The Serge Koussevitzky 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 granted jointly by the foundations and the performing organizations that will present the newly composed works.
Award winners and the groups cosponsoring their commissions are: Shih-Hui Chen and the Empyrean Ensemble; Miguel Chuaqui and the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble; Jacqueline Fontyn and the Lamina Quartet; Lior Navok and the Borromeo String Quartet; David Sanford and the Pittsburgh Collective; Mark-Anthony Turnage and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; and Zhou Long, cosponsored by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Pacific Symphony.
This marks the second Koussevitzky commission for composers Jacquelyn Fontyn and Zhou Long.
The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation of New York, founded in 1950 and 1942 respectively, perpetuate Serge Koussevitzky’s lifelong efforts to encourage contemporary composers. Koussevitzky was appointed music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO) in 1924, a post he held for 25 years. During that period he and the BSO commissioned such works as Ravel’s “Piano Concerto” and Stravinsky’s “Symphony of Psalms.” It was after he founded the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, however, that some of the most famous works of the last century, including Bartók’s “Concerto for Orchestra,” Copland’s “Symphony No. 3” and Britten’s “Peter Grimes” were commissioned.
The tradition of commissioning new works continues on an annual basis with a competition that is open to performing organizations and composers worldwide. Performing groups must submit an application for a composer they would like to jointly commission with the foundations and commit to its performance within two years of its completion. The next deadline for submission of applications is March 1, 2005. Manuscripts of commissioned works are deposited in the Library of Congress Music Division. More information can be found on the Web at www.koussevitzky.org/guidelines.
The Empyrean Ensemble, founded in 1988 at the University of California at Davis, is a group of seven musicians who join in commissioning a work scored for voice and chamber ensemble from Shih-Hui Chen. Chen, who came to the United States in 1982 and earned her doctoral degree in music composition at Boston University, has served as composer in residence at the Tanglewood Institute and is currently on the faculty of Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. She is the recipient of many awards, fellowships and grants from the Fromm Music Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Meet the Composer Program, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, ASCAP, the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute at Harvard and the Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation. Recent recognition includes an American Academy in Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Barlow Commission. Chen’s works have been recorded by the Boston Orchestra Project, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Arditti String Quartet, among others.
Miguel Chuaqui is commissioned to write a work for the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. Chuaqui was born in the United States but grew up in Chile, where he began to compose at the age of 11 while studying at the Escuela Moderna de Música and the Universidad Católica de Chile. Later he transferred to the University of California at Berkeley and earned his doctorate in composition under the guidance of Andrew Imbrie. Chuaqui’s involvement in electro-acoustic music composition eventually led to his present teaching position in the Ussachevsky Music Studio at the University of Utah’s School of Music. He is the recipient of the Eisner Prize, a Nicola de Lorenzo Award, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Music, in addition to commissions from numerous ensembles and the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard. The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble is a consortium of 10 musicians in the San Francisco area who perform in diverse combinations and feature new works alongside familiar masterpieces. Kurt Rohde, their violist and artistic director, is also a composer who was awarded a Koussevitzky commission in 1998 for “Minerva’s Pool,” a work for string orchestra.
Jacqueline Fontyn, whose “Réverie et Turbulence” for piano and orchestra was a 1988 Koussevitzky commission, will create a new work for the Lamina Quartet. Fontyn was born in Belgium, where she began lessons at the age of 5 with the Russian piano teacher Ignace Bolotine. She continued her musical education with Max Deutsch in Paris, studied conducting with Hans Swarowski in Vienna, and in Brussels at the Royal Chapel of Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, where she graduated in composition. She has held professorships at conservatories in Antwerp and Brussels. Fontyn’s catalog of more than 100 works has won her several national and international awards, including the Prix Arthur Honegger from the Fondation de France, recognition in the form of membership in the Royal Academy of Belgium and, in 1993, the title of Baroness from the King of Belgium. The Lamina Quartet, based in Belgium, is a percussion ensemble for marimba, xylophone, vibraphone and tubular bells. The quartet performs as a solo group with orchestra as well as with invited instrumental and vocal groups.
The Borromeo String Quartet joins the Koussevitzky foundations in commissioning a new work from Israeli composer Lior Navok. A graduate of the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem, Navok holds a doctorate in composition from the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with John Harbison. Navok is the winner of many awards, including ASCAP’s Rudolf Nissim Prize, the Lili Boulanger Award and London’s Galliard Ensemble prize, along with recent commissions from the Fromm Foundation and the American Composers Forum. His music is widely known through performances by such ensembles as the Israel Philharmonic and through his highly acclaimed recordings “Hidden Reflections” and “Meditations Over Shore” on the NLP label. The Borromeo String Quartet, formed in 1989 by four students from the Curtis Institute of Music, has been winning top prizes in international competition since 1990 and has appeared on distinguished chamber music series worldwide. In 1998 the quartet received Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Award. The Borromeo is quartet-in-residence on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music.
The Koussevitzky foundations and the Pittsburgh Collective join in commissioning a work by David Sanford, composer and director of this large jazz, classical and new-music ensemble. Sanford was born in Pittsburgh and earned degrees in theory and composition from the University of Northern Colorado, the New England Conservatory and Princeton University, where he defended his dissertation on Miles Davis. Sanford’s compositions and arrangements are widely performed by a diverse range of ensembles, and he has also been recognized by numerous awards, including the Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Rome Prize and several commissions. He is currently on the faculty at Mount Holyoke College.
British composer Mark-Anthony Turnage will compose an orchestral work for the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Founded in 1890, the CSO presented the American premiere of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” two years later, thus beginning a tradition of presenting the American premier performances of an extensive list of works. Last year Turnage’s music was featured on the BBC Radio 3’s annual celebration of a particular composer during a weekend of live performances by the BBC Symphony and Chorus. Turnage’s choral and orchestral music, chamber works, two operas (“Greek” and “The Silver Tassie”), a song cycle, four film scores, two jazz concerts and several talks by the composer himself were among the featured programs. The recipient of the Guinness Composition and Mendelssohn prizes, in addition to several commissions, Turnage is strongly influenced by jazz, and by Miles Davis in particular.
“The Ineffable,” by Zhou Long, was co-commissioned by the Koussevitzky foundations and the New Music Consort in 1993. Zhou’s second Koussevitzky commission, from the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Pacific Symphony, is a flute concerto. Born into an artistic family in China, Zhou’s education was interrupted when he was sent to a rural state farm during the Cultural Revolution. He was able to continue his musical training in 1973 and graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. He was later appointed composer in residence with the National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra of China. Zhou moved to the United States in 1985 and earned his doctorate in music from Columbia University. Recognition followed in the form of fellowships (including the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations), recording grants from the Aaron Copland Foundation for Music and the Mary Flagler Trust, as well as competition prizes, awards, commissions and premier performances worldwide. Zhou and his composer-violinist wife, Chen Yi, who received a Koussevitzky commission in 1997 for her “Chinese Fold Dance Suite” for violin and orchestra, live in Kansas City, where he is currently visiting professor of composition at the University of Missouri.