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Born in Mexico City in 1943, Julio Estrada’s family was exiled from Spain in 1941. A composer, theoretician, historian, pedagogue, and interpreter, he began his musical studies in Mexico (1953-65), where he studied composition with Julián Orbón. In Paris (1965-69) he studied with Nadia Boulanger, Messiaen and attended courses and lectures of Xenakis. In Germany he studied with Stockhausen (1968) and with Ligeti (1972). He earned a Ph. D. in Musicology at Strasbourg University (1990- 1994).
Mohammed Fairouz, born in 1985, is one of the most frequently performed, commissioned, and recorded composers of his generation. Hailed by The New York Times as “an important new artistic voice” and by BBC World News as “one of the most talented composers of his generation,” Fairouz integrates Middle-Eastern modes into Western structures, to deeply expressive effect. His large-scale works, including four symphonies and an opera, engage major geopolitical and philosophical themes with persuasive craft and a marked seriousness of purpose.
Suzanne Farrin’s music explores the interior worlds of instruments and the visceral potentialities of sound. Her music has been performed by some of the great musicians of today on stages across Europe and North and South America. Tim Page, the former classical music critic of the Washington Post wrote: “If you can imagine the dense, perfumed chords of Messiaen’s piano music combined with the clangorous, insistent, near-pictorial tone-clusters of Frederic Rzewski’s Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues, you will have some idea of what Farrin’s work sounds like. Yet it transcends its derivations to leave the distinct impression of its own.”
Morton Feldman was born in New York in 1926 and died there in 1987. Just like Cage, a close friend, he was an American composer – an American artist – an American in the true sense of the word.
He identified himself by differentiating his views on composition from those of his colleagues in Europe. He was proud to be an American because he was convinced that it enabled him the freedom, unparalleled in Europe, to work unfettered by tradition.
Identity has always been at the center of Gabriela Lena Frank’s music. Born in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Frank explores her multicultural heritage most ardently through her compositions. Inspired by the works of Bela Bartók and Alberto Ginastera, Frank is something of a musical anthropologist. She has traveled extensively throughout South America and her pieces reflect and refract her studies of Latin American folklore, incorporating poetry, mythology, and native musical styles into a western classical framework that is uniquely her own.
Alberto Ginastera was the leading Argentinian composer of the twentieth century, as important in giving the Argentinian folk heritage a voice in art music as Bartók was in Hungary. Ginastera was born in Buenos Aires on 11 April 1916. He studied musical privately as a child, later enrolling at the National Conservatoire of Music in his home city. His first compositions date from his early youth; he was 22 when his Piezas infantiles for piano won first prize in a competition.
From 13 to 21 years of age Vinko Globokar lived in Ljubljana (Slovenia), where he made his debut as a jazz musician. He subsequently studied trombone at the National Conservatory in Paris (diploma in trombone and chamber music). He studied composition and conducting with René Leibowitz, counterpoint with André Hodeir, and continued his studies with Luciano Berio.
Osvaldo Golijov grew up in an Eastern European Jewish household in La Plata, Argentina. Born to a piano teacher mother and physician father, Golijov was raised surrounded by classical chamber music, Jewish liturgical and klezmer music, and the new tango of Astor Piazzolla. After studying piano at the local conservatory and composition with Gerardo Gandini he moved to Israel in 1983, where he studied with Mark Kopytman at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy and immersed himself in the colliding musical traditions of that city.
Michael Gordon’s music merges subtle rhythmic invention with incredible power embodying, in the words of The New Yorker‘s Alex Ross, “the fury of punk rock, the nervous brilliance of free jazz and the intransigence of classical modernism.”
Over the past 25 years, Gordon has produced a strikingly diverse body of work, ranging from large-scale pieces for high-energy ensembles to major orchestral commissions to works conceived specifically for the recording studio. Transcending categorization, this music represents the collision of mysterious introspection and brutal directness.
Heralded as “one of the most exciting voices in New Music” (The Wire), Lei Liang (梁雷) is a Chinese-born American composer whose works have been described as “hauntingly beautiful and sonically colorful” by The New York Times.
Winner of the 2011 Rome Prize, Lei Liang is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Aaron Copland Award. He was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert for the inaugural concert of the CONTACT! new music series.
Born in 1908 in Avignon into a literary family (his father, Pierre Messiaen, was a translator and his mother, Cécile Sauvage, a poet), Olivier Messiaen was marked by the idea of language. He first devised his own language (his book Technique of My Musical Language was completed in 1943) and based it on the modality that, as a child, he had discovered in Debussy, and that he later developed at the Paris Conservatory with Paul Dukas (composition), Maurice Emmanuel (history of music) and Marcel Dupré (organ). He then created his own poetic language, from which all his vocal works issue.
Timo Andres (b. 1985, Palo Alto, CA) is a composer and pianist who grew up in rural Connecticut and now lives in Brooklyn, NY. His début album, Shy and Mighty, which features ten interrelated pieces for two pianos performed by himself and pianist David Kaplan, was released by Nonesuch Records in May 2010 to immediate critical acclaim. Of the disc, Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker that Shy and Mighty “achieves an unhurried grandeur that has rarely been felt in American music since John Adams came on the scene… more mighty than shy, [Andres] sounds like himself.”
Uri Caine was born in Philadelphia and began studying piano with Bernard Peiffer. He played in bands led by Philly Joe Jones, Hank Mobley,Johnny Coles, Mickey Roker, Odean Pope, Jymmie Merritt, Bootsie Barnes and Grover Washington. He attended the University of Pennsylvania and studied music composition with George Rochberg and George Crumb. Caine has recorded 22 cds as a leader. His most recent cd is a jazz trio, Siren, (Winter and Winter 2011) with John Hebert on bass and Ben Perowsky on drums.
Andrew Norman (b. 1979) is a composer of chamber and orchestral music. A native Midwesterner raised in central California, Andrew studied the piano and viola before attending the University of Southern California and Yale. His teachers and mentors include Martha Ashleigh, Donald Crockett, Stephen Hartke, Stewart Gordon, Aaron Kernis, Ingram Marshall, and Martin Bresnick.A lifelong enthusiast for all things architectural, Andrew writes music that is often inspired by forms and textures he encounters in the visual world.
Steven Stucky is one of America’s most highly regarded and frequently performed living composers. Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for his Second Concerto for Orchestra, he is a trustee of the American Academy in Rome, a director of New Music USA, a board member of the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also active as a conductor, writer, lecturer, and teacher.
John Milton Cage Jr. (September 5, 1912 – August 12, 1992) was an American composer, music theorist, writer, and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde. Critics have lauded him as one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century. He was also instrumental in the development of modern dance, mostly through his association with choreographer Merce Cunningham, who was also Cage’s romantic partner for most of their lives.
Henry Cowell (1897-1965), was born in Menlo Park, California. The “godfather of the American experimental tradition” (in the words of Alex Ross), got an early start. While still young Cowell’s mother encouraged him to purchase a piano and, something of a child prodigy, he would give private recitals featuring his early compositions, including Anger Dance (1914).
Lou Harrison (1917 – 2003) was an American musical pioneer, composing works that incorporated Javanese gamelan and non-Western influences and explored the use of alternate tunings and new instruments. Spending much of his youth on the West Coast, he studied with Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg, before moving to New York to work with Virgil Thomson. In addition to composing, Harrison also worked tirelessly promote the music of Charles Ives, bringing the composer to the notice of the musical world and conducting the first performances if his Symphony No. 3.
Michael Harrison, composer and pianist, has been called “an American Maverick” by Philip Glass. Through his expertise in “just intonation” tunings, Indian ragas and rhythmic cycles, he has created “a new harmonic world…of vibrant sound” (The New York Times). With a personal style that transcends the ages, his music is both forward looking and deeply rooted in different forms of traditional music.
For a percussionist and composer as energetic, inquisitive and versatile as Glenn Kotche, it’s his sense of balance—his ability to thrive in different and seemingly disparate worlds—that really makes him stand out as a musician. Since 2001, Kotche has been the rhythmic anchor in Wilco, one of the most beloved rock bands on the planet.
Passionate, prolific, and complicated, composer David Lang embodies the restless spirit of invention. Lang is at the same time deeply versed in the classical tradition and committed to music that resists categorization, constantly creating new forms. In the words of The New Yorker, “With his winning of the Pulitzer Prize for the little match girl passion (one of the most original and moving scores of recent years), Lang, once a postminimalist enfant terrible, has solidified his standing as an American master.”
From his early taped speech pieces It’s Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) to his and video artist Beryl Korot’s digital video opera Three Tales (2002), Steve Reich’s path has embraced not only aspects of Western Classical music, but the structures, harmonies, and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz. “There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them,” states The Guardian (London).
MacArthur Fellow Bright Sheng was born on December 6th, 1955, in Shanghai, China, and moved to New York in 1982. He is currently the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor at University of Michigan, and the Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at Aaron Copland School of Music of Queens College, CUNY.
Rand Steiger’s music has been commissioned and performed by many ensembles, including the American Composers Orchestra, Boston Musica Viva, Ensemble Intercontemporain, International Contemporary Ensemble, Lontano, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, NYNME, Prism Quartet, San Diego Symphony, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Talea Ensemble, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he served as Composer Fellow. Soloists he has composed for include Matthew Barley, Maya Beiser, Claire Chase, Daniel Druckman, Peter Evans, Alan Feinberg, George Lewis, Susan Narucki, Vicki Ray, and Steven Schick.
James Tenney (1934–2006) was born in Silver City, New Mexico, and grew up in Arizona and Colorado, where he received his early training as a pianist and composer. He attended the University of Denver, the Juilliard School of Music, Bennington College, and the University of Illinois. His teachers and mentors included Eduard Steuermann, Chou Wen-Chung, Lionel Nowak, Carl Ruggles, Lejaren Hiller, Kenneth Gaburo, Edgard Varèse, Harry Partch, and John Cage.