Premiere Commission Hosts Gala Celebration At Le Poisson Rouge 2/13

Premiere Commission Hosts Gala Celebration At Le Poisson Rouge 2/13

On Monday, February 13 at 7:30pm, Premiere Commission will mark its 10th anniversary with a Gala Celebration at Le Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker Street, NYC). Pianist and Premiere Commission Artistic Director Bruce Levingston will give the world premiere of composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa’s Rondolette, a piano quintet, with acclaimed string quartet Brooklyn Rider (Colin Jacobsen, violin; Johnny Gandelsman, violin; Nicholas Cords, viola; Eric Jacobsen, cello). Bielawa will also perform with Brooklyn Rider in her own work for string quartet and soprano, Graffiti dell'amante, and works by Henry Purcell.

In addition, the Gala concert will include the world premieres of Night by Augusta Gross and South by Southwest by Christopher Tignor; performances of William Bolcom’s New York Lights, John Corigliano’s Circa 1909, and Alfred Schnittke’s Silent Night with choreography by John Heginbotham and dancers from The Mark Morris Company; as well as music by Franz Liszt and Franz Schubert. Pianist Kimball Gallagher and Christopher Tignor will join Levingston, Bielawa, and Brooklyn Rider on the stage.

The evening will feature a special tribute for Lisa Bielawa, who is being recognized by Premiere Commission for her “consistent and inspiring high level of composition as well as her sustained advocacy for new music.” In honor of her work, Premiere Commission has arranged that a portion of the evening's proceeds go to support her large-scale new project in Berlin, Tempelhof Broadcast – a spatialized symphony for hundreds of musicians that uses the tarmac of Berlin’s Tempelhof Airfield as a vast musical canvas. For more information, visit

Founded in 2001, Premiere Commission, Inc. is a non-profit foundation that promotes the commissions and premieres of new compositions by some of today's most talented and thoughtful artists. Under the artistic leadership of its founder, pianist Bruce Levingston, the organization seeks to explore and develop the work of emerging as well as established composers and artists from different mediums. To date, the organization has commissioned over 40 new works.

Lisa Bielawa and Bruce Levingston share a musical friendship that began in 2004, when Levingston first heard Bielawa’s music performed by violinist Colin Jacobsen (of Brooklyn Rider and The Knights). Levingston was so impressed that when he programmed a gala concert at Lincoln Center two years later in honor of his organization’s fifth anniversary, he turned to Bielawa for a major new work to present as a premiere on the program. The resulting half-hour song cycle with violin interludes entitled The Lay of the Love and Death, commissioned with support from the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation, brought together a number of people who have had important influences on the lives of Bielawa and Levingston. Alexandra Montano, a highly regarded mezzo-soprano who had many recording and performances to her credit, performed on the program together with Bielawa, Levingston, Jacobsen, Ethan Hawke, and Philip Glass (a friend and collaborator of both Bielawa and Levingston). The following year, Montano tragically lost her life to cancer. Levingston commissioned a beautiful elegy from Bielawa in her memory – the result was Portrait-Elegy, which is included on Levingston’s recent Sono Luminus album Heart Shadow. In intertwining these multiple layers of their lives, Bielawa has sought to celebrate the many friendships and relationships that have nurtured her art. In turn, performers such as Levingston and Jacobsen whose playing and artistry have been a regular inspiration for Bielawa’s work, have regularly championed her music to great acclaim.

About Lisa Bielawa: Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa is a 2009 Rome Prize winner in Musical Composition. She takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. 

Born in San Francisco into a musical family, Lisa Bielawa played the violin and piano, sang, and wrote music from early childhood. She moved to New York two weeks after receiving her B.A. in Literature in 1990 from Yale University, and became an active participant in New York musical life. She began touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992, and in 1997 co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers.

Lisa Bielawa’s music is frequently performed throughout the US, and in Paris, Italy, the UK and Rome. Recent highlights included the world premieres of Graffiti dell’amante performed by Bielawa with the Brooklyn Rider string quartet in Rome and Harrisburg; Emerald Waltz in Boston; Portrait-Elegy, written for pianist Bruce Levingston, in New York; The Project of Collecting Clouds at Town Hall in Seattle by cellist Joshua Roman and chamber ensemble; the world premieres of Double Violin Concerto and In medias res by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), part of Bielawa’s three-year Music Alive residency with that orchestra; the premiere of The Right Weather by the American Composers Orchestra and pianist Andrew Armstrong at Carnegie Hall; and the premiere of The Lay of the Love and Death at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Bielawa’s work, Chance Encounter, a piece comprising songs and arias constructed of speech overheard in transient public spaces, has been performed by soprano Susan Narucki and The Knights in Seward Park in Lower Manhattan and at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, in Vancouver, on the banks of the Tiber River in Italy, as part of the opening of the celebrated new MAXXI Museum in Rome, and in Venice.

Bielawa is currently at work on Tempelhof Broadcast, a 60-minute piece for more than 600 musicians which will be performed on the tarmac of the former Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. On several days in May 2013, Bielawa will turn the abandoned runways into a vast musical canvas, as professional, amateur and student musicians execute a spatialized symphony.

Bielawa’s discography includes A Handful of World (Tzadik); The Trojan Women on a disc entitled First Takes (TROY); Hildegurls: Electric Ordo Virtutum, (Innova); The Trojan Women in a version for string quartet performed by the Miami on The NYFA Collection (Innova); In medias res (BMOP/sound), a double-disc set of Bielawa’s solo and orchestral works; the world premiere recording of Chance Encounter (Orange Mountain Music), and Elegy-Portrait on pianist Bruce Levingston’s 2011 album, Heart Shadow (Sono Luminus). For more information, please visit

About Bruce Levingston: Bruce Levingston is one of the leading figures on the contemporary music scene. Many of the country's most important composers have written works for him and his Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center world premiere performances of their works have won notable critical acclaim. 

Levingston has appeared in concerts and music festivals throughout the world and his performances have been broadcast internationally on radio and television. Noted for his creative programming, Levingston has collaborated with some of the most gifted artists of our time, including painter Chuck Close, actor Ethan Hawke, authors Nick McDonell and George Plimpton, composer Philip Glass, Brooklyn Rider and choreographer Jorma Elo.

Levingston began playing at age four and first studied with his mother. He later studied under Elizabeth Buday, Bela Boszormeni-Nagy, Morey Ritt, Anton Kuerti and Herbert Stessin. Long interested in human rights, Levingston gave performances to assist emerging "refusniks" from the Soviet Union, served as a U.S. delegate to the American Council on Germany and performed at the United Nations. He is founder of Premiere Commission, Inc., a non-profit foundation that has commissioned and premiered over forty new works.

About Premiere Commission: Founded in 2001, Premiere Commission, Inc. is a non-profit foundation that promotes the commissions and premieres of new compositions by some of today's most talented and thoughtful artists. Led under the artistic leadership of its founder, pianist Bruce Levingston, the organization seeks to explore and develop the work of emerging as well as established composers and artists from different mediums.

In 2002, Premiere sponsored the world premiere of Harvard Fromm Foundation Award-winner Curtis Curtis-Smith's Ghost and Passacaglia Etudes at New York’s Lincoln Center and, in 2003, the world premieres of sixteen new works for string quartet including compositions by Pulitzer Prize-winners John Corigliano, David Del Tredici, and Paul Moravec, as well as works by Justine Chen, Sebastian Currier, Zhou Long, and Chen Yi. Premiere also co-commissioned with Concert Artists Guild the BMI Schuman Prize-winner Gordon Beeferman’s Phenomena. In 2004, Premiere sponsored the Lincoln Center world premieres of Pulitzer Prize and Grammy Award-winner William Bolcom’s New York Lights and David Del Tredici’s Gymnopedie No. 1, and, in 2005, Philip Glass's acclaimed A Musical Portrait of Chuck Close.

In 2006, the organization celebrated its fifth anniversary with a sold-out gala concert at Lincoln Center featuring Premiere Commission founder Bruce Levingston, composer/performers Lisa Bielawa and Philip Glass, film and stage actor Ethan Hawke, violinist Colin Jacobsen and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Cunningham. In 2007, Premiere presented a new ballet with music by Pulitzer Prize-winner Milton Babbitt and choreography by Peter Quanz featuring New York City Ballet principals Megan Fairchild and Charles Askegard. In 2007, American Ballet Theatre presented a new ballet based on Glass's A Musical Portrait of Chuck Close featuring choreography by Jorma Elo and set designs by Chuck Close. In 2008, Premiere Commission presented the premieres of new works by Pulitzer Prize-winner Charles Wuorinen, Germany's acclaimed Wolfgang Rihm and the 2007 Grawemeyer Award-winner Sebastian Currier. In 2009, Premiere Commission presented the world premiere of Fledgling composed jointly by the 2008 and 2009 Rome Prize-winners Keeril Makan and Lisa Bielawa and the world premiere of Bielawa’s Portrait-Elegy.

In 2010, Premiere Commission presented the world premiere of renowned French composer Philippe Manoury’s Spins at the French Institute/Alliance Francaise in New York City. In 2011, Premiere Commission sponsored the world and New York premieres at Library of Congress and Carnegie Hall of Sebastian Currier’s Digital Mist (co-commissioned with Library of Congress), David Bruce’s The shadow of the blackbird, and Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky’s Passacaglia (co-commissioned with Colin Jacobsen). The works were performed by Colin Jacobsen and Bruce Levingston. For more information, visit