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Yardumian, Richard

A twentieth century American composer whose music features considerable religious and mystical infiltration, Richard Yardumian was not a child prodigy nor did he even exhibit any particular interest in music until he began the study of piano and music theory in his twenties. His work attracted the attention of José Iturbi in the 1930s and beginning in 1944, that of Eugene Ormandy, who championed it and performed and even recorded many of his pieces with the prestigious Philadelphia Orchestra. Yardumian studied with American composer Virgil Thomson between the years 1952 and 1954. His works include at least two symphonies, a violin concerto, Armenian Suite, Chorale Prelude, and a larger choral work entitled Come, Creator Spirit. His music is twelve-tone in nature, but not severely dissonant or harsh, relying instead on inspirational themes. He is quoted as saying, “I hold the strong belief that the sooner the churches take up again the promotion and encouragement of the arts, the sooner might be born — centuries from now — another Johann Sebastian Bach!”

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Del Aguila, Miguel

Three-time Grammy nominated American composer MIGUEL DEL AGUILA was born 1957 in Montevideo, Uruguay. In more than 115 works that couple drama and driving rhythm with nostalgic nods to his South American roots, he has established himself among the most distinctive and highly regarded composers of his generation. His music has been performed worldwide by over 96 orchestras, by thousands of ensembles and soloists, and recorded on 34 CDs.

He was honored in 2010 with two Latin Grammy nominations, for his CD Salón Buenos Aires, and for his work Clocks. 2015 he received a third Grammy nomination for Concierto en Tango which two years after its premiere has been scheduled for 27 orchestra performances worldwide. His works are recorded on Naxos, Dorian, Telarc, New Albion, Albany, Centaur, and Eroica, among others.

After graduating from the San Francisco Conservatory he studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna where early premieres of his works won him praise from audiences and press. In 1989 he introduced his music at New York’s Carnegie Recital Hall, Lukas Foss premiered his Hexen with Brooklyn Philharmonic, and his first CDs were released.

After 10 years in Vienna, Aguila returned to the U.S. in 1992 where soon the Los Angeles Times described him as “one of the West Coast’s most promising young composers.” He received the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award 1995 and by the 1990s his works were performed at Lincoln Center, London’s Royal Opera House, and in most European capitals. 2001-2004 he was Resident Composer at Chautauqua Festival and 2005-2007 Composer in Residence with the New Mexico Symphony through a New Music USA/Music Alive Award. His residency culminated in premiere of his third opera Time and Again Barelas. He received a New Music USA/Magnum Opus Award in 2008, the Lancaster Symphony Composer of the Year Award 2009, and Copland Foundation awards, among others.

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Fairouz, Mohammed

Mohammed Fairouz, born in 1985, is one of the most frequently performed, commissioned, and recorded composers working today. Hailed by The New York Times as “an important new artistic voice” and by BBC World News as “one of the most talented composers of his generation,” his large-scale works engage major geopolitical and philosophical themes with persuasive craft and a marked seriousness of purpose. Fairouz’s cosmopolitan outlook reflects his transatlantic upbringing and extensive travels. His catalog encompasses virtually every genre, including opera, symphonies, vocal and choral settings, chamber and solo works.

As an artist involved with major social issues, Fairouz seeks to promote cultural communication and understanding. Recent major works have included his “grandly ambitious” (Opera News) third symphony, Poems and Prayers interweaves texts of Arab poets Fadwa Tuqan and Mahmoud Darwish, the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, and prayers such as the Aramaic Kaddish. His fourth symphony, In the Shadow of No Towers for wind ensemble, about American life in the aftermath of 9/11 premiered in 2013 at Carnegie Hall was described by Steve Smith of The New York Times as “technically impressive, consistently imaginative and in its finest stretches deeply moving.”

Fairouz became the youngest composer on the Deutsche Grammophon label to have an album dedicated to his works with the 2015 release of Follow, Poet. The album includes two works that exalt the transformative power of language: his elegiac song cycle Audenesque and the ballet Sadat. The album has met with broad critical acclaim – praised as “captivating” by The New York Times and receiving “highbrow and brilliant” distinctions in New York Magazine’s taste-making Approval Matrix.

Since childhood, Fairouz has found musical inspiration in literary and philosophical sources and has composed an opera, an oratorio, fifteen song cycles, and hundreds of art songs. He describes himself as “obsessed with text” and has been recognized by New Yorker magazine as an “expert in vocal writing” and described by Gramophone as “a post-millennial Schubert.” He has collaborated directly with distinguished poets Mahmoud Darwish, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Nobel Prize-winner Seamus Heaney, and with writers Mohammed Hanif and David Ignatius. Among the eminent singers that have performed his vocal music are Kate Lindsey, Sasha Cooke, Isabel Leonard, Nathan Gunn and Anthony Roth Costanzo. Fairouz’s opera, Sumeida’s Song has been performed at the Prototype Festival, the Pittsburgh Opera and the Boston Opera Collaborative and recorded on Bridge. Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times called the work “an intensely dramatic 60-minute four-character opera with a searing score.”

Prominent advocates of his instrumental music include the cellist Maya Beiser, the Borromeo, Del Sol and Lydian String Quartets, The Imani Winds, violinists Rachel Barton Pine and Chloë Hanslip, flutist Claire Chase and clarinetist David Krakauer, The Knights Chamber Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble LPR and the Metropolis Ensemble. Commissions have come from the Detroit and Alabama Symphony Orchestras, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and Indianapolis Symphony, Beth Morrison Projects, Dutch National Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

His music has been performed at major venues around the country including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Boston’s Symphony Hall and The Kennedy Center, and throughout the United States, the Middle East, Europe, and Australia. Recordings are available on the Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, Bridge, Sono Luminus, Albany, GM/Living Archive, and GPR labels.

Fairouz has been seen and heard on the BBC, NPR’s, The World, and has been profiled by the Wall Street Journal, Agence France Presse, Los Angeles Times, Symphony, Strings, and New Music Box, and been regularly featured on New York’s WQXR and on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Fairouz regularly blogs about the intersection of arts and international affairs for the Huffington Post.

His principal teachers in composition have included György Ligeti, Gunther Schuller, and Richard Danielpour, with studies at the Curtis Institute and New England Conservatory. Fairouz has lectured and led residencies across the country at the Festival of New American Music and at Columbia, Brown, New York University and University of California at Los Angeles. He has served on the faculty at Northeastern University in Boston.

Fairouz lives in New York City.

Works list coming soon.

(Photo by Samantha West)

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Crawford, Ruth

Ruth Crawford was born to an itinerant Methodist minister and his wife. The family resided in Jacksonville, Florida when Crawford’s father died in 1914. Upon graduating high school Crawford entered Foster’s School of Musical Art, studying piano. The Foster School relocated to Miami in 1921, and Crawford enrolled in the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. Originally planning to take a one-year teaching certificate in piano, she stayed until 1929, studying composition and theory with Adolf Weidig. Weidig encouraged her early efforts, and with her first Piano Preludes of 1924 Crawford had already developed her own unique, “ultra-modern” voice.

In 1926 Crawford composed her Sonata for Violin and Piano, performed often at modern music concerts in the late twenties; critics remarked that Crawford could “sling dissonances like a man”. She was recognized early on as a woman composer who did not fit the sentimental stereotypes associated with the standard profile. In Chicago, Crawford joined the circle of Djana Lavoie Herz, pianist and ex-follower of Scriabin; through Herz she met Dane Rudyhar, Henry Cowell and pianist Richard BŸhlig. Cowell quickly enjoined Crawford’s cause, arranging for performances of her music in New York and publishing it in the periodical New Music Quarterly. Crawford worked as a piano teacher for the children of poet Carl Sandburg; it was he who first interested her in American folksongs. She contributed arrangements to his 1927 book The American Songbag, and later created significant original settings to eight of his poems.

By 1930, Ruth Crawford was a force to be reckoned with in American modernism. Stylistically her work stood out in its uncompromising use of dissonance, contrapuntal ostinati, striking choice of texts and tidy formal construction. In March 1930 Crawford won a Guggenheim Fellowship to travel to Europe; the first woman so honored. In Berlin Crawford composed “Three Chants” set to a wordless text for women’s chorus; this eerie, experimental work has no obvious parallels to any music written before the 1960s. The following year witnessed her most famous work, String Quartet 1931, and with its publication Crawford provided the definitive foil to the old maxim that women “just can’t write” classical music with the strength and seriousness of male composers.

In 1929 she began study with Charles Seeger, a key figure in American music as a composer, theorist and musicologist. They married in 1932, with Ruth assuming responsibility for his children of a previous marriage, including son Pete, soon to become America’s best known folksinger. She likewise adopted several of Seeger’s theoretical methods that mark the works of her most productive period, 1930-33, however, her composing comes to a virtual standstill after 1934.

Among her children with Seeger were daughter Peggy and son Mike, both to become renowned folksingers and teachers in adulthood. In 1936 the Seegers moved to Washington, D.C. to work in folksong collecting for the Library of Congress. Crawford acted as transcriber for the book Our Singing Country and, with Charles Seeger, Folk Song USA, both authored by John and Alan Lomax.

As Ruth Crawford Seeger she published her own pioneering collection, American Folk Songs for Children, in 1948, designed for use in elementary grades. This and the other “Crawford Seeger” books of the kind are yet regarded as key texts in primary music education, and were widely adopted and imitated in the field. Crawford only returned to serious composition with the Suite for Wind Quintet in 1952. By the time it was completed, she learned she had cancer and Ruth Crawford died at the age of 52, ending prematurely a career that had begun with extraordinary promise.

by David Lewis, taken from www.peggyseeger.com

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Boyman, Michael

Composer and violist Michael Boyman is always searching for the perfect balance of form and expression. His music often tells a story, whether from literature, visual art or personal experience, and he aims to present that story in the most vivid and emotionally intense way. Michael is the recipient of the BMI William Schuman Award and was recently featured in the 2017 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. His upcoming projects include an extended chamber work for the Parhelion Trio and an orchestral work for The Chelsea Symphony to be premiered during the 2017-18 season.

An alumnus of the New York Youth Symphony, Michael served as principal violist of the orchestra and was a member of Making Score, the organization’s composition program. Michael is a graduate of New York University, where he studied political science and music composition, studying privately with Justin Dello Joio. He received his Master’s Degree in Composition from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied privately with Richard Danielpour.

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