voice, articulation, and breath apparatus serve as a material of this piece. The voice is treated as a complex composite organism: it is an ensemble piece rather than a solo one. Lips, teeth, tongue, throat, vocal chords - all are imagined as separate instruments forming an active dialogue, having separate parts, notated on separate staves in the score." Dmitri Kourliandski is founder and artistic director of the International Young Composers Academy in Tchaikovsky City, co-founder of the Structural Resistance Group (StRes), and music director of the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre, and he performs with sound artist Andrey Guryanov as the electronic open dance music duo KGXXX.
Composer, pedagogue, and researcher Nikolay Popov based his Nibiru 20/13 (2013), for strings, electronics, and video, on a mythical planet predicted to collide with Earth. "It passes close enough to Earth that it influenced our oceans, leading to devastating tsunamis, earthquakes, and new awaking of volcanoes around the world, changing the course of civilization." A member of the Union of Russian Composers and Creative Union of Russian Artists, Nikolay Popov is a research associate at the Moscow Conservatory's Center of Electroacoustic Music and music history and theory lecturer at The Russian Academy of Theatre Arts (GITIS).
Esa-Pekka Salonen's restless innovation drives him constantly to reposition classical music in the 21st century. He is currently the principal conductor and artistic advisor of London's Philharmonia Orchestra and the conductor laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This is his final of three seasons as The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic and his second of five as artist-in-association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. Additionally, Mr. Salonen is artistic director and co-founder of the annual Baltic Sea Festival, now in its 16th year, which invites celebrated artists to promote unity and ecological awareness among the countries around the Baltic Sea. He serves as an advisor to the Sync Project, a global initiative to harness the power of music for human health. Mr. Salonen's compositions move freely between contemporary idioms, combining intricacy and technical virtuosity with playful rhythmic and melodic innovations. The Los Angeles Philharmonic performs all of Mr. Salonen's concertos in February 2018, with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, pianist Yefim Bronfman, and violinist Leila Josefowicz - the musicians for whom the works were written. The Violin Concerto won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award and was featured in a 2014 international Apple ad campaign for iPad. The Barbican Centre in London has a season-long focus on Mr. Salonen's music, including the European Premiere of a new work for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia have experimented in groundbreaking ways to present music, with the first major virtual-reality production from a U.K. symphony orchestra; the award-winning RE-RITE and Universe of Sound installations, which have allowed people all over the world to conduct, play, and step inside the orchestra through audio and video projections; and The Orchestra, the much-hailed app for iPad that allows users unprecedented access to the internal workings of eight symphonic works. Esa-Pekka Salonen made his New York Philharmonic debut in December 1986 conducting the U.S. Premiere of Castiglioni's Sinfonia con giardino in addition to works by Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Nielsen; most recently, he led the Orchestra in a New York Premiere by Stravinsky, a U.S. Premiere by Tansy Davies co-commissioned by the Philharmonic, and music by Richard Strauss in April 2017. He will conclude his tenure as The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence in June 2018 conducting and hosting Foreign Bodies, a one-night-only multidisciplinary event that includes his work of the same name, accompanied by the World Premiere of a live video installation by Tal Rosner, and Obsidian Tear, a dance work choreographed by Wayne McGregor and set to Mr. Salonen's Nyx and Lachen verlernt.
Making his sixth appearance as part of the New York Philharmonic's CONTACT! series, American conductor Jeffrey Milarsky is acclaimed worldwide for his impeccable musicianship, exhilarating presence, and innovative programming. His repertoire ranges from J.S. Bach to Xenakis. In recent seasons he has worked with ensembles including the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony, MET Chamber Ensemble, Bergen Philharmonic, New World Symphony, and Tanglewood Festival orchestras. Mr. Milarsky has a long history of premiering, recording, and performing works by American composers, which was reflected in his recently receiving the prestigious Ditson Conductor's Award, established in 1945 and the oldest award honoring conductors for their commitment to the performance of American music (past honorees include Leonard Bernstein, Leopold Stokowski, and Alan Gilbert). A dedicated teacher, Jeffrey Milarsky is a senior lecturer in music at Columbia University, where he is the music director and conductor of the Columbia University Orchestra. In addition to conducting the Juilliard Orchestra, he is the music director of AXIOM, The Juilliard School's critically acclaimed contemporary-music ensemble, and serves on the conducting faculty.
Ethan Hayden is a composer, performer, and author based in America's Rust Belt. His acoustic, electronic, and vocal music has been performed at conferences and festivals around the world, most recently at Ljudbio (Uppsala, Sweden), INTIME (Coventry, United Kingdom), Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium (Toronto, Canada), and E-Poetry (Buenos Aires). Mr. Hayden received his master's and doctorate degrees in composition from the University at Buffalo. He also holds undergraduate degrees in composition and theory from the University of North Texas. His principal teachers have included Cort Lippe, Jeffrey Stadelman, Joseph Klein, Andrew May, and David Bithell. In 2015 Mr. Hayden joined the Digital Music Production faculty at Buffalo State College, where he teaches courses in electroacoustic music and directs the Interactive Synthesizer Orchestra. Ethan Hayden is the associate director of Wooden Cities, a Buffalo-based ensemble seeking to help increase the performance of contemporary music in Western New York. With Wooden Cities, he has co-produced more than 40 concerts featuring new and experimental music across the Midwest. He is also the technical director of Null Point, an initiative for new sound art which emphasizes works by emerging / overlooked artists. As a vocalist and trombonist, he regularly performs contemporary music, sound poetry, and improvisational works. Also active as a writer and researcher, Ethan Hayden is the author of Sigur Rós's ( ), published as part of Bloomsbury's 331?3 series in August 2014.
Gerard McBurney is a composer, writer, and deviser, with a specialist interest in Russian and Soviet music and culture. Born in the United Kingdom in 1954, he studied English literature at Cambridge University before moving to Moscow for post-graduate work in composition and orchestration at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. Returning to London, for many years he earned his living as a freelance broadcaster on radio and television, as well as by teaching at the Royal Academy of Music. He has also worked extensively as a composer of theater music. Between 2006 and 2016 Mr. McBurney lived in the United States, where he worked as artistic programming advisor for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and as creative director of Beyond the Score, a series of 30 live multimedia explorations of orchestral masterworks that have been filmed and viewed online more than half a million times. More recently, while based in London, he has joined the San Diego Symphony as artistic consultant. In May 2017 Mr. McBurney was creative partner at the Cincinnati May Festival, devising and directing semi-staged productions of Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius. In the field of Russian music, he is particularly known for his completions of lost and forgotten pieces by Shostakovich, including the 1931 music-hall show Hypothetically Murdered, the 1958 musical comedy Moscow Cheryomushki, and the unfinished operatic 1932 satire Orango, which was given its World Premiere by Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2011. Gerard McBurney's current work in the U.K. includes collaborations with London's Southbank and Barbican Centres, Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra, Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the 2018 BBC Proms concerts at the Royal Albert Hall.
About CONTACT!, the New York Philharmonic's New-Music Series
CONTACT! highlights the works of both emerging and established contemporary composers, performed by smaller ensembles of Philharmonic musicians in intimate venues outside the Lincoln Center campus. Since its inception in the 2009-10 season, CONTACT! has presented 23 World Premieres, including Matthias Pintscher's songs from Solomon's garden, Sean Shepherd's These Particular Circumstances, Carter's Three Controversies and a Conversation, and Dai Fujikura's Infinite String.
About National Sawdust
National Sawdust's mission is to build new audiences for classical and new music by providing outstanding resources and programmatic support to both emerging and established artists and composers. Centered on discovery within music, its programming introduces audiences to new artists and styles, and introduces artists to new audiences. An incubator for New Music, National Sawdust provides artists the space, time, and resources they need to create their art.