RED NOTE New Music Festival Featured Artists
Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. During a career spanning more than fifty years, she has made lasting contributions to musical life in the United States as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC among others. Tower was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission of sixty-five orchestras. Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony recorded Made in America in 2008 (along with Tambor and Concerto for Orchestra). The album collected three Grammy awards: Best Classical Contemporary Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. In 1990 she became the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders, a piece she wrote for the St. Louis Symphony where she was Composer-in-Residence from 1985-88. Other residencies with orchestras include a 10-year residency with the Orchestra of St. Luke's (1997-2007) and the Pittsburgh Symphony (2010-2011). Tower studied piano and composition at Bennington College and Columbia University. Her earliest works were serial in concept, but her music soon developed the lyricism, rhythmic drive, and colorful orchestration that characterize her subsequent works. She co-founded the Da Capo Chamber Players in 1969 as pianist - its accolades included the 1973 Naumburg Chamber Music Award - but also wrote several well-received pieces for the ensemble. She is currently Asher Edelman Professor of Music at Bard College, where she has taught since 1972. Her music is published by Associated Music Publishers.
Featured pianist, Concert III
Blair McMillen has established himself as one of the most versatile and sought-after pianists today. The New York Times has described him as "riveting," "prodigiously accomplished and exciting," and one of the piano's "brilliant young stars." He has performed in venues both traditional and avant-garde; from Carnegie Hall, the Moscow Conservatory, the Metropolitan Museum, Avery Fisher Hall, Caramoor, Miller Theatre, and the Library of Congress; to (le) Poisson Rouge, Galapagos, the Knitting Factory, and The Stone. Highlights from recent seasons include a performance of the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 1 at the Bard Music Festival, a dozen performances of John Cage's landmark Sonatas and Interludes, and several appearances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Dedicated to new and groundbreaking projects, Blair McMillen is intensely committed to commissioning and performing the music of today. Known for his adventurous and imaginative programming, he has premiered hundreds of works, and constantly works with both established and emerging composers in commissioning new works for the piano. An avid chamber player, Mr. McMillen is pianist for the Naumburg Award-winning Da Capo Chamber Players. He is also the co-founder and director of the Rite of Summer Music Festival on Governor's Island, a classical-contemporary music series which had its inaugural season in Summer 2011. Blair McMillen holds degrees from Oberlin College, the Juilliard School, and Manhattan School of Music. His first solo CD Soundings was released in 2005 to wide critical acclaim. More recent recordings include Powerhouse Pianists on Lumiere, Concert Music of Fred Hersch on Naxos, and Multiplicities: Born in '38 on Centaur. Mr. McMillen lives in New York City and serves on the music faculty at Bard College and Conservatory.
Featured artists, Concert II
With its innovative programming consistently filling venues with a "crowd that other classical presenters would kill to attract" (Chicago Classical Review), the Spektral Quartet has established itself as one of Chicago's most intrepid and adroit ensembles. With a priority on evaporating the perceived boundary between traditional masterworks and the music of the present, Spektral concerts feature the likes of Beethoven and Mozart alongside Carter and Adès.
Hailed by Time Out Chicago as having "forged a reputation for fiercely on-point performances as well as some of the city's most imaginative chamber programming," the Spektral Quartet continues to close the distance between performer and audience member. For its annual Sampler Pack series at the Empty Bottle, quartet movements are extracted and shuffled to explore unexpected artistic connections in an informal bar setting. For 2011's Epistolary program, a film depicting the rising deadline anxieties between quartet and commissioned composer were produced as a comic short film, screened prior to the world premiere of the score in question. As bold advocates for Chicago's dynamic new music scene, Spektral recently produced Break Right Through That Line, a concert featuring works by Northwestern University faculty composers and their protégés.
2012 found the quartet launching its most ambitious project to date: Theatre of War. A seamless integration of music, theatre, film and the spoken word, Chicago-area music critics praised the performance for its stance against societal war-apathy, its donation of ticket proceeds to a veterans organization, and in particular its execution of composer George Crumb's amplified string quartet: "One is unlikely to experience a more powerful, eloquent and intensely moving performance of Black Angels." (Chicago Classical Review)
The 2012-13 season marked the first year of the Spektral's residency at the Music Department at the University of Chicago, where will they direct the department's chamber music program, conduct workshops, and give performances throughout the year.
Learn more at www.spektralquartet.com, or follow on Facebook and Twitter: @SpektralQuartet.
David Kirkland Garner, composer
Winner of the 2013 RED NOTE New Music Festival Composition Competition
David Kirkland Garner is a composer whose music often draws on or inspired by folk traditions from North America and the British Isles. These interests also extend into his research on banjo and fiddle styles of the American South and the traditional fiddling of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. His music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe by groups such as the North Carolina based Ciompi Quartet, the Locrian Chamber Players based in New York and the Vega Quartet from Atlanta. His work Lament for the imagined, written for the Kronos Quartet, premiered in May 2011 in Glasgow, Scotland. David is the recipient of numerous awards including first prize in the 2011 NACUSA Young Composers' Competition, an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award in 2009, an honorable mention for the same award in 2010 and the William Klenz Prize in Music Composition in 2010. Currently, David is a PhD candidate at Duke University. Before coming to Duke, he studied composition at Rice University and the University of Michigan and was a lecturer at Kennesaw State University. David lives in Durham, North Carolina with his wife Bronwen and his dog Niko.
Marcus Maroney, composer
Winner of the 2013 RED NOTE New Music Festival Call for Wind Ensemble Scores
Marcus Maroney studied composition and horn at The University of Texas at Austin (B.M.) and Yale School of Music (M.M., D.M.A.). His principle composition teachers were Joseph Schwantner, Ned Rorem, Joan Tower and Dan Welcher. In 1999, he received a fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center, the First Hearing award from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (for Those Teares are Pearle) and an ASCAP/Morton Gould Young Composer's award. Other awards and fellowships followed, including: a Charles Ives Scholarship from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Music 2000 Prize from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, further awards from ASCAP, a residency at the Copland House and consecutive Woods Chandler Memorial awards from Yale University. Commissions have come from such organizations and individuals as eighth blackbird (Rhythms), the Orchestra of St. Luke's (Hudson), The Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (Introduction and Barrage for the Gryphon Trio), Timothy McAllister (Denk Dir:), the Moores School Percussion Ensemble (Pantheon), the Texas Music Festival (Märchenbilder), the Deer Valley Music Festival (Three Pieces for String Quartet) and the Juventas! New Music Ensemble (Dust of the Road). Mr. Maroney served on the faculty of the Yale School of Music from 2002-2004. He is currently Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Houston's Moores School of Music. His academic pursuits include research on the music and life of Swiss composer Frank Martin, for which he was awarded a grant from the University of Houston for residency at the Paul Sacher Stiftung in Basel. Mr. Maroney is on the Artistic Board of Musiqa, Houston's composer-led new music presenting group.