Steven Mackey Co-Curates Tanglewood's Festival of Contemporary Music

The season is held this year from July 25-29.

By: Jun. 06, 2024
Steven Mackey Co-Curates Tanglewood's Festival of Contemporary Music
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Steven Mackey and Tania León have been named the Merwin Geffen, M.D. and Norman Solomon, M.D. Festival of Contemporary Music Directors for its 60th anniversary season, held this year from July 25-29. The Festival of Contemporary Music (FCM) programs feature the Tanglewood Music Center Fellows, which allows them the opportunity to explore new musical repertoire and work with living composers.   

The festival features several of Mackey’s chamber works including his string quartet One Red Rose, Afterlife for percussion quartet, Measuring for nonet, Sneaky March for solo piano, and his signature Physical Property for electric guitar and string quartet. Additionally, pianist Orli Shaham joins the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, the TMC conducting Fellows, and conductor Stefan Asbury for Mackey’s piano concerto Stumble to Grace. In addition to the Mackey works featured in the FCM, his concert opener Urban Ocean, celebrating the delicate and vibrant balance of life on land and sea, is performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons on July 26.

Mackey, who was himself a Tanglewood Fellow in 1984, states, “When Ed Gazouleas asked if I would co-curate with Tania León the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood this summer I was thrilled. It is an honor to be given the responsibility of selecting repertoire for a week of concerts at a prestigious, international festival.”

Along with works by Mackey and León, the festival showcases music by several contemporary composers: Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Valerie Coleman, Leila Adu-Gilmore, Marcos Balter, Lembit Beecher, Tyondai Braxton, Arthur Kampela, Dai Wei, Du Yun, Salina Fisher, Vijay Iyer, Nathalie Joachim, Miya Masaoka, Angélica Negrón, Niloufar Nourbakhsh, Nick DiBerardino, Ileana Perez Velazquez, T. J. Anderson, and Trevor Weston.

Mackey describes the programming process:  

“We began by looking at the repertoire of the past five years with the explicit idea that we were going to bring some voices that had not been recently heard at Tanglewood. That will include some composers for whom this will be an important early step in their emergence, but it also includes works by masterful composers such as Ellen Zwillich (the first female to win a Pulitzer Prize – 1983) that are due to be rediscovered.

“It is a great pleasure to work with Tania Leon who has been a friend for over 30 years. There was a huge overlap in our lists of composers we wanted to champion and consequently the repertoire was relatively easy to come by.”

In announcing the 2024 Tanglewood season earlier this year, Eunice and Julian Cohen BSO President and Chief Executive Officer Chad Smith stated: “As a former TMC Fellow, I couldn’t be happier to contribute to [TMC] history by welcoming our Music Director Andris Nelsons as Head of Conducting, introducing composers Tania León and Steven Mackey as curators of the Festival of Contemporary Music, and taking the first steps to bridge music and culture with our new Humanities Institute.”

Additional Boosey & Hawkes highlights at Tanglewood include selections from Ever Yours, a recent string quartet by Osvaldo Golijov, Anna Clyne’s Macbeth-inspired Sound and Fury, and Gabriela Ortiz’s La Calaca and Kauyumari, performed by The Knights and TMC Orchestra, respectively.



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