Shulamit Ran has never forgotten
that a vital essence of
composition is communication.–Chicago Tribune
This sort of reaction is by no means unusual. Around the country, commentary on Ran’s music typically runs thus: “gloriously human” and “compelling not only for its white-hot emotional content but for its intelligence and compositional clarity.”
It is hardly surprising, then, that Symphony, which has drawn references to “the superior quality of her musical imagination and artistic invention” and hailed as “a work that will reward each new listening” won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Ran’s work displays an emotional quality and technical superiority that has led critics to acclaim her work as “written with the same sense of humanity found in Mozart’s most profound opera arias or Mahler’s searching symphonies.”
Shulamit Ran began composing songs to Hebrew poetry at the age of seven in her native Israel. By nine she was studying composition and piano with some of Israel’s most noted musicians, including composers Alexander U. Boskovich and Paul Ben-Haim, and within several years was having her early works performed by professional musicians, as well as orchestras. She continued her studies in the U.S., on scholarships from the Mannes College of Music in New York and the America Israel Cultural Foundation.
Her music has been played by major orchestras including the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, and the Jerusalem Symphony. Maestros Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Christoph Von Dohnanyi, Gustavo Dudamel, Zubin Mehta, Gary Bertini, Yehudi Menhuin, David Shalon, and various others, have conducted her works. She also served as Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1990-1997) and with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (1994-1997), the latter culminating in the performance of her first opera Between Two Worlds (The Dybbuk).
In recent seasons Shulamit’s second string quartet (Vistas) and her third quartet (Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory) have received multiple performances by the Juilliard Quartet and the Pacifica Quartet respectively, in major venues in North America, Europe, and Asia. Birkat Haderekh – Blessing for the Road, a chamber work commissioned for the 75th anniversary of the Tanglewood Music Festival, received its premiere in the summer of 2015, and Stream, commissioned by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society for its 30th anniversary season for the Brentano Quartet with clarinet virtuoso Anthony McGill, was premiered in April 2016, followed in the summer of 2016 by the premiere of Love’s Call for SongFest’s 20th anniversary.
Among long-range compositional projects Shulamit Ran is now composing Anne Frank, an opera based on a libretto by Charles Kondek to be produced and premiered in the fall of 2020 by the Indiana University Opera and Ballet Theater, Jacobs School of Music, conducted by Arthur Fagen.
Along with winning the Pulitzer Prize, she has been awarded most major honors given to composers in the U.S., including first prize in the Kennedy Center-Friedheim Awards competition for orchestral music, two Guggenheim Foundation fellowships, grants from the N.E.A., the Koussevitzky Foundation at the Library of Congress, Chamber Music America, and many more.
The recipient of five honorary doctorates, Shulamit Ran is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2011 she was the Paul Fromm Composer-in-Residence at the American Academy in Rome. She recently retired from the University of Chicago, where she taught since 1973, and where she was the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Music, serving also as Artistic Director of Contempo (Contemporary Chamber Players).
Ran has guest taught in many settings. In 1987, she was Visiting Professor at Princeton University, and in 2010 she was the Howard Hanson Visiting Professor of Composition at Eastman School of Music. Her numerous residencies in festivals and summer programs across the U.S. have included the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Institute, Yellow Barn, the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival, Wellesley Composers Conference, and many more. She also served as music director for “Tempus Fugit,” the International Biennial for Contemporary Music in Israel, in 1996-2000. In the summer of 2018 she was composer-in-residence with the Marlboro Festival as well as at the International String Quartet Competition and Festival in Banff, Canada.
Her works are published by Theodore Presser Company and by the Israeli Music Institute and recorded on more than a dozen different labels.
Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation Solo Connecting The Dots(‘Beethoven – Ninth’ Bagatelle)
For Solo Piano
5:00 Piano East WindFor Solo Flute 6:00 Flute Fantasy VariationsFor Violoncello 14:00 Cello For An Actor: Monologue for Clarinet (In A) 8:00 Clarinet (in A) HallelFor Solo Organ 8:00 Organ Hyperbolae 7:00 Piano InscriptionsFor Solo Violin 10:00 Violin Perfect StormFor Viola 1030 Viola Piano Sonata No. 2 Piano Short Piano Pieces 12:00 Piano Sonata WaltzerFor Piano 10:00 Piano Spiritfor solo Bb Clarinet 7:00 Clarinet in Bb Three Scenes for ClarinetFor Solo Clarinet 8:00 Clarinet Verticals 17:00 Piano Unaccompanied Chamber Ensemble A DueFor Violin And Violoncello 15:00 String Duet A PrayerFor Horn and Instruments 6:00 Chamber Ensemble Another Wedding MarchFor Piano, Four Hands 2:10 Piano 4 Hands Bach-ShardsPrelude To Contrapunctus X From “The Art Of The Fugue” 4:00 String Quartet Birds Of ParadiseFor Flute And Piano 12:00 Flute, Piano Birkat Haderekh – Blessing for the Road IIFor Bb Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Violin, Cello, Percussion, and Piano 6:00 Mixed Ensemble Birkat Haderekh–Blessing For The RoadFor Bb Clarinet, Violin, Violoncello And Piano 6:00 Mixed Quartet Chicago SkylineFanfare for Brass and Percussion 7:00 4Tpt., 6Hn., 3Tbn.(B.Tbn.), 2Tu., Timp., 3Perc. Concerto Da Camera IFor Woodwind Quintet 15:00 Woodwind Quintet Concerto Da Camera IIFor Clarinet, String Quartet, and Piano 17:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments) Double Visionfor Two Quintets and Piano 22:00 1 1 2 1 – 1 2 2 0; Pno. EnsembleMusic for Piano, 4 Hands Piano 4 Hands Excursions 20:00 Piano Trio FanfareFor 2 Trumpets, 2 Horns, and Trombone 4:00 Brass Quintet Fault Linefor Ensemble 15:00 Solo Sop.(opt.); 1(dbl. Picc.) 1(dbl.E.H.) 2(dbl.E-flat Cl., dbl.B.Cl.) 0 – 1 1 1 0; 2Perc. Pno. Str.(188.8.131.52.1) Glitter, Doom, Shards, MemoryString Quartet No. 3 23:00 String Quartet InvocationFor Horn, Chimes, and Timpani 4:10 Horn, Chimes, Timpani Logan PromenadesFor Two Trumpets In C 4:00 Brass Duet Lyre Of OrpheusFor String Sextet 15:00 String Sextet Mirage 12:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments) Moon SongsA Song Cycle In Four Acts for Soprano, Flute (Doubling Piccolo), Violoncello, and Piano 26:00 Voice and Instrument Private GameFor Bb Clarinet and Violoncello 4:00 Mixed Duet SoliloquyFor Violin, Cello, and Piano – Score and Parts 8:00 Piano Trio SonatinaFor Two Flutes 6:00 Flute Duet Song and DanceDuo for Saxophones and Percussion 11:00 Saxophone Duet StreamFor Clarinet And String Quartet 16:00 Clarinet Quintet String Quartet No. 1 24:00 String Quartet String Quartet No. 2“Vistas” 25:00 String Quartet Three Fantasy PiecesFor Cello and Piano 22:00 Cello, Piano Under the Sun’s Gaze(Concerto da Camera III) 19:00 2(dbl. AltoFl., Picc.) 0 2(dbl. 2B.Cl.) 0 Sop.Sax. – 0 0 0 0; 1Perc. Pno. Vln. Vcl. Violin ConcertoSolo Violin And Piano Reduction 32:00 Violin, Piano Orchestra Concerto for Orchestra 25:00 2 2 3 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno. Str. Legends 22:00 3(Picc./A.Fl.) 2(E.H.) 3(EbCl./2B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.)- 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 2; Timp. 5Perc. Pno. Cel. Hp. Str. Silent Voices 8:00 Reader (opt.); 1(dbl. Picc.) 1 1(dbl. B.Cl.) 1 – 1 1 1 0; Perc. Pno. Str.(184.108.40.206.1) Symphony 34:00 2(Picc.) 2(E.H.) 3(2EbCl./A(Cl./B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 6 4 3 1; Timp. Perc. Str. Ten Children’s Scenes 12:00 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2 2 – 2 2 1 0; Timp. Perc. Cel. Str. Vessels of Courage and Hope 12:30 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(E-flat Cl. B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 5Perc. Pno. Str. Orchestra w/ Soloist(s) Concert Piecefor Piano and Orchestra 12:00 Solo Pno.; 4 2 4 3 – 5 4 3 1; Perc. Str.or 2 2 2 2 – 4 2 3 1; Perc. Str. The Show Goes On (Ha’hatzaga Nimshechet)Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra 15:00 Solo Cl. (B-flat, A); 2 1 2 2 – 2 2 2 0; Timp. 3Perc. Str. Three Fantasy Movementsfor Cello and Orchestra 23:00 Solo Vcl.; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 0; Timp. 2Perc. Str. Violin Concerto 32:00 Solo Vln.; 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2(dbl.EbCl. / B.Cl.) 2(dbl.Cbsn.) – 2 2 2 0; 2Perc.(Timp.) Cel. Str. VoicesFor a Flautist with Orchestra 16:00 Solo Fl.(dbl. Ampl.AltoFl./Picc.); 2(dbl.Picc.) 2 2(dbl.B.Cl.) 2 – 2 2 2(B.Tbn.) 1; 3Perc. Str. Opera Between Two WorldsOpera in 2 acts. Full evening 2(2Picc./AltoFl.) 1(E.H.) 2(2EbCl./AltoCl.) 1(Cbsn.) – 1 2 2(B.Tbn.) 0; 3Perc. Pno. Hp. Str. (4 2 2 1) 3 Shofars (recorded shofar and sampled shofar sounds may be subsitituted) Vocal / Choral Adonai MalachPsalm 93 5:00 Voice, Piccolo, Oboe, Clarinet in Bb, Horn in F Amichai SongsFor Mezzo-Soprano, Oboe/English Horn, Viola Da Gamba, and Harpsichord 18:00 Mezzo-Soprano, Oboe/English Horn, Viola da Gamba, Harpsichord ApprehensionsFor Voice, Clarinet and Piano 20:00 Voice, Clarinet, Piano Ensembles for 17 18:00 Sop. Solo(Amplified); 2Fl.(Picc./A.Fl.) 2Cl. (EbCl./B.Cl.) Sarrussophone, Bsn. Hn. Tpt. Tbn. B.Tbn. 2Perc. Pno. 2Vln. Vla. Vcl. FanfareFor Five Sopranos 4:00 Vocal Ensemble Hatzvi Israel Eulogy 6:00 Mezzo Sop.; Fl. Hp. Str. Love’s Call 7:30 Voice, Piano O The ChimneysFor Mezzo-soprano Voice And Chamber Ensemble With Tape 18:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments) Sonnet 73For SATB Chorus A Cappella 5:00 SATB Supplicationsfor Chorus and Orchestra 7:00 SATB Chorus; 3(Picc.) 2 2(dbl. A Cl. / Eb Cl.) 2 – 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 0: Timp. 4Perc. Str. The Humble Shall Inherit The Earth(Psalm 37) 5:35 SATB
…Ran’s music was gloriously human, whether slow or fast, solo or ensemble. Within the parameters of her style, she has written with the same sense of humanity found in Mozart’s most profound opera arias or Mahler’s searching symphonies… Ran’s music had the shape and the build to an emotional peak that great speakers exploit so effectively.
She has a distinct artistic profile, based on the same things that distinguish all the great composers of the past, the superior quality of her musical imagination and artistic invention.
–Robert C. Marsh, Chicago Sun-Times
…She firmly grasps a principle that makes all the difference in how contemporary music hits the listener’s ear. She genuinely seems to want her audiences to follow her train of musical thought.
–Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Sun-Times
Shulamit Ran’s smart, sinewy music is the genuine article. Its tone of intelligence is congruent with its sense of aliveness, necessity, soul.
–The Boston Globe
… a powerful 20+ minute, four-song cycle based on poems from Sylvia Plath’s Winter Trees. Yes, it is Sylvia Plath, and there is gloom and doom, but this work is too good to be ignored. It wil grab and hold your attention. Diane Ragains’ sung, half-spoken and spoken delivery of the text is at times blood curdling, and throughout this work is heard a committed and virtuoso performance by this trio … one of the best large works in the soprano/clarinet repertoire.
–William Nichols, The Clarinet
Ran draws you into the bleak, pained, uneasy imagery of the Plath poetry in a way that makes you feel at once assaulted, ennobled, and spiritually cleansed.
One should never use the term masterpiece for a work one has just heard for the first time. So let me say this: the force with which Ran’s “Apprehensions”… hit me on first hearing has been equaled only twice before by 20th century vocal works— by Schoenberg’s “Pierrot Lunaire” and Britten’s “Illuminations.”
–Stephen Wigler, Baltimore Sun
Shulamit Ran’s “Apprehensions” for soprano, clarinet and piano – a major work and significant contribution to the medium…
–William Nichols, The Clarinet
…Israeli by birth and a dramatic philosopher by musical inclination… powerful…
–The Washington Post
Prelude To Contrapunctus X From “The Art Of The Fugue”
…a highlight of the concert.
–Michael Cameron, Chicago Tribune
BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (THE DYBBUK)
Opera in Two Acts
This was Ran’s first opera, but her writing for voice is every bit as colorful as her orchestral works…
–William Shackelford, Opera (England)
… is the most powerful new music-theater piece to emerge from Lyric’s composer-in-residence program and just might be the one that will last… Ran’s sophisticated music drives the drama rather than merely illustrating it…
…strong stuff… Ran drew upon everything from faux-Hassidic lament to creepy Bartokian slithers, conventional arioso and spoken word, fusing these diverse elements with her usual craft and sophistication… she writes with remarkable assurance for voices… Charles Kondek worked minor miracles in pruning, reworking and distilling a talky four-act play into a libretto that clearly fired Ran’s musical imagination… With amplified and prerecorded voices echoing through the theater, and prayer-shawl-clad Wandering Spirits haunting the spooky recesses of Korogodsky’s semi-abstract stage, the opera’s two worlds – the spiritual and the profane – merged in a rather wonderful way…
It is a potent tale, and the libretto is nicely rendered in a singable poetic style… Ms. Ran, the 1991 Pulitzer Prize winner, is unquestionably a gifted concert composer, and her orchestra writing is the real glory of this opera… Wonderful colors emerge from the pit… Leitmotifs and musical themes are assembled with great sophistication.
–James Paulik, New Music Connoisseur
…Ran’s score is formidable. Resisting the soft, meditative trends of the 90’s, she sticks with a language as mercurially free as atonality but uses dramatic gestures that ground the ear in the familiar…
–David Patrick Stearns, USA Today
…The opera delivers… the music lends itself extraordinarily well to dramatic interpretation. It is cleverly orchestrated, generally with a free-tonality, though with appropriate references to Klezmer and liturgical music. Shulamit Ran has succeeded in writing an impressive synthesis in which she gives full vocal lines to the singers – in contrast to the philosophy of so many contemporary German composers… this opera received long ovations, with cheering… New productions of “Between Two Worlds – The Dybbuk” are strongly recommended as Ms. Ran and her librettist have given something rare to contemporary music theater: a work of substance at the highest musical level, which shuns banalities yet speaks to the ear of the audience. This happy combination is rare in contemporary music theater…
–Neue Westfalische (Bielefeld, Germany)
…extremely successful premiere of the opera The Dybbuk by Shulamit Ran… Her opera is a great musical achievement… A CD recording would be highly desirable…
The music of Shulamit Ran, for many years Composer-in-Residence of the Chicago Symphomy, is alive with a subtle mixture of melodic material, both dancing and lamenting Klezmer-motives, iridescent clusters and folklore – but this is also a score that always allows the soloists to sing effortlessly. She works tonally and atonally and expertly illuminates the story with leitmotives… wonderful music…
…impresses with its strength of expression… The orchestral accompaniment plays ecstatic accents and at the same time sets the rhythm for the impressive vocal lines. On top of this, there are elements of folklore and musical passages of the Jewish liturgy. Between Two Worlds is an inspiring opera… A moving experience!
…Shulamit Ran has composed a remarkable opera…
–Westfalische Rundschau (Germany)
…Shulamit Ran has composed this love story with strong expressive sounds that equally impress with both the horror of possession and great emotions…
–Munstersche Zeitung (Germany)
…A fascinating opera evening…
–Westfalischer Anzeiger (Germany)
…an impressive piece on several levels. Musically, it has the vivid orchestral color and highly charged vocal writing so typical of Ran, winner of the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for music… and Ran’s score ranged easily from cheery klezmer-shaded tunes to austere but compelling love duets… unmistakably a 20th century work, though anyone expecting unrelenting dissonance or constantly high decibel levels would be disappointed. “Between Two Worlds” is above all a compelling story, not a polemic for a given musical style.
–Wynne Delacoma, Sunday Sun-Times (Chicago)
BIRKAT HADEREKH (BLESSING FOR THE ROAD)
…Ran’s delicately tinted chamber work…glowed with a sense of gentle but firm supplication, its title rendered from the Hebrew as “Blessing for the Road.”
–Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe
…it has a celebratory quality, captured in both the vivid solo writing for each instrument and the stream of brief dialogues between them.
–Allan Kozinn, Wall Street Journal
Ran’s “Concert Piece for Piano and Orchestra” is not a lengthy work, but it packs quite a wallop… The orchestration is imaginative and the piano part is extremely brilliant, with several big cadenzas, much rapid, scampering, highly percussive passage work… This piece, though short, is large in emotional scale… the extroverted quality of this vivid piece won for it a warm reception last night.
–The Plain Dealer
CONCERTO DA CAMERA I
Woodwind quintets everywhere should be eternally grateful to her for producing a work so refreshingly free of the cliches of the genre.
–John Von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA
The work is essentially lyric-dramatic in spirit… This is music that clearly repays careful study. It has substance, and it is not afraid to be adventurous.
“Concerto for Orchestra” (1986) is big in musical scope and gesture, big in the technical demands it makes of the modern symphony orchestra… Ran is a composer whose music lives intensely in the late 20th Century, mindful of tradition but possessed by a fiercely lyrical voice all its own. She is a dramatist who happens to work with clashing, coalescing sonorities rather than with actors, but her music is no less theatrical for that. She gives her instrumentalists all sorts of rewarding, virtuosic things to do even if her orchestral concerto is not primarily about virtuosity. Did Ran perhaps unconsciously have the punchy brilliance of this orchestra in mind when she wrote this commanding score? It certainly seemed that way…
–John Von Rhein,, Chicago Tribune
…a complex and ingenious work that makes a very positive impression through the pure vitality of its content and the immediate effect of its strong writing…
Every measure…is charged with dramatic intensity… Forceful, compelling, beautifully wrought music: here is a new piece one would very much like to encounter again.
…runs through a gamut of passions and techniques, with an extended passage that reaches volumes not normally associated with the flute. Mimi Stillman gave it a hypnotic performance – the musical equivalent of a great actor declaiming a famous speech.
–Tom Purdom, Broad Street Review
…a score of remarkable beauty, passion and formal clarity, and one that any cellist would be glad to learn.
–San Francisco Chronicle
GLITTER, SHARDS, DOOM, MEMORY
String Quartet No. 3
Ran’s quartet is admirable for its emotional directness. It is almost Romantic in its clarity of gesture. There is never a haze of sound … Ran also has a keep sense of sonority, which is explored effectively throughout the piece.
–John Y. Lawrence, Chicago Classical Review
…a fantastic, fantastic quartet. [Ran] really put her all into it. There is a wonderful structural arc. She really has something to say in the piece and through the music, and it’s written so well. It’s really a gratifying experience.
–Masumi Per Rostad (violist of Pacifica Quartet), quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times
Ms. Ran’s craftsmanship is, as ever, expert. … [She] skillfully deploys…extremes of color, volume and pitch…
–Zachary Woolfe, New York Times
…suspensful and emotionally charged … While Ran’s work is not specifically programmatic, it expresses the unmistakable emotional arc that parallels the German-Jewish experience of Nussbaum’s era, from relative normalcy through intimidation, gothic absurdity and shock, leading to a grave contest between terror and resolve, and a final catharsis of extraordinary sdaness and impact.
–Nancy Malitz, Classical Voice America
“Grand Rounds” convey[ed] a sense of celebration, though not in overbearing ways. Instead, she [Ran] brought forth a vast range of color from a rather unconventional band: The Grossman Ensemble features Chicago’s Spektral Quartet at its core, plus winds, horn, dual percussionists, harp and piano. Ran used this palette to pen a readily accessible score that was as transparent in texture as it was lucid in tone. The joyful tintinnabulation of two mallet instruments spoke softly, as did long-held notes from flute and alto saxophone. Musical events came swiftly, the piece gaining animation and rhythmic momentum over time. Ultimately, Ran reminded listeners that it’s possible to employ a relatively large ensemble in ultra-economical ways, while still achieving a brilliant timbral array.
–Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
…Convivial bonhomie […] Ran efficiently works all members of what she called the “fixed-sized mini-orchestra” into the fabric as the music flits from section to section. Scored with Ran’s usual facility, Grand Rounds performed its celebratory function admirably.
–Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review
…began with a burst of fierce agitation suggesting Paganini on speed, segued to a Rondino built around scampering pizzicati and ended with a shadowed surge of melody that spiraled to poetic heights. Violinists are always complaining about the dearth of good modern solo pieces; Ran has given them one. Inscriptions is a score of varied and serious substance, grateful to perform and rewarding to listen to…
–John Von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
…a terrific piece that builds off the 19th-century legacy of the violinist as solo star. In three movements, the music explores some of the classic flavors of violin playing—the infernal (with a quick, cheeky quote from “L’Histoire du soldat”), dance music, and the pure structuring of music through melodic lines and arpeggiated chords.
–George Grella, New York Classical Review
…the piece is luxuriant in its sounds and materials. …brilliant orchestration technique … a rich melodic gift, that spins out arabesque like tendrils of blossoming vines … a capacity to keep the music moving … The music is always advancing dramatically, and one eagerly follows its course, but that momentum comes through large-scale “breathing” of the orchestra, not its dancing.
–Robert Carl, Fanfare
There’s no mistaking that this is a work of brilliance and upheaval. …iridescent textures buzzingly suggestive of the Thousand and One Nights.
–Rob Barnett, Music Web International
…one hopes it finds the wide public it deserves. “Legends” means to evoke a mystical, timeless aura, and it achieves that timeless quality without resource to the obvious orchestral effects such evocation would invite. Ran’s ideas and gestures carry within them the seeds of their own development, and she compels us to follow their evolution through a two-movement quasi sonata lasting about 20 absorbing minutes.
…With its Sephardic echoes along its vast harmonic palette, the music boasts vivid links to the composer’s homeland – a legendary, timeless cycle.
–Andrew Adler, Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
The two movements are natural, even inevitable complements, bound by precise structural components and each sumptuously orchestrated. The lower winds and brass (bass clarinet, paired tubas, etc.) plus touches of muted trumpet, celesta and great washes of percussion create an alluring swirl of intricate sonorities.
–Andrew Adler, Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
Typically of her music, this is a highly expressive score… compelling not only for its white-hot emotional content but for its intelligence and compositional clarity…
A characteristic blend of lyricism and academic modernism.
–John Rockwell, The New York Times
…the landscape shifted from curving lines to bright, crisply articulated statements, then again to melismas that wiggled and then disappeared like a wisp of smoke.
–Elaine Guregian, Akron (OH) Beacon Journal
“Mirage,” imbued with the composer’s characteristic brand of dissonant lyricism, captured the imagination. The writing is spiky but ineffably lovely, dominated by purling flute melodies over still-toned backgrounds.
–Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
O THE CHIMNEYS
…a work of uncompromising brilliance… gripping drama in razor-sharp musical responses… riveting…
–Los Angeles Herald Examiner
Ran clearly indicates the intended nature and mood of the piece with score markings such as ‘supple’, ‘with growing passion’ and ‘gruff”. The performer is required to convey a wide range of moods and tonal colours, and must be capable of executing the variety of technical challenges which the piece presents. Ran effectively portrays the ‘storm’, with sections to be played ‘ferociously fast’ and others in a ‘sunny’ manner. Shulamit Ran has written a detailed piece with wonderful character, suited to the advanced violinist.
–Joshua Smith, AUSTA
for Solo Viola
…a veritable showpiece for the instrument and a worthy addition to its limited repertoire.
–Gerald Fisher, Chicago Classical Review
…Shulamit Ran’s haunting “Soliloquy”…captures the composer’s fresh, subtle spicey approach to tonality.
–Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun
for Clarinet and String Quartet
Ran found the same virtues in clarinet tone—playful and soul-searching by turns—that Mozart and Brahms did … though not in [a] traditional language.
–David Wright, New York Classical Review
STRING QUARTET NO. 2 “VISTAS”
…the four-movement “Vistas” turned out to be an important discovery — full of anguished unisons and mysterious, keening solos that finally coalesce into music that is intense, cathartic and beautiful. The ideas are forcefully stated and sharply contrasted, set forth in clear textures and resonant timbres that reveal a deep understanding of the medium’s expressive possibilities.
…a bold setting of Psalms texts in Hebrew, complete with crashing cymbals, surging choral outbursts and hauntingly sustained harmonies, yet always direct, sonorous and impeccably tasteful.
–Anthony Tommasini, New York Times
…many beautiful moments and expressive gestures, quite appropriate for the text [from Deuteronomy and Psalms].
–Leo Kraft, The New Music Connoisseur
Ran’s work was radiant from the French horn opening solo to the spectacular percussion cadenza… This is a work that will reward each new listening.
–The Washington Post
The “Symphony,” which won her the Pulitzer award… is immediately notable for its energy. It has a thrust to the thematic ideas that sets her phrases moving over a compelling pulse.
…clear instrumental manner allows her to weave some tight musical ideas without letting her listeners miss any details, or lose the thread of her argument… it is music to exemplify an ideal — dramatic, colorful, clearly directed.
THE SHOW GOES ON (HA’HATZAGA NIMSHECHET)
The clarinet is the great mimic of the orchestra, with its extraordinary four-plus octave range… Ms. Ran exploits all of this… But even more remarkable was her extension of this mimicry through thematic recall and theatrical caricature. …the solo material seemed to evoke familiar roles in the instrument’s past. The clarinet, whether plaintive or shrill, never seemed to stray from assuming some theatrical character. … In various transformational moments, the clarinet, as dancer, materialized in a zesty tango; at another point, the protean soloist called to mind the storied opening glissando from Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, as a riff artist in some jazzy ensemble, à la Bernstein; and finally was ushered off in what sounded like a terrifying reference to Shostakovich.
–Seth Lachterman, The Berkshire Review
THREE FANTASY MOVEMENTS
It’s a big, important work, right down to the mock-Bach finale.
–John Von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
UNDER THE SUN’S GAZE
Ran’s beautiful 18-minute opus certainly does its bit to welcome listeners into its orbit. The melodies are gracious and shapely, the form clear without being predictable, and the rhythmic language sparklingly brisk…the most alluring aspect of the new piece is the pungency and variety of its textures…a constantly shifting sonic landscape that is crisp and lyrically swirling by turns. The plaintive introduction of a soprano saxophone midway through sets the rest of the work in dazzling relief.
–Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
“Under the Sun’s Gaze”…uses a rich palette of nine woodwinds, saxophone, strings, piano and percussion to create an absorbing evolution of starkly contrasted sounds moving from darkness to light and back again. In the course of the three interlocking movements, flute and violin dance a quirky duet; a folklike melody in flute and piccolo builds to an exultant blaze of sound as various instrumental layers are piled atop the tune.
–John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
…summed up the evening’s brainy delight in musical complexity. …its raucous outbursts evoked a merciless noonday sun while its more languorous moments hinted at a Middle Eastern desert cooling into twilight.
–Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Classical Review
…deploys an inventive palette of nine woodwinds, strings, piano and percussion, often used in quirky combinations, to trace a sonic journey from darkness to light and back again.
–John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
…a grand, passionate, Lisztian composition, rhapsodic and shapely…
–The New Yorker
VESSELS OF COURAGE AND HOPE
… full of percussive invention.
–Kurt Loft, Tampa Tribune
Dudamel first conducted a wondrous, impressive composition by Shulamit Ran, “Vessels of Courage and Hope.” …in this enthralling piece a festive, extended fanfare was first heard, followed by splendid poetic passages of serenity and longing…
–Translated from Hebrew, Ma’ariv, Israe
…a distinguished work by one of our most gifted composers.
A strongly felt piece in three contrasting movements, mercurial in mood and character, it made full use of [Shapira’s] virtuosity and big, expressive tone… virtuosic enough to qualify as a high-wire act, although its most distinctive feature was its strong, melodic emotionalism, from lingering melodies to big, difficult climaxes… Mr. Shapira played it with conviction, through to its beautiful, singing finish.
–Anne Midgette, The New York Times
Ran intended that the concerto should explore various aspects of the violin’s soul. This she does in its devilish brilliance, its consolatory voice and its seductive honeyed song.
–Rob Barnett, Music Web International
A remarkably grateful and graceful vehicle, it explores the instrument’s expressive range with idiomatic sensitivity for 20 taut minutes. Shapira played it with silken tone and gutsy bravado.
–Martin Bernheimer, Financial Times
…memorable, and affecting. …it settles down and focuses on what it really wants to say, and expresses it clearly, economically, and passionately.
–Robert Carl, Fanfare
On June 13 at Carnegie Hall, the infinitely versatile Orchestra of St. Luke’s presented the “Violin Concerto” by Israeli-born Pulitzer Prize winner Shulamit Ran, commissioned and performed by her compatriot Ittai Shapira. A strongly felt piece in three contrasting movements, mercurial in mood and character, it made full use of his virtuosity and big, expressive tone; his identification with this clearly very personal music spoke through every note.
Ran’s orchestral writing in the concerto is just as alluring as the whirlwind solo line — darkly moving brass chords in the first movement, Bartok-like strings buzzing in the second. The third is a long aria of farewell, with winds, strings and brass joining the solo violin’s sad song like fellow mourners.
–Bradley Bambarger, The Star Ledger (NJ.com)
2003: Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Letters
1992: Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1992: Kennedy Center Friedheim Award for Symphony
1991: Pulitzer Prize for Symphony
1973: Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Music at University of Chicago
Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund award
Ford Foundation award
National Endowment for the Arts award
Guggenheim Foundation award
Fromm Music Foundation Award
Chamber Music America award
Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress award
American Academy of Arts and Letters award
for Horn and InstrumentsBetween Two Worlds (Act I, Sc. 1)
Opera in Two ActsBetween Two Worlds (Act I, Sc. 2)
Opera in Two ActsBetween Two Worlds (Act II)
Opera in Two ActsBirkat Haderekh – Blessing for the Road
for Clarinet, Violin, Cello, and PianoChicago Skyline
Fanfare for Brass and PercussionConcert Piece
for Piano and OrchestraConcerto da Camera II
for Clarinet, String Quartet, and PianoDouble Vision
for Two Quintets and PianoEnsembles for 17
for Soprano and Mixed EnsembleFault Line
for Mixed EnsembleLegends
for Mixed EnsembleO The Chimneys
for Mezzo-soprano and Chamber Ensemble with TapeSilent Voices
for Mixed EnsembleSupplications
for Chorus and OrchestraUnder the Sun’s Gaze (Concerto da Camera III)
for Mixed EnsembleVessels of Courage and Hope
for a Flautist with Orchestra