Three new works by Sebastian Currier will see premieres in coming months, each exploring the use of space and time in music. Receiving their world premieres are his violin concerto, Time Machines, commissioned by renowned violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, to be performed June 2-4 by the New York Philharmonic with Music Director Alan Gilbert; and the mixed ensemble piece, Digital Mist, at the Library of Congress's Whittall Pavilion on May 6. Currier's harp concerto, Traces, will have its U.S. premiere at Wyoming's Grand Teton Music Festival, performed by Naoko Yoshino and conducted by Osmo Vänskä, July 22-23.
Currier's first violin concerto, Time Machines, features seven movements examining different ways in which music unfolds in time, such as fragmented time, delayed time, or harmonic time. The composer offers further insights about time and air in music in his program notes: "Clearly the form of a piece is how it unfolds in time. On a smaller scale, melodic or rhythmic gestures are made of a series of events moving forward in time. Even pitch is a product of time: a pitch is created from a periodic oscillation, the less the time of each oscillation, the higher the pitch. This extends to timbre as well, since the tone color of an instrument is dependent on its overtones and overtones are simply vibration patterns at set time proportions to a fundamental tone. The rest is air…" The New York Philharmonic's performances of Time Machines mark the concluding concerts with Ms. Mutter, the Orchestra's 2010-2011 Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence, who has championed several new works over the course of her tenure. The long collaboration between Currier and Mutter dates back almost 20 years to Aftersong for violin and piano, which premiered at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in 1994. The New York Philharmonic's performance of Time Machines will be broadcast nationally on The New York Philharmonic This Week radio series; check local listings or visit nyphil.org.
Currier is no stranger to the harp, having written two small ensemble works and two concerti featuring the instrument. The composer's second harp concerto, Traces, was commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic and the Grand Teton Music Festival. The Berlin Philharmonic performed the world premiere in December 2009, conducted by Donald Runnicles, featuring harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet, for which the Berliner Zeitung noted the work's "charming enigmatic sound expanses and pensive melody." The Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra will perform the U.S. premiere during its 50th summer season. The five-movement concerto also explores the use of time, with the middle three movements following a standard concerto form (fast-slow-fast), but with "fragments of past structures making ephemeral appearances." The outer movements contain thematic fragments, with the opening section looking forward in time, and the finale featuring traces that "emerge and recede into shadows from farther back in time," in the words of the composer.
The world premiere of Digital Mist will feature violinist Colin Jacobsen and pianist Bruce Levingston, as well a pre-recorded tape. The work makes use of a concert hall's particular acoustic resonance - an idea inspired by the ancient Roman practice of using brass vases to amplify sound in a theater. This process is facilitated by the electronic tape part, and as the composer explains, "The result is that the melodic notes all continue to sound, and as more add together, the result isn't just the prolongation of the note just heard, but a pleasing haze that forms all around the entire passage." In a pre-concert conversation, Sebastian Currier will talk about this and other works. Digital Mist will receive its New York premiere on May 12 at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. Digital Mist was commissioned by the The Library of Congress McKim Fund and Premiere Commission, Inc.
Heralded as "music with a distinctive voice" by The New York Times and as "lyrical, colorful, firmly rooted in tradition, but absolutely new" by The Washington Post, Sebastian Currier's music has been performed at major venues worldwide by acclaimed artists and orchestras. His chamber music was presented by the Berlin Philharmonic in 2007 and 2008. His music has been enthusiastically embraced and championed by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. Currier's Microsymph was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra and premiered at Carnegie Hall. It has also been performed by orchestras such as the San Francisco Symphony, the Gewandhaus Orchestra, Eos Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra. The composer has also written works that involve electronic media and video. Of the multimedia piece Nightmaze, The New York Times said, "Currier's rich and imaginative music sets the right tone, with its fractured and dissonant baroque-like gestures leading off like highway exits into the void and hinting at distant reservoirs of emotion and yearning."
Currier has received many prestigious awards, including the Grawemeyer Award (for his chamber music work, Static), Berlin Prize, Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has held residencies at the MacDowell and Yaddo colonies. He received a D.M.A. from the Juilliard School; from 1999-2007 he taught at Columbia University.
> To view a score sample of Time Machines, click here.
> To view a score sample of Traces, click here.
> To purchase tickets for the Library of Congress concert, click here.
> To purchase tickets for the New York Philharmonic concerts, click here.
> To purchase tickets for the Grand Teton Music Festival concerts, click here.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Herman
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