The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress has awarded commissions for new musical works to four composers. The commissions are granted jointly by the foundation and the performing organizations that will present performances of the newly composed works.
Award winners and the groups co-sponsoring their commissions are Richard Festinger and the Afiara Quartet of Canada; Saed Haddad and Ensemble C-Barré of Marseille, France; Joseph Phibbs and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London; and Laura Elise Schwendinger and the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston.
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 creation of new works by commissioning such composers as Béla Bartók, Leonard Bernstein and Igor Stravinsky. He established the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library to continue his lifelong commitment to composers and new music. Applications for commissions are accepted annually.
The Koussevitzky commissioning program is designed primarily for established composers who have demonstrated considerable merit through their works and for orchestras and chamber groups that have a record of excellence in the performance of contemporary music. For more information, visit www.Koussevitzky.org.
Richard Festinger’s award-winning music has been performed and commissioned by leading contemporary music ensembles throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Active as a composer, performer and arts administrator, Festinger founded the acclaimed group EARPLAY, an innovator in the creation and performance of contemporary music in the San Francisco area. A professor of music at San Francisco State University since 1990, Festinger also serves as artistic director of the Morrison Artists Series, San Francisco’s longest-running chamber-music series. His music is published by C.F. Peters and Wildcat Canyon Press and is recorded on the Bridge, CRI, Centaur and Naxos labels. This is Festinger’s second Koussevitzky Foundation commission.
Saed Haddad is a German composer whose studies in music and philosophy took place in his birthplace of Jordan and in Israel, Belgium, France and England, where he earned his doctorate at King’s College, London. His chamber and orchestral works have been performed by prominent ensembles internationally. Winner of the French and German Prix de Rome and the German Record Critics’ Award, Haddad’s commissions have come from music festivals such as those at Donaueschingen and Lucerne, and from performing ensembles ranging from the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group to the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.
British composer Joseph Phibbs was educated in England and at Cornell University. His works are published by Ricordi London and are also available through Boosey and Hawkes. Phibbs’s orchestral music has been championed by such conductors as Esa-Pekka Salonen and Leonard Slatkin. His large-scale work, “Rivers to the Sea,” was premiered to critical acclaim by the Philharmonia Orchestra and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from the Royal Festival Hall, later winning in the orchestral category of the 2013 British Composer Awards. Commissions have come from the Aldeburgh, Cheltenham and Bath festivals. Phibbs is a director of the charitable Britten Estate Ltd., devoted to the legacy of composer Benjamin Britten.
This marks the second Koussevitzky commission awarded to Laura Elise Schwendinger, professor of composition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is also director of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. She is the first composer to receive the American Academy in Berlin Prize Fellowship and has won numerous honors, including the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and awards from the Fromm and Guggenheim Foundations. Schwendinger’s works have been performed regularly by major ensembles and artists throughout the United States and in Europe, including the Arditti and JACK Quartets, Dawn Upshaw, Janine Jansen and Matt Haimovitz.
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