|Transient Glory Concert 2003|
Transient Glory: The voices of children 2003
The Young People's Chorus of New York City
Francisco J. Núñez, conductor
Theresa L. Kaufmann Concert Hall
Sunday, April 27, 2003 at 3pm
Jon Holden, piano
Maestro Kurt Masur
Richard J. Schwartz
Orpheus (world premiere)
Beauty in a Moment (world premiere)
NYC Playground (world premiere)
Francisco J. Núñez
Shirtless Stephen (and the Children's Crusade) (world premiere)
A Child's View of Colour (world premiere)
David Del Tredici
Four Heartfelt Anthems (world premiere)
1. Sabbath's Child (proclamation)
2. The Little Land (Barcarolle)
3. Alphabet (fuga)
4. Highlands Farewell (aria)
Dominick Argento, considered to be America's pre-eminent composer of lyric opera, was born in York, Pennsylvania in 1927. Although Argento's instrumental works have received consistent praise, the great majority of his music is vocal, whether in operatic, choral, or solo context. This emphasis on the human voice is a facet of the powerful dramatic impulse that drives nearly all of his music, both instrumental and vocal. Writer Heidi Waleson has described Argento's work as "richly melodic...[his] pieces are built with wit and passion, and always with the dramatic shape and color that make them theater. They speak to the heart." Among other honors and awards, Dominick Argento has received the Pulitzer Prize for Music, given in 1975 for his song cycle From the Diary of Virginia Woolf. He received the 2004 Grammy for "Best Classical Contemporary Composition," awarded for Frederica von Stade's recording of Casa Guidi on the Reference Records label. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1979, and in 1997 was honored with the title of Composer Laureate to the Minnesota Orchestra, a lifetime appointment.
Elizabeth Ziman studied composition and voice at the Berklee College of Music. She composes classical piano music, choral and solo- voice jazz and pop songs. In 2001, she won the ASCAP Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller songwriting award and opened the ASCAP Life Achievement Awards ceremony at Lincoln center with her performance of her song. She returned to Lincoln Center this year with Patti Austin's "BeboperElla" nationwide tour. She studied music at Manhattan School of Music and Laguardia HS for the performing arts, and sang in Francisco’s music programs and the YPC since she was five years old. She is delighted to have been commissioned by the Young People’s Chorus of New York City to write a piece for the choral group that has contributed so much to her life in music.
Kevin James has received numerous awards, grants & commissions as a composer, performer and educator. Most significantly, he was one of only four composers selected for the prestigious Meet The Composer/New Residencies Program in 1999 placing him in residence variously with the Police Athletic League, The Kitchen, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Quintet of the Americas, and the Sirius String Quartet. This residency partnership includes the commission of Portraits, a 95-minute multimedia "opera-lingua" on the theme of homelessness, for which Mr. James recorded over 700 interviews with homeless New Yorkers. Portraits has had two successful runs at The Kitchen and was performed in the Spring of 2002 at the Public Theater in New York. He continues his work with the homeless community through the creation of the Portraits Project Mentorship Program, where homeless and disadvantaged children are given the opportunity on an ongoing basis to learn instruments from top New York musicians.
Composer Kevin James' has received awards and grants from the American Composer's Forum, Jerome Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and many others. His piece In Complexu Pacis received honors this year in the worldwide Waging Peace choral music competition and was a winner of the Essentially Choral competition where it was performed by the renowned VocalEssence.
Geoffrey Burgon came relatively late to music. As an adolescent he became interested in jazz and taught himself the trumpet in order to join a jazz band at school. He began composing when he entered the Guildhall School of Music and Drama although he was still intent on becoming a trumpet player. Composition, however, began to absorb him more and more and when he asked his teacher Peter Wishart whether he thought he would make a composer, Wishart’s reply was 'well, you don’t seem to be able to stop, do you?'. Burgon has not looked back since.
On leaving the Guildhall, Burgon initially supported himself and his family as a freelance trumpeter (although he continued to compose prolifically) and at the age of 30 he sold all his trumpets and devoted himself to composition. Seven impecunious years followed. Then in 1976 his Requiem was performed at the Three Choirs Festival, winning much critical acclaim and won Burgon recognition as a serious composer. The Calm, written for London Contemporary Dance Theatre and Running Figures for Ballet Rambert established him as a composer with choreographers. At this time he also began writing for film and television, including scores for two series of Dr Who. Success soon followed with scores for Brideshead Revisited; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Bleak House and a highly successful CD of his TV music was released on the Silva Screen label.
When Michael Nyman (b.1944) published his study Experimental Music: John Cage and Beyond (1974, reprinted 1999), he could hardly have foreseen his own contribution to that 'beyond'. Disaffected with the then current orthodoxies of international modernism, Nyman had abandoned composition in 1964, preferring to work as a musicologist, editing Purcell and Handel, and collecting folk music in Romania. Later he wrote criticism for several journals, including The Spectator, where, in a 1968 review of Cornelius Cardew's The Great Digest, he became the first to apply the word 'minimalism' to music.
That same year, a BBC broadcast of Steve Reich's Come Out opened his ears to further possibilities, and a route back to composition began to emerge. Nyman has formulated his compositional style around strong melodies, flexible yet assertive rhythms, and precisely articulated ensemble playing.
If works for the Michael Nyman Band have dominated his output, the composer has written for a wide variety of ensembles, including symphony orchestra, a cappella chorus and string quartet. He has written several stage works, notably The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat (1986), derived from a case study by Oliver Sacks; and has provided music for such distinguished choreographers as Siobhan Davies, Shobana Jeyasingh, Lucinda Childs, Karine Saporta and Stephen Petronio.
His music has reached its largest audience by way of his film scores, most famously for Peter Greenaway, with whom he collaborated on eleven movies between 1976 and 1991. Other directors with whom he has worked include Jane Campion (The Piano, 1992), Volker Schlöndorff (The Ogre, 1996), Neil Jordan (The End of the Affair, 1999) and Michael Winterbottom (Wonderland, 1999). He also collaborated with Damon Albarn on the music for Antonia Bird's Ravenous (1998).
At every turn Nyman has proved eminently practical. Not for him the ivory tower anguish of a tormented composer grappling with abstract systems. Rather he has consistently displayed an openness to collaboration, a spry sense of humour, a literate imagination and an instinctive ability to engage a highly diverse audience.
DAVID DEL TREDICI, is generally recognized as the father of the Neo-Romantic movement in music. He was trained in serial techniques, but his early works, many of them settings of poems by James Joyce, reflect quirky individuality in the handling of those orthodox musical materials. Soon, however, he broke away from the language of his teachers to explore the fantasy world of Lewis Carroll and, in so doing, developed his own unique voice -- a rich musical idiom of color, humor and sentiment -- worked out on vast orchestral canvases of tonal sound. His fascination with Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books yielded a surprising diversity -- from the spiky, witty settings of POP-POURRI and ADVENTURES UNDERGROUND (which include folk and rock ensembles), to the extravagant, theatrical opera-cantata, FINAL ALICE, and the lush, neo-romantic CHILD ALICE.
Del Tredici's music has been commissioned and performed by nearly every
major American and European orchestral ensemble. Best-selling recordings
were made of both FINAL ALICE and IN MEMORY OF A SUMMER DAY (Part I of CHILD
ALICE); the latter work won Del Tredici the Pulitzer Prize in 1980.
Recent years have seen Del Tredici turn from Carroll to American poetry as a fount of inspiration, yielding more than 50 songs in the past few years. The New York Philharmonic, under the direction of Kurt Masur, commissioned and performed THE SPIDER AND THE FLY in May 1998, while the Eos Orchestra premiered Del Tredici's monodrama DRACULA in March 1999. CHANA'S STORY and MIZ INEZ SEZ -- song cycles for soprano and piano – were premiered in October 1998 and April 2000, respectively.
For Del Tredici, Victorian sensibility has yielded to urban contemporary realities -- tormented relationships, personal transformations, and the joys and sorrows of gay life. GAY LIFE, in fact, happens to be the title of his song cycle premiered in May 2001 by the San Francisco Symphony, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and baritone William Sharp. (In its December 2001 issue, OUT Magazine cited GAY LIFE in naming the composer one of its people of the year.)