The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation Inc. have awarded commissions for new musical works to six composers. The commissions are 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: William Kraft and Earplay; Philippe Leroux and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players; Nicholas Maw and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra; Tison Street and the Boston Classical Orchestra; David Taddie and the Cleveland Chamber Symphony; and Barbara White and the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston.
The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation of New York, founded in 1950 and 1942, respectively, perpetuate Koussevitzky’s lifelong efforts to encourage contemporary composers. Serge Koussevitzky was appointed conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1924 and served in that post for 25 years. He died in 1951. Works commissioned by him and the two foundations include established masterpieces such 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 without regard to national origin or affiliation. Groups must submit an application for a composer whose work they would like to commission jointly with the foundations, and they must undertake to perform the work within two years of its completion. The next deadline for submission of applications is March 1, 2004. Manuscripts of commissioned works are deposited in the Music Division of the Library of Congress.
This marks the second Koussevitzky commission for composer William Kraft, whose “Encounters X,” for violin and marimba, was written for the Koussevitzky Foundation in 1992. Kraft will compose a new chamber music work for Earplay, a San Francisco-based contemporary music ensemble founded in 1985. A native of Chicago, Kraft earned degrees at Columbia University, studying with Jack Beeson, Henry Brant, Henry Cowell, Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky. He holds the Corwin Chair in the Music Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has led an active career as composer, conductor, percussionist and teacher. While serving as composer-in-residence with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Kraft founded and directed the orchestra’s New Music Group. His many honors include two Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards; fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts; prizes from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; and numerous commissions. Recordings devoted to the music of William Kraft include those on the Cambria, CRI, Harmonia Mundi and Nonesuch labels.
French composer Philippe Leroux will write create a chamber work for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. At the Paris Conservatory, Leroux won three first prizes; he went on to a residency at the Villa Medicis in Rome. Olivier Messiaen, Franco Donatoni, Betsy Jolas and Iannis Xenakis were among his teachers. Leroux has been commissioned by numerous institutions in France and abroad, including the French Ministry of Culture, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Festival Musica in Strasbourg and the Norwegian Ensemble BIT 20. In addition to teaching at IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) in Paris, Leroux writes frequently about contemporary music.
The Philadelphia Orchestra joins with the foundations in commissioning a new concerto for English horn from British composer Nicholas Maw. He has been commissioned by many of the major musical organizations in the United Kingdom, such as the BBC, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the English Chamber Orchestra, and the London Sinfonietta. The EMI recording of Maw’s “Odyssey” for orchestra, with Simon Rattle conducting, was nominated for a Grammy award. Maw studied at London’s Royal Academy of Music and in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and Max Deutsch. Since 1984 Maw has divided his time between Europe and the United States. He is professor of composition at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Maw’s first Koussevitzky commission, “Trio” for violin, cello and piano, was composed in 1991.
Composer Tison Street is commissioned by the foundations and the Boston Classical Orchestra to write a work for chamber orchestra. Street was born in Boston and received degrees from Harvard University. His honors include the Naumberg Recording Award, a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, among many others. Street has taught at Harvard, the University of California at Berkeley and Boston University. Many of the country’s leading orchestras have programmed Street’s music, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In addition to composing, Street remains active as a violinist, playing with distinguished ensembles in the Boston area.
The foundations join with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony to commission a piece for chamber orchestra from Cleveland native David Taddie. Currently assistant professor of music at West Virginia University, where he heads the Electronic Music Studio, Taddie holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Cleveland State University and a doctorate in composition from Harvard. His principal teachers were Donald Martino, Bernard Rands and Mario Davidovsky. Taddie’s works have been performed throughout the United States and Europe by such organizations as Alea III, the New Millennium Ensemble, the California EAR Unit and the Gregg Smith Singers. Among his awards and honors are the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the Adelbert Sprague, Francis Boot and Bohemians prizes from Harvard University; and a commission from the Fromm Foundation. In 1995 he was named the Shepherd Distinguished Composer of the Year by the Music Teachers National Association.
Barbara White, professor of music at Princeton University, is commissioned by the foundations and the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston to write a work for soprano and flute based on texts of Dorothy Parker. White has received commissions from the Philadelphia Orchestra Chamber Series, New York New Music Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva and the Fromm Foundation. With a special interest in percussion, she has also been asked to write works for the Talujon Percussion Quartet, the Yesaroun’ Duo, and marimbists Nancy Zeltsman Dominic Donato and Stephen Paysen. Recent honors include an ASCAP Award to Young Composers; a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and an Interdisciplinary Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. With choreographer Joan Wagman, White co-founded Momentum Interdisciplinary Arts. White was born in Boston and was educated at Harvard/Radcliffe Colleges and the University of Pittsburgh.