The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, Inc., have awarded commissions for new musical works to five composers. Jointly granting the commissions are the foundations and the performing organizations that will present the newly composed works.
Award winners and the groups co-sponsoring their commissions are Tristan Murail and YarnWire; Kaija Saariaho and Da Camera of Houston; Ronald Bruce Smith and the Del Sol Quartet; Kate Soper and Alarm Will Sound; and Wang Jie and the League of Composers/ISCM (the U.S. chapter of the International Society of Contemporary Music).
Distinguished French composer Tristan Murail was recently named professor of composition at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg. Previously, he was a member of the composition faculty at Columbia University. Long noted for his use of electronics in his compositions and his research into acoustic phenomena, Murail is a leading proponent of French “spectral music,” a style that includes computer analysis of the sound spectrum while emphasizing timbre and musical color. This award marks his second Koussevitzky commission.
A native of Finland, Kaija Saariaho is recognized as a leading composer who has claimed such honors as the Grawemeyer Award, the Wihuri Sibelius Prize and the Nemmers Prize. She has served as composer-in-residence at Carnegie Hall but has spent much of her career working at the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics and Music (IRCAM), one of the world’s largest public research centers dedicated to both musical expression and scientific research.
Ronald Bruce Smith is a Canadian composer whose works include both acoustic instruments and electronics. He currently serves as professor of composition at Northeastern University. Smith’s numerous awards and commissions have come from prestigious institutions such as the Fromm Music Foundation, the Barlow Endowment and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. He earned his doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley and also studied at IRCAM in Paris.
Kate Soper is a composer and performer based in New York City who has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, Carnegie Hall and the Tanglewood Music Center, among others, and has received prizes from such distinguished institutions as the Fromm Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She teaches at Columbia University and is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.Wang Jie was born and raised in Shanghai. She came to the United States to study at the Manhattan School of Music and the Curtis Institute. Critically acclaimed as an important young composer, Wang was the first recipient of the Milton Rock Fellowship, which resulted in a commission to compose a ballet for Philadelphia’s Rock School for Dance Education. Other awards have come from the American Music Center, Opera America, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1924 to 1949, was a champion of contemporary music. Throughout his distinguished career, he played a vital role in the expansion of the repertoire by commissioning new works from composers such as Benjamin Britten, Béla Bartók, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein and Igor Stravinsky. He established the Koussevitzky foundations to continue his lifelong commitment to composers and new music. Applications for commissions are accepted annually.
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