Columbia's 'Composer Portraits' Series to Continue with Composer Sofia Gubaidulina, 2/9 & 3/21
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by BWW News Desk
Miller Theatre at Columbia University School of the Arts continues the 2012-13 season of its Composer Portraits series with the works of Russian composer SOFIA GUBAIDULINA, featuring the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Rebekah Heller, bassoon and Christian Knapp, conductor. The International Contemporary Ensemble performs four pieces from the composer's diverse repertoire, showcasing the breadth of her musical genius.
The concerts are set for Saturday, February 9, 2013, 8:00 PM at the Miller Theatre (2960 Broadway at 116th street). Tickets: $25-30 • Students with valid ID: $15-18. And On Tour: Thursday, March 21, 2013, 7:00 PM at Calderwood Hall, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (280 The Fenway). Tickets: $12-27, including discounts for students, seniors, and members
Sofia Gubaidulina has earned her place among the great living composers. Her singular sound is characterized by a love of unusual sonorities and a deep-seated belief in the mystical properties of music. Quietly encouraged by Shostakovich to boldly pursue what the Soviet establishment perceived as the "wrong course" musically, she fled to Germany, where she cultivated her passion for the avant-garde. This program-her second Portrait at Miller-traces her evolution before and after her relocation to Hamburg, with several solo works as well as larger spiritual tours-de-force. Ten years following her first Portrait at Miller Theatre, after which The New York Times proclaimed she had "taken her place as one of most admired composers now working," this program traces her evolution before and after her relocation to Hamburg. It features several solo works as well as larger spiritual tours-de-force performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, with bassoonist Rebekah Heller and conductor Christian Knapp.
The Boston performance features an alternate program highlighting several intimate chamber works ideally scaled for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum's beautiful new chamber music hall.
Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931) was born in Chistopol in the Tatar Republic of the Soviet Union. After instruction in piano and composition at the Kazan Conservatory, she studied composition with Nikolai Peiko at the Moscow Conservatory, pursuing graduate studies there under Vissarion Shebalin. Until 1992, she lived in Moscow, but since then has made her primary residence in Germany, outside Hamburg. Gubaidulina's compositional interests have been stimulated by the tactile exploration and improvisation with rare Russian, Caucasian, and Asian folk and ritual instruments collected by the "Astreia" ensemble, of which she was a co-founder, by the rapid absorption and personalization of contemporary Western musical techniques (a characteristic, too, of other Soviet composers of the post-Stalin generation including Edison Denisov and Alfred Schnittke), and by a deep-rooted belief in the mystical properties of music. Her uncompromising dedication to a singular vision did not endear her to the Soviet musical establishment, but her music was championed in Russia by a number of devoted performers including Vladimir Tonkha, Friedrich Lips, Mark Pekarsky, and Valery Popov. The determined advocacy of Gidon Kremer, dedicatee of Gubaidulina's masterly violin concerto, Offertorium, helped bring the composer to international attention in the early 1980s. Gubaidulina's scores frequently explore unconventional techniques of sound production. Since 1985, when she was first allowed to travel to the West, Gubaidulina's stature in the world of contemporary music has skyrocketed. She has been the recipient of prestigious commissions from the Berlin, Helsinki, and Holland Festivals; the Library of Congress; the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; the New York Philharmonic; and many other organizations and ensembles. A major triumph was the premiere in 2002 of the monumental two-part cycle, Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ according to St. John, commissioned by the International Bachakademie Stuttgart and the Norddeutschen Rundfunk, Hamburg. Gubaidulina made her first visit to North America in 1987 as a guest of Louisville's "Sound Celebration." She has returned many times since as a featured composer of festivals - Boston's "Making Music Together" (1988), Vancouver's "New Music" (1991), Tanglewood (1997) - and for other performance milestones.
In May 2011, Gubaidulina was feted on the occasion of her 80th birthday in concerts presented by the California Institute of the Arts and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. From the retrospective concert by Continuum (New York, 1989) to the world premieres of commissioned works - Pro et Contra by the Louisville Orchestra (1989); String Quartet No. 4 by the Kronos Quartet (New York, 1994); Dancer on a Tightrope by Robert Mann and Ursula Oppens (Washington, DC, 1994); the Viola Concerto by Yuri Bashmet with the Chicago Symphony conducted by Kent Nagano (1997); Two Paths ("A Dedication to Mary and Martha") for two solo violas and orchestra by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Kurt Masur (1999); and Light of the End by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Masur (2003) - the accolades of American critics have been ecstatic. In January 2007, Gubaidulina was the first woman composer to be spotlighted by the BBC during its annual "composer weekend" in London. Among her most recent compositions are Feast During a Plague (2005), jointly commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and conducted in Philadelphia by Sir Simon Rattle and in Pittsburgh and New York by Sir Andrew Davis; In Tempus Praesens, a violin concerto unveiled at the 2007 Lucerne Festival by Anne-Sophie Mutter with the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of Rattle; and Glorious Percussion, a concerto for five solo percussionists and orchestra premiered in 2008 by Gustavo Dudamel and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Gubaidulina is a member of the Akademie der Künste in Berlin and the Freie Akademie der Künste in Hamburg, of the Royal Music Academy in Stockholm and of the German order "Pour le mérite." She has been the recipient of the Prix de Monaco (1987), the Premio Franco Abbiato (1991), the Heidelberger Künstlerinnenpreis (1991), the Russian State Prize (1992), and the SpohrPreis (1995). Recent awards include the prestigious Praemium Imperiale in Japan (1998), the Sonning Prize in Denmark (1999), the Polar Music Prize in Sweden (2002), the Living Composer Prize of the Cannes Classical Awards (2003), and the Great Distinguished Service Cross of the Order of Merit with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany (2009). In 2004, she was elected as a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Yale University (2009) and the University of Chicago (2011). Gubaidulina has been honored twice with the coveted Koussevitzky International Recording Award. Major releases have appeared on the DG, Chandos, Philips, Sony Classical, BIS, and Berlin Classics labels. Gubaidulina's music is published in North America by G. Schirmer, Inc.
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), described by the New York Times as "one of the most accomplished and adventurous groups in new music," is dedicated to reshaping the way music is created and experienced. With a modular makeup of 33 leading instrumentalists performing in forces ranging from solos to large ensembles, ICE functions as performer, presenter, and educator, advancing the music of our time by developing innovative new works and new strategies for audience engagement. ICE redefines concert music as it brings together new work and new listeners in the 21st century. Since its founding in 2001, ICE has premiered over 500 compositions, the majority of these new works by emerging composers, in venues ranging from alternative spaces to concert halls around the world. The ensemble received the American Music Center's Trailblazer Award in 2010 for its contributions to the field, and received the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming in 2005 and 2010. ICE is Ensemble-in-Residence at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago through 2013. The ICE musicians also serve as Artists-in-Residence at the Mostly Mozart Festival of Lincoln Center through 2013, curating and performing chamber music programs that juxtapose new and old music. ICE has released acclaimed albums on the Nonesuch, Kairos, Bridge, Naxos, Tzadik, New Focus, and New Amsterdam labels, with several forthcoming releases on Mode Records. Recent and upcoming highlights include headline performances at the Lincoln Center Festival (New York), Musica Nova Helsinki (Finland), Wien Modern (Austria), Acht Brücken Music for Cologne (Germany), La Cité de la Musique (Paris), and tours of Japan, Brazil, and France. ICE has worked closely with conductors Ludovic Morlot, Matthias Pintscher, John Adams, and Susanna Mälkki. With leading support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ICE launched ICElab in early 2011. This new program places teams of ICE musicians in close collaboration with six emerging composers each year to develop works that push the boundaries of musical exploration. ICElab projects will be featured in more than one hundred performances from 2011-2014 and documented online through DigitICE, a new online venue, and ICE's blog. ICE's commitment to build a diverse, engaged audience for the music of our time has inspired The Listening Room, a new educational initiative for public schools without in-house arts curricula. Using team-based composition and graphic notation, ICE musicians lead students in the creation of new musical works, nurturing collaborative creative skills and building an appreciation for musical experimentation.
Praised for her "flair" and "deftly illuminated" performances by the New York Times, bassoonist Rebekah Heller is a uniquely dynamic chamber, orchestral and solo musician. Equally comfortable playing established classical works and the newest of new music, Rebekah is a fiercely passionate advocate for the bassoon. An "impressive solo bassoonist" (The New Yorker), she is tirelessly committed to collaborating with composers to expand the modern solo and chamber music repertoire for the instrument. As a member of the renowned International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Rebekah has played at some of the world's most prestigious music festivals, including the Mostly Mozart Festival, the Lincoln Center Festival, the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music, and The Helsinki Musica Nova Festival. She has worked closely with world-renowned composers and conductors such as John Adams, Matthias Pintscher, Dai Fujikura, Ludovic Morlot, Kaija Saariaho and many more. Before moving to New York, Rebekah completed a one-year appointment as Principal Bassoonist of the Jacksonville Symphony, and has also served as Principal Bassoonist with the Atlanta Opera Orchestra, and the Utah Festival Opera. From 2005-2008, Rebekah was a member of the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, Florida. During her time there, she worked with some of today's most innovative and electrifying musical minds, including Michael Tilson Thomas, Robert Spano, Marin Alsop, Oliver Knussen, Yo-Yo Ma, and Christian Tetzlaff. Rebekah received her Master of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Like many of her ICE colleagues, she attended the Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music for her undergraduate studies, where she earned degrees in both Music and English Literature. Besides being a passionate performer, Rebekah is also a dedicated teacher, and has served on the faculties of the University of North Florida, Florida International University, and the Vermont Youth Orchestra's Reveille camp. Rebekah's teachers and musical mentors include John Clouser, Kristin Wolfe Jensen, George Sakakeeny, Michel Debost and Janet Polk. Born in upstate, NY, Rebekah currently lives in Brooklyn.
Columbia University's Miller Theatre is located north of the Main Campus Gate at 116th St. & Broadway on the ground floor of Dodge Hall. Tickets are now available online at www.millertheatre.com. The public may also purchase tickets through the Miller Theatre Box Office in person or at 212/854-7799, M-F, 12-6 p.m. Tickets for performances at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum can be purchased online at www.gardnermuseum.org or at 617/278-5156.