Composer Gerald Cohen to Debut New Works VOYAGERS and STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME This Winter
New York-based composer Gerald Cohen (www.geraldcohenmusic.com), known for his moving and vibrant chamber music, opera, choral and liturgical music, announces two exciting and important upcoming world premieres.
The first, Voyagers, to be performed with astronomical projections at New York's esteemed Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, is a new quintet inspired by the Voyager space mission. The second, Steal A Pencil for Me, to be produced by Opera Colorado, is an opera based on the true love story of Holocaust survivors Jaap and Ina Polak.
Voyagers, a composition for clarinet and string quartet, is a tribute to the two Voyager spacecraft on the 40th anniversary of their launch, and of the music sent to accompany them on their journey out of the solar system. The piece, a linking of music, science and visual art, was commissioned by and written for the Cassatt Quartet and clarinetist Vasko Dukovski. Accompanying astronomical visualizations will be created by Carter Emmart, director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History.
Cohen says "When the Cassatt Quartet asked me to write a piece based on the theme of 'voyages' for a planned concert, I recalled that the two Voyager spacecraft-launched in the late 1970s, explorers of the outer planets, and now journeying beyond the edge of our solar system-were launched with a 'Golden Record', containing recordings of selections of Earth's music, along with photos and sounds of human life. This was sent as a message, to any extra-terrestrial civilization that might find the record, to convey the essence of human life on Earth. The piece incorporates music of several of the Golden Record excerpts, creating a composition that speaks of the power of music, human expression, and the drive to explore the universe."
The work will be performed at the Museum's Hayden Planetarium Space Theater in New York City on November 28, 2017 at 7pm. Tickets range from $12-$15 and are available at www.amnh.org/learn-teach/adults/hayden-planetarium-programs/astronomy-live-voyagers.
From January 25-30, 2018, Opera Colorado will present the world premiere production of Steal a Pencil For Me, an opera in two acts by composer Gerald Cohen and librettist Deborah Brevoort. The opera is a love story, full of hope, set during the the dark times of WWII concentration camps. It is based on the book of the same title by Jaap and Ina Polak, whom the composer knew for more than 25 years, and who had the chance to see the opera in its first semi-staged production in 2013. Conductor Ari Pelto and stage director Omer Ben Seadia will lead a cast featuring soprano Inna Dukach, baritone Gideon Dabi, and mezzo Adriana Zabala.
Conductor Ari Pelto says "Gerald Cohen's music is compelling, sophisticated, and approachable for the listener...There is a tight, natural connection between text and music, writing the music so as to make Deborah Brevoort's text very clear." He continues, "The story is compelling partly because there is no heroism. The three lead characters wrestle with the challenges, complications and emotions of life, love and partnership. At the same time, they are faced with surviving the horrors of the Holocaust."
The opera will be performed at the Elaine Wolf Theater at the Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center, 350 S. Dahlia Street, Denver, CO. Tickets are $20 - 125 and are available at www.operacolorado.org/steal-a-pencil-for-me.
About Gerald Cohen (www.geraldcohenmusic.com)
Composer Gerald Cohen has been praised for his "linguistic fluidity and melodic gift," creating music that "reveals a very personal modernism that...offers great emotional rewards." (Gramophone Magazine). His deeply affecting compositions have been recognized with numerous awards and critical accolades. The music on his recently released CD, Sea of Reeds (Navona), "is filled with vibrant melody, rhythmic clarity, drive and compositional construction...a sheer delight to hear." (Gapplegate Music Review)
His opera, Steal a Pencil for Me, based on a true concentration camp love story, will have its world premiere production by Opera Colorado in January 2018; excerpts were featured at Forth Worth Opera's Frontiers Festival in 2016. Lucid Culture's review of a 2013 semi-staged version noted the effectiveness of Cohen's "...mesmerizingly hypnotic, intricately contrapuntal" music, with moments of "...Bernard Herrmann-esque, shivery terror...". Cohen's operas Sarah and Hagar, based on the story from the book of Genesis, and Seed, a one-act opera about love and choices for a post-apocalyptic couple, have been performed in concert form. Cohen is a noted synagogue cantor and baritone; his experience as a singer informs his dramatic, lyrical compositions. Cohen's best-known work, his "shimmering setting" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) of Psalm 23, has received thousands of performances from synagogues and churches to Carnegie Hall and the Vatican.
Recognition of Cohen's body of work includes the Copland House Borromeo String Quartet Award and Hoff-Barthelson/Copland House commission, Westchester Prize for New Work, American Composers Forum Faith Partners residency, and Cantors Assembly's Max Wohlberg Award for distinguished achievement in the field of Jewish composition. Cohen received the Yale University's Sudler Prize for outstanding achievement in the creative arts, and has been awarded commissioning grants from Meet the Composer, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and Westchester Arts Council. Throughout his career, he has been selected for residencies including those at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and American Lyric Theater. Cohen's music has been commissioned and performed by chamber ensembles, choruses, and soloists throughout the United States.
Cohen's compositions are published by Oxford University Press, G. Schirmer/AMP and Transcontinental Music Publications. Gerald Cohen received a BA in music from Yale University and a DMA in composition from Columbia University. He is cantor at Shaarei Tikvah, Scarsdale, NY, and is on the faculties of The Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College.