Begins its Next 25 years
American conductor Steven Sloane begins his tenure as Music Director of American Composers Orchestra (ACO) with a series of three Carnegie Hall concerts that combine commissions, New York premieres and rarely-performed American works. These three "must hear" events will demonstrate the vision and the scope of music-making that this energetic conductor brings to his new position. About his first full season with ACO, Steven Sloane said, " It is an honor and a privilege to be only the second Music Director of American Composers Orchestra, an orchestra that is the foremost champion of American composers and their music, and to help lead the organization into its second quarter-century. I look forward to this season and to the many exciting and innovative projects we will undertake together."
Maestro Sloane will launch ACO's season with a concert that explores the diversity of approaches and styles to the settings of some of the most universal of spiritual material-Psalms. Acknowledging the emotional climate of the country just over a year after the tragedies of September 11, 2001, and exploring music by Jewish-and non Jewish-American composers alike, the concert will open with world premieres by composers David Lang, Shulamit Ran, and Milton Babbitt, and selections from Jon Magnussen's Psalm. Rounding out the program is the New York premiere of John Harbison's substantial Four Psalms. Performing with ACO will be soprano Judith Bettina, mezzo-soprano Margaret Lattimore, and the New York Virtuoso Singers, Harold Rosenbaum, Artistic Director.
In Supplications (for Chorus and Orchestra), Shulamit Ran, an Israeli émigré now living in Chicago, has set fragments-in both Hebrew and English-of Psalm 23 ("The Lord Is my Shepherd"). Milton Babbitt's work, From the Psalter, is a setting of Psalm 13, as set in verse by Sir Philip Sidney, while in how to pray, David Lang has set a musical treatment of the prayer that comes before the Psalms. Jon Magnussen's Psalm, heard in its New York premiere, is a recent setting of Psalm 61 and Psalm 113 based on a video reconstruction of a José Limón-choreographed dance dating from 1967. John Harbison's Four Psalms was commissioned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel, and opens with a setting of a prayer by Amemar, a Babylonian rabbi and mystic, which asks of God for "dreams of Israel that are true and enduring visions." Using contemporary texts as well as Psalms, Harbison's work deals directly with violence and upheaval in the Middle East, making the work perhaps even more timely today than when it was commissioned.
In honor of the tenth anniversary of the death of composer and performer Frank Zappa, ACO will present several of Mr. Zappa's well-known works, in orchestral arrangements by Ali N. Askin. The Adventures of Greggery Peccary and Peaches en Regalia are U.S. premieres, and the program will also include G-Spot Tornado and the New York premiere of The Dog Breath Variations/Uncle Meat (a.k.a .Dog/Meat). Guest soloists for The Adventures of Greggery Peccary are David Moss and Omar Ebrahim.
The concert opens with three world premieres, commissioned by ACO through the orchestra's annual Whitaker New Music Readings. The first piece, L'alma respira (my soul breathes), is by Dan Coleman, an Arizona-based composer who, since his reading by ACO in 1998, has received commissions from Orpheus, Dallas Symphony, and the Cypress String Quartet, and was recently named Music Alive Composer-in-Residence with the Tucson Symphony. The second work, Autumn Fall, is by Hsueh-Yung Shen, a composer who trained at Harvard, Stanford, and Aspen, and studied with Nadia Boulanger in France. He currently teaches composition and percussion at Southwestern University (Texas). The third Whitaker commission, In Search of the Miraculous, is by Brian Robison, and takes its title from the book in which P.D. Ouspensky attempted to record teachings of the contrarian early twentieth-century guru G.I. Gurdjieff. Recently appointed Assistant Professor of Music at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; he has taught at Cornell University and at Ithaca College.
ACO's Carnegie Hall subscription season will culminate with a concert version of Samuel Barber's rarely performed opera, Antony and Cleopatra, featuring Metropolitan Opera star soprano Carol Vaness as Cleopatra. Antony and Cleopatra is both one of the most overlooked masterpieces of American opera and one of the most sensational flops of the 20th Century. It was Barber's final work for the stage, occupying-some would say preoccupying-the composer during the last productive decade of his life. The work was commissioned for the opening of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in 1966. Despite some of the composer's most stunning and heartfelt music, the premiere production was widely viewed as a failure mostly due to an overly elaborate production. Barber's epic Shakespearean setting of the love triangle between Caesar, Antony, and Cleopatra makes for high drama on the stage, and the piece-filled with gorgeous, romantic music-may be shown off at its best in concert.
Steven Sloane is one of the most adventurous and innovative conductors to have emerged in recent years. Through his work with orchestras, festivals, choruses, and opera companies across Europe and in America, Maestro Sloane has won acclaim for his compelling programming, theatrical flair, and impressive technique. [read more about Steven Sloane...]
Pre-Concert Talks / Ticket Info
Each of ACO's Carnegie Hall performances is preceded by a discussion with the composers at 1:45pm. These discussions are moderated by ACO's Artistic Director, composer Robert Beaser, and include special guests such as noted musicologists, critics, and writers. Tickets for ACO's Carnegie Hall concerts are $15, $34, and $45, and discounted subscriptions are available. Tickets may be purchased through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, by visiting Carnegie Hall's website at www.carnegiehall.org, or at the Carnegie Hall box office, 57th Street at 7th Ave.
All artists and programs subject to change.
Last updated 9/26/2002