The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Inc. have awarded commissions for new musical works to seven composers. The commissions are being granted jointly by the foundations and the performing organizations that will present the newly composed works.
Award winners and the groups co sponsoring their commissions are Derek Bermel and the American Composers Orchestra; Chester Biscardi and Sequitur; Matthew Greenbaum and Ensemble Surplus; Arthur Kampela and Linea Ensemble; Jonathan Keren and Suedama Ensemble with the 92nd Street Y; Thierry Lancino and Radio France; and Dan Yuhas and Israel Contemporary Players.
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 (BSO) in 1924 and served in that post for 25 years. Works commissioned by him and the two Foundations include established masterpieces such as Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes and Bela Bartok’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 commission jointly with the foundations, and they 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.
Derek Bermel is commissioned to write an orchestral work for the American Composers Orchestra, where he serves as the Music Alive Composer-in-Residence. Bermel’s new piece will be performed on the ACO’s “Orchestra Underground” series. Noted for his versatility as a composer, clarinetist, and jazz and rock musician, Bermel’s works fuse global sounds, drawing on his first-hand experience with music of cultures from around the world. His many awards include the Rome Prize, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, and awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Bermel studied at Yale University and the University of Michigan, and later in Amsterdam. His teachers include William Albright, Louis Andriessen, and William Bolcom. PeerMusic Classical and Faber Music publish Bermel’s works.
Chester Biscardi‘s new work, scored for baritone, string quartet and piano, will be written for Sequitur, a New York ensemble focusing on multi-disciplinary works and contemporary concert pieces. Biscardi’s music has been featured at festivals in Rotterdam, Moscow, Japan, Thailand, and Brazil, as well as by noted orchestras and chamber ensembles in Europe and the United States. Published by C.F. Peters and Merion Music, Biscardi’s catalog includes works for opera, orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, and solo piano. The composer’s many honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim, Bogliasco, Djerassi, and Rockefeller foundations, the Aaron Copland Award, and a Fromm Foundation grant. Biscardi received undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and master’s and doctoral degrees from Yale. He is Director of the Music Program at Sarah Lawrence College.
German ensemble SurPlus joins the foundations in commissioning a new work from Matthew Greenbaum, who is a professor of music composition at Temple University. The composer studied with Stefan Wolpe and Mario Davidovsky, and holds a Ph.D. from the City University of New York Graduate Center. Greenbaum is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including those from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Rockefeller Fund, and the New York Foundation of the Arts. His works have been performed by leading ensembles and soloists in the U.S. and abroad. Recordings of Greenbaum’s music appear on the CRI, Centaur, New World, and Furious Artisans labels.
Composer and virtuoso guitarist Arthur Kampela is commissioned to write a work for Ensemble Linea, a contemporary music performing group based in Strasbourg. Kampela is known in his native Brazil for fusing popular and vernacular styles with contemporary compositional methods. He has also pioneered ways of working with acoustic instruments, devising entirely new playing techniques. Kampela was a pupil of Brian Ferneyhough, and then went on to receive a doctorate in composition from Columbia University, studying with Mario Davidovsky and Fred Lerdahl. He has received commissions and awards from the Rio Arte Foundation, the Fromm Foundation, and the Brazilian government, among others, and has won major composition competitions, including those for new guitar music.
The Suedama Ensemble and New York’s 92nd Street Y team with the Foundations in commissioning Jonathan Keren to write a new work for chamber orchestra. Keren, a composer, arranger, and violinist, received a master’s degree in composition from The Juilliard School, where he studied with Samuel Adler and Milton Babbitt. Keren’s works have been widely performed in the U.S., Europe, and his native Israel. He has been commissioned by the Jerusalem Music Center, Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. As a member of the Israeli army’s music unit, Keren arranged more than fifty pieces for chamber and vocal ensembles. Co-founder of the ExTempo Baroque Players and La Mela Di Newton, Keren remains active as a performer.
Thierry Lancino will compose a new requiem—a large-scale work including an original text by Pascal Quignard and scored for soloists, choir and orchestra—for Radio France Presences Festival. The Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra will premiere the work in Paris at the Salle Pleyel on Jan. 8, 2010. Lancino received the “Prix de Composition” at the Paris Conservatory. He has worked at Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA), and on the staff at IRCAM, the Pompidou Center’s Music Institute in Paris. In 1988, Lancino received the “Prix de Rome,” serving a two-year residency at the Villa Medici, marking a move from electronic music to works for conventional forces.
The Israel Contemporary Players join the Foundations in commissioning a chamber work from composer Dan Yuhas. First studying in his native Israel at the Rubin Academy in Tel Aviv, Yuhas continued his work in London and Paris. He has won numerous prizes for composition, including the Lieberson Prize for orchestral works and the Israeli Prime Minister’s award for composers; honors from ACUM, Israel’s Authors, Composers and Music Publishers Association, include the life achievement prize in 2007. Yuhas’ music has been performed by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, and the Arditti Quartet, among many other ensembles.