Onassis Cultural Center NY to Highlight Composer Giorgos Koumendakis in Two Concerts, Begin. Today

Onassis Cultural Center NY to Highlight Composer Giorgos Koumendakis in Two Concerts, Begin. Today

The Onassis Cultural Center NY will present two concerts in its Fall 2013 Cultural Series Program highlighting the music of one of Greece's most important contemporary composers, Giorgos Koumendakis, whose eclectic works have ranged from chamber pieces to the music for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. The concerts will bring Koumendakis together with Steven Mackey, one of the outstanding American composers of his generation, providing fresh insights into both of their musical worlds. The concerts will be held at Princeton University tonight, October 14 at 7:30 p.m. and at Carnegie Hall tomorrow, October 15 at 7:30 p.m.

These performances will build on the success of Koumendakis's previous collaborations with pianist George Emmanuel Lazaridis and the PRISM Saxophone Quartet. The program will include the American premiere of excerpts from Koumendakis's Mediterranean Desert for solo piano (2002), as well as Typewriter Tune (2006), which the PRISM Saxophone Quartet introduced in Philadelphia in 2011. The program will also include Mackey's Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (commissioned by PRISM in 2004). Rounding out the program will be Modest Musorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition performed by Lazaridis, who will be returning to Carnegie Hall for the first time since his debut recital in November 2006.

The presenter of the two programs, the Onassis Cultural Center NY, promotes Hellenic culture in the United States through programs that range from exhibitions of ancient, Byzantine, and contemporary art to public conversations on the relevance of Greek thought to today's issues. Since its establishment in 2001, the Center has organized more than 100 cultural events, including recent concerts by the Artis-Quartet Vienna and Janis Vakarelis, En Chordais, and Estoudiantina.

About the Composers:

Giorgos Koumendakis (b. 1959) first attained European recognition in 1985, when his Symmolpa 4 was performed at the Venice Biennale and György Ligeti commissioned his Symmolpa 5 for the European Community Youth Orchestra. He began collaborating with the Ensemble InterContemporain in 1987, received the premiere of his opera There Will Be a Day in 1990 from the Oslo Sinfonietta and in 1992 won the Prix de Rome. He is perhaps best known internationally as the composer for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Koumendakis's works have been heard at major venues including the Salle Olivier Messiaen, Teatro La Fenice, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Concertgebouw, Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, and Auditorio Nacional de Música (Madrid), performed by artists and ensembles including the Beijing Symphony Orchestra and Tan Lihua, the Ensemble InterContemporain, conductor Mathias Bamert, the Oslo Sinfonietta and Christian Eggen, the Xenakis Ensemble, and the Kronos Quartet (which commissioned Koumendakis's Point of No Return in 2008). Koumendakis is currently working on The Murderess, a new opera commissioned by the Greek National Opera, based on the novel by Alexandros Papadiamantis.

Steven Mackey (b. 1956) is regarded as one of the leading composers of his generation and has composed for orchestra, chamber ensembles, dance and opera. Mackey's orchestral music has been performed by major orchestras around the world, from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco and Chicago Symphonies, the BBC Philharmonic, Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Austrian Radio Symphony to the Sydney Symphony and Tokyo Philharmonic. As a guitarist, Mackey has performed his chamber music with the Kronos Quartet, Arditti Quartet, London Sinfonietta, Nexttime Ensemble (Parma), Psappha (Manchester), and Joey BaroN. Mackey has been honored by numerous awards including a Grammy, several awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim fellowship, Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center Friedheim award and many others. He has been the composer-in-residence at major music festivals, including Tanglewood, Aspen and the Holland Festival. Mackey is currently Professor of Music and chair of the Department of Music at Princeton University, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1985.

About the Performers:

PRISM Saxophone Quartet
The PRISM Saxophone Quartet is considered one of America's foremost chamber ensembles. Two-time winners of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, PRISM has performed in Carnegie Hall in the Making Music Series, in Alice Tully Hall with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and throughout Latin America under the auspices of the United States Information Agency. PRISM has been presented to critical acclaim as soloists with the Detroit Symphony and Cleveland Orchestra, and conducted residencies at the nation's leading conservatories, including the Curtis Institute of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory. The quartet has commissioned over 150 works, many by internationally celebrated composers, including Pulitzer Prize-winners William Bolcom, Jennifer Higdon, Zhou Long, and Bernard Rands; Guggenheim Fellows Steven Mackey, William Albright, Martin Bresnick, Chen Yi, and Lee Hyla. PRISM's discography is extensive, documenting more than sixty works commissioned by the Quartet on Albany, innova, Koch, Naxos, New Dynamic, and New Focus.

George Emmanuel Lazaridis
Born in Greece, Lazaridis' flourishing international career has led him to perform in prestigious venues worldwide, including the Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw, the St. Petersburg Philharmonia Hall, and the Palais des Beaux Arts amongst many others, performing with leading orchestras, such as the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Hamburg Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, the Strasbourg Philharmonic, the Warsaw Symphony, the Munich Symphony, the Athens Camerata and the Wiener Kammer Orchester, under the musical direction of conductors such as Neville Marriner, Yuri Temirkanov and Ingo Metzmacher. His appearances have received critical acclaim from audiences and critics alike, who recognize him as one of the finest pianists of his generation, and his recordings have been compared to those of keyboard giants such as Horowitz, Argerich and Richter. As a composer, Lazaridis has received commissions from the Greek Ministry of Culture, the Europa Cantat International Festival and the Birmingham New Arts Festival amongst many others. Alongside his performing career, Lazaridis is co-founder of various cultural organizations and currently holds the position of Artistic Director at the Thessaloniki Concert Halls Organization, The Megaron.

Program Information:

Monday, October 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Princeton University, McAlpin Rehearsal Hall, Woolworth Center (Princeton, NJ)
Organized in collaboration with the Department of Music and Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, Princeton University

Tuesday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
(Seventh Avenue between 56th and 57th Street), New York City

PRISM Saxophone Quartet
George Emmanuel Lazaridis, piano

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, Steven Mackey (performed in its original version for saxophone quartet)
Typewriter Tune for saxophone quartet, Giorgos Koumendakis
Mediterranean Desert (excerpts) for solo piano, Giorgos Koumendakis (American premiere)
Pictures at an Exhibition for solo piano, Modest Petrovich Musorgsky

Tickets: Admission is free. Advance reservation for the concert at Carnegie Hall is required and begins on September 24. Please email concertrsvp@onassisusa.org.

About the Onassis Cultural Center NY: In carrying out the mission of the Onassis Foundation (USA), the Onassis Cultural Center NY (OCC NY) is the venue for presenting a wide range of programs that explore all phases of Hellenic civilization-ancient, Byzantine, and modern. The OCC NY collaborates with American and Greek institutions as it showcases cultural and artistic activities, such as art and archaeological exhibitions accompanied by publications, gallery tours, conferences, and educational programs; concerts, lectures, and panel discussions; public conversations; poetry readings; and theatrical performances. The OCC NY attracts visitors from around the United States to its free events and exhibitions. To learn more about the Foundation and the OCC NY, visit www.onassisusa.org.