Robert Paterson's Song Cycle Performed By American Modern Ensemble 3/1

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Composer Robert Paterson's song cycle, Stepping Into The Batter's Box, He Hears His Father's Voice will be performed by the American Modern Ensemble (the group founded by Paterson and his wife violinist Victoria Paterson), as part of their concert entitled Good Sports on Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 7pm at Galapagos Art Space (16 Main Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn).

The program, centered around a sports theme, also includes October 5, 1941 by Annie Gosfield, GRA by Elliott Carter, Football Season is Over by Stephen Gorbos, Dark and Stormy Night by Roger Zare, Triple Play by Meyer Kupferman, and Sprint by Rob Smith. The concert is dedicated to New York clarinetist Paul Garment, who died earlier this year.

Paterson's Stepping Into The Batter's Box, He Hears His Father's Voice will be performed by tenor Dimitri Pittas and pianist Blair McMillen. The piece was written in collaboration with poet Bridget Meeds and journalist Kenny Berkowitz, whose text is loosely based on the life of baseball giant Mike Piazza of the New York Mets. Each movement represents a different phase of the game, and thoughts of Piazza's father also tie the material together.

Paterson says, "I interpret this work as being less about Piazza the individual and more about the all-American baseball player. The Common musical thread through each movement is a tonally ambiguous whole tone scale."

In addition to Pittas and McMillen, AME players for this concert are Sato Moughalian, flute; Benjamin Fingland, clarinet; Meighan Stoops, clarinet; Jeremy Justeson, alto sax; Victoria Paterson, violin; Orlando Wells, viola; Wendy Sutter, cello; and Matthew Ward, percussion.

About Robert Paterson: Composer Robert Paterson's richly colorful, wildly eclectic and intensely rhythmic music is influenced by visual art, nature, machines, and more, and is inspired by everything from the changing seasons, crashing waves, and Dali's melting clocks to the life Mike Piazza. From 2009-2012, he is the Music Alive composer-in-residence with the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association, sponsored by Meet The Composer and the League of American Orchestras. The residency will culminate in a commission for a major new work for orchestra and chorus. Other recent honors include winning the Cincinnati Camerata Composition Competition, the Copland Award, Louisville Orchestra Composition Competition, Brian Israel Prize, two ASCAP Young Composer Awards, and grants from Meet The Composer, the American Music Center, the American Composers Forum and ASCAP, as well as fellowships to Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Born in 1970, Paterson was raised in Buffalo, New York, the son of a sculptor and a painter. Percussion was his first love, and an enduring one. Paterson pioneered the development of a six-mallet marimba technique presenting the world's first all six-mallet marimba recital at the Eastman School of Music in 1993. He discovered a passion for composition early in life as well, writing his first piece at age thirteen.

Recent and upcoming performances of Paterson's work include the European premiere and sixteen additional performances of Dancing Games by the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire (France); the premiere of a new work for the Vermont Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jaime Laredo; two new choral works for the Chamber Choir of Europe; an orchestral opera in two acts with writer and librettist David Cote, based on the award-winning British novel A Child Possessed by R.C. Hutchinson; Wind Quintet by the Philharmonia Quintet (Poland); Eternal Reflections, commissioned for the San Francisco-based Volti choir; Embracing the Wind by the Aureole Trio and New York Harp Trio; the Louisville Orchestra world premiere of Electric Lines, winner of the orchestra's new music competition, and a work previously selected for the Minnesota Orchestra and American Composers Orchestra New Music Readings; Enlightened City, commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the IHS Orchestra; and the world premiere of Crimson Earth by the University of Connecticut Wind Ensemble.

Ensembles that have performed Paterson's music include the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, New York New Music Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players, California EAR Unit, Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble, Ensemble Aleph (Paris), Naiades Ensemble (London), Ensemble Nouvelles Consonances (Belgium), the Kairos String Quartet, the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the MANCA Festival presented by the Centre National de Création Musicale (CIRM) and the June in Buffalo new music festival. Paterson appears on recordings for Mode Records, Centaur Records, Capstone, and Riax. In 2011, The Book of Goddesses won Paterson the Composer of the Year Award from the Classical Recording Foundation. It was released by American Modern Records, the label of American Modern Ensemble. Paterson has received degrees from Eastman (BM), Indiana University (MM), and Cornell University (DMA). For more information, www.robpaterson.com.

About Dimitri Pittas: Dimitri Pittas has appeared on leading opera stages throughout North America and Europe, including debuts with the Bavarian State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Canadian Opera Company. He is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and has been heard on the Met stage as Macduff in Macbeth, Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. His repertoire includes performances as Alfredo in La traviata, Rodolfo in La bohème, Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor and the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto. 

In the current season, Mr. Pittas makes his debut with the Canadian Opera Company as the Duke in a production by Christopher Alden. He returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Macduff and as Rodolfo in the famed Zeffirelli production of La bohème. He will be presented at Carnegie Hall at the annual recital of the Marilyn Horne Foundation. In the summer he returns to the Bavarian State Opera as Tebaldo in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi following performances of Verdi's Requiem with The Cleveland Orchestra. In the previous season, he made his debut for Royal Opera House Covent Garden in a new production of Macbeth, was heard as Edgardo with Houston Grand Opera and debuted as Tebaldo with the Bavarian State Opera. On the concert stage, Mr. Pittas has been heard in performances of Verdi's Requiem with the Pittsburgh Symphony under Manfred Honeck and with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony. He has been presented in recital by the Marilyn Horne Foundation at Carnegie Hall and at the St. Louis Art Museum. Other concert performances include Stars of Lyric Opera at Millenium Park, a gala concert in Tokyo, a gala concert for the Atlanta Opera, and a feature concert for Arts in Southold Town. For more information, www.dimitripittas.com.

About Blair McMillen: Blair McMillen has established himself as one of the most sought-after and versatile pianists today. His repertoire spans from late-medieval keyboard manuscripts to the 21st century. Recent performances include solo appearances with the American Symphony Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, the Albany Symphony, Juilliard Orcehstra, Miller Theatre, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Caramoor, CalArts, the Institute for Advanced Study, and "Music for the New Century" at Columbia University. His first CD, Soundings, featuring music of Debussy, Scriabin, Liszt, and Bolcom; was released to wide critical acclaim. Other recent solo recordings include Powerhouse Pianists on Lumiere, Concert Music of Fred Hersch on Naxos, and Multiplicities: Born in '38 on Centaur. Mr. McMillen recently made his Carnegie Hall debut as soloist, under the baton of David Robertson. Dedicated to new and groundbreaking projects, Blair McMillen is intensely committed to performing the music of today. He has premiered hundreds of pieces, and constantly works with both established and emerging composers in commissioning new works for the piano. Pianist for the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players, Mr. McMillen plays regularly with the downtown-NYC based Avian Orchestra, the Locrian Chamber Players, and the American Modern Ensemble, among others. He is a graduate of the Juilliard School, Oberlin College, and the Manhattan School of Music. An active educator, improviser, and self-taught jazz pianist, he serves on the faculty at Bard College and Conservatory. For more information, www.blairmcmillen.com.

About American Modern Ensemble: American Modern Ensemble (AME) is a dynamic, creative force in the American new music scene. Founded in New York City in 2005, AME performs the widest possible repertoire written by North, South and Central American composers. Incorporating the traditional and the cutting edge, stretching from the bawdy to the brilliant. With a world-class ensemble made up of some of NYC's finest musicians, AME has performed and premiered hundreds of works by living, American composers in venues ranging from the Times Center to Lincoln Center. AME is committed to connecting audiences with composers: 90% of composers whose work has been programmed by AME have attended the concerts, including John Luther Adams, Chen Yi, John Harbison, Aaron Jay Kernis, Steven Mackey, Marc Mellits, Paul Moravec, Peter Schikele, Steve Stucky, Joan Tower and David Del Tredici. AME has been generously supported by grants from a variety of organizations, including the Copland Foundation, NYSCA, the Hegardt Foundation, the Doctorow Foundation, New Music USA (formerly Meet The Composer and American Music Center), Wise Family Charitable Foundation, BMI, ASCAP, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and various private foundations. For more information, visit www.americanmodernensemble.org.

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