Koussevitzky Foundation Announces Eight New Commission Winners
Award winners and the groups co sponsoring their commissions are John Corigliano and the New York Philharmonic; Justin Dello Joio and Bargemusic of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Fang Man and Dolce Suono Ensemble of Philadelphia; David Felder and SIGNAL of Rochester, N.Y.; Eric Moe and Talujon of Sea Cliff, N.Y.; Augusta Read Thomas and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra of N.Y.; Jukka Tiensuu and New Paths in Music of Staten Island, N.Y.; and Bright Sheng and the Prism Quartet of Philadelphia.
Celebrated American composer John Corigliano will score a new work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra for the New York Philharmonic. His Symphony No. 2, introduced by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was awarded the 2001 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Corigliano has also won three Grammy Awards, an Academy Award and the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for music composition. One of the few living composers to have a string quartet named for him, Corigliano serves on the composition faculty at the Juilliard School and holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Music at Lehman College, City University of New York.
Born in New York City, Justin Dello Joio is descended from seven generations of composers in the Dello Joio family. Bargemusic, which presents chamber music on a barge floating at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, is co-commissioning Dello Joio’s new work for violin and piano. His many awards come from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Foundation, Meet the Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Theodore Presser Foundation.
Chinese-born composer Fang Man now makes her home in the United States, where she is composer-in-residence and assistant professor of music at Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory of Music. She has also served as visiting assistant professor at Duke University. She has numerous prizes and fellowships to her credit, including the Toru Takemitsu Award (Japan), the Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship and the Olin and Sage Fellowships from Cornell University. Fang Man is co-commissioned by Dolce Suono to write a piece scored for voice and small chamber ensemble with electronics and a video component.
David Felder receives his second Koussevitzky Foundation commission, the first having been in 1992 to write “Inner Sky” for chamber ensemble. Felder’s new work for SIGNAL will be for a large chamber ensemble as well as chamber orchestra, with vocal soloists and electronics. Felder is Birge-Cary Chairholder in Composition at SUNY Buffalo and has served as artistic director of the “June in Buffalo” Festival since 1985. He is also director of the Center for 21st Century Music at the university and is artistic director of the Slee Sinfonietta, a professional chamber orchestra that he founded.
Eric Moe has received numerous awards and grants for his works, including those from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Guggenheim Foundation. This will be his second Koussevitzky commission; the first was “Up and At 'Em” (1989), scored for chamber ensemble. As a pianist and keyboardist, Moe has recorded works of John Cage, Marc-Antonio Consoli, Mathew Rosenblum, Jay Reise and Roger Zahab, in addition to his own music. Moe, who co-directs the series “Music on the Edge,” is professor of composition and theory at the University of Pittsburgh.
This award marks the second Koussevitzky commission for Augusta Read Thomas, whose string quartet “...dawn dream dazzle landscapes at twilight...,” was commissioned by the foundations in 1998. Thomas served as composer-in-residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1997 through 2006, during which time the orchestra, under Daniel Barenboim, premiered nine commissioned works by the composer. Thomas was professor of music at Northwestern University and served on the composition faculty at the Eastman School of Music. She was elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Thomas will write a song cycle for soloists and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
Digital technology is an integral component of Finnish musician Jukka Tiensuu’s compositions, having been associated with centers such as those at IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) in Paris, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. He now works from a custom studio where he employs signal processing and algorithmic design among other techniques in his compositions. Tiensuu has been director of the Helsinki Biennale and was co-founder of the “Time of Music” Festivals at Viitasaari. New Paths in Music is co-commissioning Tiensuu for a work featuring violin solo with a 16-piece chamber ensemble.
Bright Sheng spent seven years during the Chinese Cultural Revolution performing as a pianist and percussionist in a provincial music and dance theater before continuing his studies of composition in China and, later on, in the United States. Sheng was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 2001; among his many other honors are the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships and prizes from the Guggenheim, Jerome, Naumberg, and Rockefeller foundations. In addition, he was appointed the first composer-in-residence for the New York City Ballet. The composer is Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Music at the University of Michigan. “Tibetan Swing,” for orchestra, was Sheng’s first Koussevitzky Foundation commission. His new commission for the Prism Quartet will be scored for saxophone quartet and five traditional Chinese instruments.
The Koussevitzky Music Foundation of New York and the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation, established in 1942 and 1950, respectively, perpetuate Serge Koussevitzky’s lifelong efforts to encourage contemporary composers. Koussevitzky was appointed conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1924, a post he held for 25 years. Works commissioned by him and the two foundations include such established masterpieces as Benjamin Britten’s "Peter Grimes" and Béla Bartók’s "Concerto for Orchestra."
Commissions are awarded annually on a competitive basis and are open to performing organizations or individuals and to composers regardless of national origin or affiliation. Performing groups must submit an application for a composer whose work they would like to jointly commission with the foundations, and the groups must perform the work within two years of its completion. Manuscripts of commissioned works are deposited in the Music Division of the Library of Congress. More information can be found at www.koussevitzky.org.