Read a blog post about the program by Nunc director Miranda Cuckson HERE
(for performer bios, scroll down)
Roventi (2015) by Jonathan Dawe
A single-movement encore piece -of sorts- draws its ideas from a poetic passage plucked from an 18th-Century pedagogical manual in which a particular performance technique is presented: how to execute a delicate staccato on the keyboard. With this meaning (and the metaphors that arise) the music supports with fire, delicate staccato, and suggestive spontaneity. – JD
The innovative and conjured world of composer Jonathan Dawe joins Baroque imagery with a modernist mix, cast with dynamic dramatic flair. Cited for his “quirky, fascinating modernist variations on earlier styles”(Time Out) his music involves the recasting of energies and sounds of the past into decisively new expressions, through compositional workings based upon fractal geometry. Recent pieces and productions have been described as “music of such vitality and drama” (New York Times) “a brake squealing collision of influence” (Boston Globe) and “provocative.” (Time Out) Described as “one of our most talented and distinctive – yet little-known – contemporary composers,” (Seen and Heard International) Dawe has received recent commissions from the Italian Academy, Jack Quartet, and James Levine for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Jonathan Dawe was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1965 and studied at The North Carolina School of the Arts (HS), Oberlin Conservatory (BM) with Richard Hoffmann, and The Juilliard School (MM, DMA) with Milton Babbitt. Upon graduation at Juilliard in 1995 he joined the doctoral faculty where he currently teaches.
Silence of the Sirens (2015) by David Fulmer
Silence of the Sirens is scored for string octet – including three violins, two violas, two celli, and one contrabass. Articulated in a single, uninterrupted movement, virtuosic lines traverse throughout the extreme registers of the instruments to create sonic dialogue between high and low, light and dark. Warm string textures combine with sharp explosive gestures that hover over a tranquil harmonic fundamental, carrying the work from the first phrase all the way until the last final utterances of the collective ensemble. Silence of the Sirens was commissioned by the Callithumpian Consort and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum with generous assistance from Jeffrey Duryea. The work is affectionately dedicated to Stephen Drury. – DF
Four Lauds for solo violin (1984-2000) by Elliott Carter
4 Lauds, a collection of solo violin pieces written at different times, intend to express gratitude to some of the musicians whose friendship has meant so much to me: Aaron Copland, Roger Sessions, Goffredo Petrassi, Robert Mann, Ole Bøhn and Rolf Schulte.
Statement – Remembering Aaron is first of several Lauds of friends of past years for solo violin. This one recalls Aaron Copland whose orchestral Statements has always interested me and includes ideas from his Ukelele Serenade and other works. It also suggests the warmth and generosity and nobility that meant so much to me. This solo was commissioned by Ole Bøhn and was composed in February 1999.
Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi was composed for the 1984 Festival Pontino celebrating the 80th birthday of Petrassi, Italy’ foremost living composer. It was first performed at a festival concert in the medieval refectory of the Abbey of Fossanova, Priverno, Italy by Georg Mönch on June 15, 1984.
Rhapsodic Musings is a present to Robert Mann on his 80th birthday. It is a small tribute to his extraordinarily devoted advocacy of contemporary music. As is well-known, with the other members of the Juilliard Quartet, he gave such pioneering and commanding performances of quartets by Bartók, Schoenberg and many others including my own that many of these works became part of the performers’ repertory. His teaching and other activities brought these scores to the attention of students and the public. Using his initials R.M. in the title of this short violin solo and in its main motive – re, mi (D, E) – this piece tries to suggest some his remarkable human and artistic qualities. It was composed in June 2000, in Southbury, Connecticut.
Deeply convinced of the power of music and his own compositional direction, Roger Sessions was one of the most interesting and widely cultivated persons I have known. His music always impressed me, so when he kindly offered to look over some of my early scores, I was greatly flattered. However, I never studied with him. When we were composers-in-residence in Berlin in 1964, I came to appreciate how his convictions were combined with charm and humor. In this Fantasy for solo violin, written in April 1999 for Rolf Schulte, I have tried to honor Sessions in my own way. -EC
Elliott Carter (1908-2012) is internationally recognized as one of the most influential American voices in classical music, and a leading figure of modernism in the 20th and 21st centuries. He was hailed as “America’s great musical poet” by Andrew Porter and noted as “one of America’s most distinguished creative artists in any field” by Aaron Copland. Carter’s career spanned over 75 years, with more than 150 pieces, ranging from chamber music to orchestral works to opera, often marked with a sense of wit and humor. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1960 for his String Quartet No. 2 and in 1973 for his String Quartet No. 3, and Germany’s Von Siemens Prize and the Prince Pierre Foundation Award. Carter was the first composer to receive the US National Medal of Arts, and was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. In France he was named Commander of the “Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” and Commander of the Legion of Honor. Born in New York City, he was encouraged by Charles Ives and studied under Piston and Holst at Harvard, and in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. He held posts over the years at St. John’s College, Peabody, Yale, Cornell and The Juilliard School. His early works are written in a neoclassical style influenced by his contemporaries Copland, Hindemith, and Stravinsky. Hailed in recent decades as a pathbreaker especially in the areas of tempo relationships and texture, Carter was a late bloomer who found his distinctive style in 1951 with his daringly complex First String Quartet. In that work, he introduced the idea of metric modulation to create the sense of motion between different, independent layers of music. He soon followed this with his Second String Quartet, in which the four parts set up a paradigm of heterogeneous interaction, and many more works in which he further developed his revolutionary ideas of eliminating a uniform rhythmic framework.
“Eco III” (1994) by Michael Jarrell
Rather than adopting the well-known practice in certain 16th-century polyphonic music of superimposing temporal planes, this work aims to superimpose or overprint various semantic planes to be found between the text and the music. The echo is not seen as a pure interaction between a set of given words and notes. As might be expected, the music was built up in relation to the poem, but is more of an echo of the words, like a blurred footprint which communes with silence (presence-absence). There are no dramatic gestures, no flights of fancy one is simply left with an impression, an atmosphere which diminishes the relevance of the question, “Is the explicit meaning of words obscured or magnified by the sounds which are made to correspond with it?” Eco is a setting of Sonnet 80 (1594) by Luis de Gongora. -MJ
Born in Geneva in 1958, Michael Jarrell studied composition at the Geneva
Conservatory with Eric Gaudibert and at various workshops in the United States
(Tanglewood, 1979). He completed his training with Klaus Huber at the Freiburg
Staatliche Hochschule für Musik im Brisgau. Starting in 1982, his works have received numerous prizes: prix Acanthes (1983), Beethovenpreis from the city of Bonn (1986), Marescotti prize (1986), Gaudeamus (1988), Henriette Renié (1988), Siemens Förderungspreis (1990) and Musikpreis der Stadt Wien (2010). Between 1986 and 1988, he was in residence at the Cité des Arts in Paris and took part in the computer music course at Ircam. He resided at the Villa Médicis in Rome during 1988/89, and then joined the Istituto Svizzero di Roma in 1989/90. From October 1991 to June 1993, he was composer in residence with the Lyon Orchestra. Beginning in 1993, he became professor of composition at the University in Vienna. In 1996, he was “composer in residence” at the Lucerne festival, and then was heralded by the Musica Nova Helsinki Festival, which dedicated the festival to him in 2000. In 2001, the Salzburg Festival commissioned a concerto for piano and orchestra entitled Abschied. The same year, he was named “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres”. In 2004, he was named professor of composition at the Geneva Conservatory.
“Divertimento II” (2015) by Diego Tedesco
Divertimento II for violin concertante and five instruments (oboe, bassoon, mandolin, harp and bass) as its name implies, is a constant playing with musical ideas, with derivations, recapitulations and countless deviations. In this one-movement “concertino”, we have a fast section, an adagio, a scherzo and again a fast section. The work was commissioned by Miranda Cuckson for her and the Nunc ensemble. -DT
Born in Buenos Aires and initially self-taught, Diego Tedesco went on to formally study piano, violin, guitar and music theory. His composition teachers were Julio Viera, with whom he also studied counterpoint, harmony and orchestration, and Francisco Kröpfl, who also taught him musical analysis. At the same time, he studied fine arts and graphic design at the University of Buenos Aires. He gained recognition as a composer in 2007 when he was awarded the first prize at the Juan Carlos Paz competition (Argentina’s National Endowment for the Arts) for his work for two choirs, “Amor constante más allá de la muerte” (Constant Love Beyond Death). His works have been performed in music venues in Argentina, the U.S. and Europe. He has received numerous commissions and won a grant from Argentina’s National Endowment for the Arts in 2011. He attended the Composers Conference at Wellesley College in summer of 2014 and in the same year won the most important prize in his country, the “National Award” for symphonic and chamber music (the same Prize that writer Jorge Luis Borges won in 1é956 for “El Aleph” in literature). His music, a constant attempt to synthesize contrast and continuity, is always flowing in waves with plasticity as ideal.
Aroura (1971) by Iannis Xenakis
Aroura, meaning “Earth”, is a one-movement work composed and premiered in 1971 at the Lucerne Festival. Written for twelve string players, the score states that the piece can also be performed by larger-size ensembles. The piece combines elements of aleatoricism (speed of bow attacks and glissandos, different players’ approaches to arpeggiated chords) with a blocky, sectional structure that has the ensemble transitioning from one type of sound to another in a highly unified way. Thus the piece feels viscerally wild and chaotic while also controlled in its larger gestures and sense of temporal proportion and shape. Xenakis’ expressive markings include French terms “rafales” and “saccadé” – “bursts” and “jerky” – evoking the eruptions of machine-gun fire that he experienced as a fighter in the Greek Resistance in the 1940s.
Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001) was among the avant-garde composers who thrillingly revolutionized post-World War II music. A Greek French citizen, he was not only a musician, but an engineer, architect, mathematician and author of theoretical works on music. In his compositions, he incorporated ideas stemming from his scientific interests, pioneering electronic and computer music, and applying stochastic and aleatoric processes, and set and game theory. While his works derive from highly cerebral concepts and treat sounds and sound events as objects put through experimental processes, the results are usually very visceral and emotional. Tension and excitement build up as layers accumulate and clash, and the combination of control and disorder in the rhythm creates a wild sense of motion.
New York City-based musician Brad Balliett is in high demand as a composer and bassoonist. Principal bassoon of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Brad is an artistic director for the chamber music collective Decoda (Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall), and performs with the leading new music groups in New York, including Signal, Metropolis Ensemble, Deviant Septet and Oracle Hysterical. Brad has performed with the Houston Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Musicians, New York City Ballet, ICE, and Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Festival performances include Marlboro, Tanglewood, June in Buffalo, Newport Jazz Festival, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommen, and the Lucerne Festival. With his twin brother, Doug, Brad hosts a weekly radio show on WQXR’s Q2 Music (The Brothers Balliett). He is on faculty at The Juilliard School (Evening Division). Brad graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 2005, and holds an MM from Rice University.
Doug Balliett is a composer, instrumentalist and poet based in New York City. The New York Times has described his poetry as “brilliant and witty” (Clytie and the Sun), his bass playing as “elegant” (Shawn Jaeger’s In Old Virginny), and his compositions as “vivid, emotive, with contemporary twists” (Actaeon). Popular new music blog I Care if You Listen has critiqued Mr. Balliett’s work as “weird in the best possible way” (A Gnostic Passion) and “light-hearted yet dark…it had the audience laughing one minute and in tears the next…” (Pyramus and Thisbe). With a constant stream of commissions, a weekly show on New York Public Radio, and nearly 200 performances per year, Mr. Balliett has been identified as an emerging voice for his generation.
Joseph Brent brings a consummate artistry and dedication to the mandolin, and is helping to shepherd his instrument into the 21st century. He has performed with many chamber ensembles (ICE, Speculum Musicae) and symphony orchestras (Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, New World Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra, New York City Ballet and City Opera). He made his Carnegie Hall solo debut in 2001. He performed in the Miller Theatre portrait of Elliot Carter and was amongst the first artists to participate in the Weill Music Institute’s Carnegie Hall Musical Connections program. In 2013 he performed as soloist with Michael Tilson Thomas and The San Francisco Symphony and with Dawn Upshaw and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He has published two books of mandolin pedagogy, and released his debut album, Point of Departure, featuring duets with harpist Bridget Kibbey. In 2010, he recorded the mandolin works of David Loeb for Vienna Modern Masters. He is on the faculty of Mannes College and has maintained an active career in popular and improvising music. Currently he leads 9 Horses, an improvising chamber ensemble featuring his own compositions and arrangements.
Since her concerto debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at age 17, cellist Julia Bruskin has established herself as one of the premiere cellists of her generation. She performed Samuel Barber’s Cello Concerto with conductor Jahja Ling at Avery Fisher Hall and has also been soloist with the Nashville Symphony, Utah Symphony, Virginia Symphony, and Pacific Symphony among others. Her recent CD of music by Beethoven, Brahms, and Dohnanyi was praised by Fanfare Magazine for its “exquisite beauty of sound and expression”. A founding member of the critically acclaimed Claremont Trio, Ms. Bruskin tours extensively with the ensemble including concerts this year for the Library of Congress, New York’s Lincoln Center and a four concert series featuring Brahms’ trios at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Ms. Bruskin plays frequent recitals with her husband, Aaron Wunsch, and together they direct the Skaneateles Festival in the Finger Lakes region of New York. A graduate of the five-year double degree program at Juilliard and Columbia University, Ms. Bruskin has taught at Queens College and the Juilliard Pre-College and plays with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
Taiwanese cellist, Christine Chen started her musical studies at the age of 5 and gave her debut at the National Concert Hall in Taipei at the age of 10. Ever since, she has been actively performing around the world. Her musical journey has brought her to Ile De Ré, France, Symphony Hall in Boston, De Doelen in Rotterdam, The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and Alice Tully Hall in New York. Chen has recently performed at Carnegie Hall with her piano trio and the Bohemian National Hall with her flute trio. She is currently pursuing her Masters degree with Marcy Rosen at Mannes.
Violinist/violist Miranda Cuckson is in great demand as a soloist and chamber musician in a range of repertoire. Downbeat magazine recently stated, “Violinist Miranda Cuckson reaffirms her standing as one of the most sensitive and electric interpreters of new music.” Called “top-notch in all respects” (Sequenza 21) and “an artist to be reckoned with” (Gramophone), she has performed at such venues as the Berlin Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, Library of Congress, Teatro Colón, Miller Theatre, 92nd Street Y, Guggenheim Museum, BAM, Museum of Modern Art, Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles, Liquid Music in St. Paul, and the Marlboro, Bard, Lincoln Center, Bridgehampton, Music Mountain, Portland and Bodensee festivals. She made her Carnegie Hall concerto debut in Walter Piston’s concerto with the American Symphony Orchestra and Leon Botstein. The McKim Fund of the Library of Congress commissioned for her a new work by Harold Meltzer. Her ten lauded solo/duo CDs include music by Nono (a New York Times Best Recording of 2012), Shapey, Hersch, Martino, Finney, Carter, Eckardt, Sessions, Haas, Xenakis, Korngold, Ponce, Bartók, Schnittke and Lutoslawski on the Centaur, Vanguard, Urlicht and ECM labels. She is founder/director of Nunc, a member of counter)induction and a guest curator at National Sawdust. She studied at Juilliard, where she received her doctorate and won the Presser and Richard French Awards. She is on the violin faculty at Mannes College.
David Fulmer has garnered numerous international accolades for his bold compositional aesthetic combined with his thrilling performances. The success of his Violin Concerto at Lincoln Center in 2010 resulted in immediate engagement to perform the work with major orchestras and festivals in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, and Australia. Fulmer made his European debut performing and recording his concerto with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Matthias Pintscher in 2011. New commissions and recent performances include the Berlin Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, New York Philharmonic, Slovenian Philharmonic, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Carnegie Hall, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Salzburg Foundation, BMI, Concert Artists Guild, Washington Performing Arts and Fromm Foundation. He recently led the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, ICE and Elision. Next season marks important debuts leading the Ensemble Intercontemporain, Szczecin Philharmonic, and South Netherlands Philharmonic. He was recently the recipient of the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Surinach Commissioning Award from BMI. He holds a doctorate from Juilliard, and joined the faculty of Columbia University in 2009.
Following his performance of cello music by Charles Wuorinen, The Strad Magazine wrote about cellist Christopher Gross: “The tone of Gross’s cello enveloped the crowd [as he] showed energy and intonational accuracy, even when racing around the fingerboard.” He is a founding member of the Talea Ensemble, and has appeared as guest with ensembles including I.C.E., Cygnus, Flux Quartet, and at venues including Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Disney Hall, and Bargemusic. He is currently on faculty at Lehigh University and is a Teaching Artist with the New York Philharmonic. He recently received his doctoral degree from Juilliard in New York.
Born to diplomat parents, harpist June Han lived in Belgium, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, The Netherlands, and France prior to her arrival in the United States in 1994. She has been hailed as a “true and tasteful harpist . . . [with] exceptionally varied phrasing and a surprising yet innate sense of timing” (Concert Review Magazine). Dr. Han is a member of Sequitur Ensemble, Ensemble 21, and Manhattan Sinfonietta and has performed with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Speculum Musicae, Music from Japan, the Group for Contemporary Music, Jupiter Chamber Players, and Bronx Art Ensemble. An active orchestral player, she has collaborated with Orchestre de Paris, Kirov Opera Orchestra, Mariinsky Orchestra, and New York City Opera, to name a few, and frequently appears with the New York Philharmonic. She currently serves on the faculties of Columbia University, Pre-College Division at The Juilliard School, and Bowdoin International Music Festival.
Described by the New York Times as “a soprano of extraordinary agility and concentration,” and the Boston Globe as “sensational,” Mary Elizabeth Mackenzie has captured the attention of audiences throughout the United States. Ms. Mackenzie has collaborated with Pierre Boulez, John Harbison, Richard Danielpour, and James Primosch; and works closely with young composers to develop and premiere new works for voice. She has appeared with ACME, Chameleon Arts Ensemble, Collage New Music, Continuum, Ekmeles, Da Capo Chamber Players, Fulcrum Point New Music Project, AXIOM Ensemble and New Juilliard Ensemble, Le Train Bleu, Metropolis Ensemble and Talea Ensemble. Notable solo appearances include Harbison’s Closer to My Own Life with the Albany Symphony; Elliott Carter’s Warble for Lilac Time with the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; Jean Barraqué’s Chant Aprés Chant with the Juilliard Percussion Ensemble; Boulez’s Improvisations sur Mallarmé Nos. 1 & 2 for the composer’s 85th birthday at Miller Theatre; Reinbert De Leeuw’s Im wunderschönen Monat Mai at Bravo Vail; Héctor Parra’s Hypermusic: Ascensionat the Guggenheim Museum; Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2 with the Borromeo String Quartet; and Pierrot Lunaire at Town Hall Seattle and Rockport Music Festival.
Violinist Yuri Namkung performs in venues throughout New York City, and has also appeared in Panama at Frank Gehry’s Biodiversity Museum with UNESCO and Unicef Artist for Peace jazz pianist Danilo Perez, Kennedy Center, Jordan Hall, Gardner Museum, Ravinia Festival, and at Music@Menlo.Major solo appearances include performances with the Seattle Symphony, Northwest Chamber Orchestra, Spokane Bach Festival Orchestra with Gunther Schuller, Dubuque Symphony, Greenville Symphony, Wyoming Symphony, Santa Maria Philharmonic, Tonhalle-Orchestra with David Zinman, and with the Filarmonica Joven de Colombia throughout Colombia and Brazil. Born in Seattle, Washington, Yuri is a graduate of Columbia University, the Juilliard School, and the New England Conservatory.
First-year MM violinist studying with Laurie Smukler, Isabel Ong has often been involved at charity functions and benefit concerts playing solo projects and collaborating with other musicians. She performed at ASAP’s 15th’s anniversary honoring their service of spreading higher education and healthier living conditions for the people of Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Additionally, she appeared in Muhammad Ali’s Charity Concert at the Howard Performing Arts Center. Isabel is very active on 3ABN (Christian-related media), and was invited to WNIT TV (a PBS member station) and Taiwan Channel 16. She has performed in Bermuda, Bahamas, Canada and the United States. In 2012, she was asked by Aletheia University of Taiwan to perform their 130th anniversary concert providing a recital of Western Classical music and Chinese folk pieces. Ms. Ong is a member of the New Juilliard Ensemble. She performed in two of MOMA’s annual Summergarden concerts this past summer and will be performing in Juilliard’s Focus Festival at the end of January.
Christopher Otto is a violinist and composer from Champaign, IL. As a founding member of the JACK Quartet, he has performed contemporary music throughout the world and premiered works from composers such as Chaya Czernowin, Georg Friedrich Haas, Wolfgang von Schweinitz, Elliott Sharp, Simon Steen-Andersen, Walter Zimmermann, and John Zorn. JACK’s recordings include the complete quartets of Iannis Xenakis and Helmut Lachenmann and albums of the music of John Luther Adams, Jason Eckardt, Lewis Nielson, Amy Williams, Lei Liang, Miguel Frasconi, Alex Mincek, Ken Thomson, Matthew Barnson, and Ha-Yang Kim.