The Miller Theatre Opens the 2014-15 Composer Portraits Series with CHOU WEN-CHUNG, 10/2

The Miller Theatre Opens the 2014-15 Composer Portraits Series with CHOU WEN-CHUNG, 10/2

Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts opens the 2014-15 Composer Portraits series with CHOU WEN-CHUNG featuring Brentano Quartet, Talujon, New York New Music Ensemble, and James Baker, conductor on Thursday, October 2, 2014, 8:00 p.m. at the Miller Theatre at Columbia University (2960 Broadway at 116th Street). Tickets are $20-$30 • Students with valid ID: $7-$18.


One of New York City's "strongest new-music series" (The New Yorker),Composer Portraits at Miller Theatre allow audiences to become immersed in one composer's singular style, as well as hear from them in-person during an onstage discussion. The 2014-15 season includes a wealth of world premieres and performances from cutting-edge artists such as the JACK Quartet, ICE, Third Coast Percussion, the Brentano String Quartet, and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo.

Composer Portraits

Thursday, October 2, 2014, 8:00 p.m.
Chou Wen-chung

Miller Theatre (2960 Broadway at 116th Street)
Chou Wen-chung has played a vital role in the confluence of Eastern and Western musical traditions. Born in Yantai, Chou moved to New York to study at Columbia, where he later joined the faculty himself, mentoring important next-generation Chinese composers such as Tan Dun, Bright Sheng, and Zhou Long. He was a lifelong protégé of Edgard Varèse. This Portrait spans from the "frenzied explosions of percussion madness" (The New York Times) of Echoes from the Gorge to a string quartet commissioned in response to Bach'sArt of Fugue.

Ode to Eternal Pine (2009)
String Quartet No. 2, "Streams" (2003)
Echoes from the Gorge (1989)

Brentano String Quartet
New York New Music Ensemble
James Baker, conductor

Chou Wen-chung (b. 1923) was born in Yantai, China to a family steeped in the wenrentradition. He came to the United States in 1946. His earliest work, Landscapes for orchestra (1949) is often cited as the first composition that is independent of either Western or Eastern musical grammar. Subsequently, his research for integration of musical concepts and practices led to his ever-evolving theory on his pien (variable) modes, influenced by concepts found in yin-yang and I Jing theories, Dao philosophy, brush calligraphy, and qin (Chinese zither) music, as well as early and modern European theories.

Chou became Edgard Varèse's student and assistant during the years when Varèse was composing his last works, including Déserts (1949-1954), the manuscript of which is in Chou's handwriting. His decades-long task of editing and correcting Varèse's scores began under Varèse's supervision. Chou has also completed two of Varèse's unfinished scores.

Chou did his graduate work at Columbia University under Otto Luening, 1952-1954, and served as his assistant and Vladimir Ussachevsky's at the predecessor of the historic Electronic Music Center. Chou taught composition to an increasingly international student body at Columbia University from 1964 to 1991. He succeeded Luening in 1969 and developed the composition program into an internationally renowned institution. In the 1980s, he discovered many young Chinese talents and brought them to the United States to study at Columbia. As the first Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition, Chou established the Fritz Reiner Center for Contemporary Music at Columbia in 1984 to foster new music. He revitalized Columbia's Electronic Music Center by converting it to the present Computer Music Center. To undertake crucially needed cultural projects throughout East and Southeast Asia, Chou established the Center for United States-China Arts Exchange in 1978 at Columbia University.

Chou is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and honorary member of the International Society for Contemporary Music and of the Asian Composers League. He was honored in 2001 by the French government with the order of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres. In 2005, he received the Robert Stevenson Prize for research on the relationship between ethnomusicology and composition.

Brentano String Quartet

Since its inception in 1992, the Brentano String Quartet has appeared throughout the world to popular and critical acclaim. Within a few years of its formation, the Quartet garnered the first Cleveland Quartet Award and the Naumburg Chamber Music Award; and in 1996 the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center invited them to be the inaugural members of Chamber Music Society Two, a program which was to become a coveted distinction for chamber groups and individuals. The Quartet had its first European tour in 1997, and was honored in the U.K. with the Royal Philharmonic Award for Most Outstanding Debut. This season marks the ensemble's debut year as Quartet-in-Residence at the Yale School of Music.

In addition to performing the entire two-century range of the standard quartet repertoire, the Brentano Quartet has a strong interest in both very old and very new music. It has performed many musical works pre-dating the string quartet as a medium, among them Madrigals of Gesualdo, Fantasias of Purcell, and secular vocal works of Josquin. Also, the quartet has worked closely with some of the most important composers of our time, among them Elliott Carter, Charles Wuorinen, Chou Wen-chung, Steven Mackey, Bruce Adolphe, and György Kurtág. The Quartet has commissioned works from Wuorinen, Adolphe, Mackey, David Horne and Gabriela Frank, and celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2002 by commissioning ten composers to write companion pieces for selections from Bach's Art of Fugue, the result of which was an electrifying and wide-ranging single concert program. The Quartet is named for Antonie Brentano, whom many scholars consider to be Beethoven's "Immortal Beloved", the intended recipient of his famous love confession.


Described by the New York Times as an ensemble possessing an "edgy, unflagging energy", the Talujon Percussion Quartet has been mesmerizing audiences since 1991. Talujon is thoroughly committed to the expansion of the contemporary percussion repertoire as well as the education and diversification of its worldwide audience. Based in New York City, Talujon performs regularly for such highly regarded organizations as the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, Bang on a Can, Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, Harvard University the Percussive Art Society. Talujon has appeared in universities and concert halls throughout the U.S., and on such festivals as the Taipei Lantern Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival, Chautauqua, California's Festival of New American Music, Bang on a Can Marathon and at the Percussive Art Society's International Convention. Recently, Talujon has worked with composers Meredith Monk, Julia Wolfe and Eric Moe.

New York New Music Ensemble

Since 1976, the New York New Music Ensemble has commissioned, performed and recorded the important and upcoming composers of our time. They have in fact been the means by which many of these have become more known and appreciated. NYNME has been recognized and supported by all the significant American foundations, including the Jerome Foundation, the Fromm Foundation at Harvard, the Mary Flagler Cary Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the NEA and NYSCA, among others. They have performed innumerable college residencies (Long Beach, UW Madison, Univ. of Pittsburgh, etc.), appeared at major festivals (Ravinia, Santa Fe, June in Buffalo, Pacific Rim, The Thailand International Composers Festival, etc.), and have recorded a huge discography of important chamber works. They have traveled to Europe, Asia, and South America to perform, teach and record, and have branched out into theatre music (instrumentalists doubling as actors and singers) and adventuresome electronic, interactive new technologies.

James Baker

James Baker is Principal Percussionist of the New York City Ballet Orchestra. He is Music Director and Conductor of the Composers Conference at Wellesley College and Director of the Percussion Ensemble and Coordinator of Percussion Studies at the Mannes College of Music. Mr. Baker is a Guest Conductor of the Slee Sinfonietta at the Institute for 21st Century Music in Buffalo and of Tactus at the Manhattan School of Music. He regularly conducts both the New York New Music Ensemble and Speculum Musicae. He has conducted at the Transit New Music Festival in Leuven, Belgium, at the Beijing Modern Music Festival, at the Monday Night concerts in Los Angeles, June in Buffalo, and Monadnock Music. He has for a number of years led student composers' readings and recording seminars at Rice University, Harvard, Pitt, Brigham Young, and other institutions.

Mr. Baker also appears with many orchestral and chamber music groups in New York. He has soloed in Carnegie Hall on several occasions and at the Lincoln Center Festival, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Carnegie Hall Making Music series, The Moab Music Festival and June in Buffalo Festival. An active composer of electro-acoustic music, Mr. Baker won a Bessie award for composition for dance. Upcoming commissions include works for Dance Theater Workshop in New York and the Palais Royal in Paris with his longtime collaborator, choreographer Tere O'Conor and at the EMPAC (experimental media center) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Abbey Theater in Dublin.

Upcoming Composer Portraits at Miller Theatre

Single tickets: $20-$35
Series season tickets: $68-$100 for any four concerts; $136-$200 for all eight
All concerts begin at 8:00 PM

Chaya Czernowin (b. 1957)
Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bernard Rands (b. 1934)
Thursday, November 13, 2014

Keeril Makan (b. 1972)
Friday, December 5, 2014

Missy Mazzoli (b. 1980)
Thursday, February 5, 2015

Stefano Gervasoni (b. 1962)
Thursday, February 19, 2015

Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964)
Thursday, March 5, 2015

Anna Clyne (b. 1980)
Thursday, April 23, 2015