“Shulamit Ran has never forgotten that a vital essence of composition is communication.” So ran the review in the Chicago Tribune following the premiere of Legends by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. This sort of reaction is by no means unusual. Around the country, from Seattle to Baltimore to Houston, commentary on her music typically runs thus: “gloriously human” and “compelling not only for its white-hot emotional content but for its intelligence and compositional clarity” ; “Ran is a magnificent composer.” It is hardly surprising, then, that Symphony, which has drawn references to “the superior quality of her musical imagination and artistic invention” and which has been hailed as “a work that will reward each new listening” should have won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Ms. 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.”
Ms. 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 piano and composition studies in the U.S., on scholarships from the Mannes College of Music in New York and the America Israel Cultural Foundation, with Nadia Reisenberg and Norman Dello Joio, respectively, later studying piano with Dorothy Taubman. In 1973 she joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, where she is now the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Music and artistic director of Contempo, formerly the Contemporary Chamber Players. She lists her late colleague and friend Ralph Shapey, with whom she also studied in 1977, as an important mentor.
Among her numerous awards, fellowships and commissions are those from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Fromm Music Foundation, WFMT, Chamber Music America, the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Eastman School of Music, the American Composers Orchestra (Concerto for Orchestra), the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (Concerto da Camera II), the Philadelphia Orchestra (Symphony, first performed in 1990, Pulitzer Prize 1991, first place Kennedy Center Friedheim Award 1992), the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Legends), the Baltimore Symphony (Vessels of Courage and Hope), and many more.
Orchestral works since the prize-winning Symphony include Legends (a joint commission celebrating the centennials of both the Chicago Symphony and the University of Chicago), which premiered in October, 1993, and Vessels of Courage and Hope, commissioned by the Albert Shapiro Fund and premiered by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1998, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel and the voyage of the S.S. President Warfield/”Exodus 1947.”
More recent works include the flute concerto, Voices, commissioned by the National Flute Association for its year 2000 convention; Supplications, for chorus and orchestra, premiered in November, 2002 by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; a Violin Concerto premiered in June, 2003 by Israeli violinist Ittai Shapira and British conductor Charles Hazelwood, also at Carnegie Hall; Bach Shards, commissioned by the Brentano String Quartet as part of the quartet’s Art-of-Fugue project and performed in many major venues since its premiere; Under the Sun’s Gaze (Concerto da Camera III), an ensemble work for nine players for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation and premiered in April, 2005 in San Francisco; Fault Line for ensemble, commissioned by the Chicago Symphony MusicNOW series, premiered in May, 2006 at Chicago’s Symphony Center; and Credo/Ani Ma’amin, part of And on Earth, Peace: A Chanticleer Mass, commissioned and widely performed by Chanticleer, the noted 12-man vocal ensemble, following its premiere in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in April, 2007.
In 1990, Ms. Ran was selected by Maestro Daniel Barenboim to be Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as part of the Meet the Composer Orchestra Residencies Program, a position she held for seven seasons. From 1994 to 1997, Ran also served as the fifth Brena and Lee Freeman Sr. Composer-in-Residence with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Her first opera, Between Two Worlds (The Dybbuk), which received its much-acclaimed premiere in June, 1997, was commissioned by the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and was described in Opera News as “the most powerful new music-theater piece to emerge from Lyric’s composer-in-residence program.” The European premiere of Between Two Worlds took place in May, 1999, at the Bielefeld Opera, in a German translation.
Ms. Ran’s music has been played by many of the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Jerusalem Orchestra, l’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Amsterdam Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony, the National Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the American Composers Orchestra; her works have been conducted by, among others, Zubin Mehta, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Gary Bertini, Christoph Von Dohnanyi (in two U.S. tours), Gustavo Dudamel, and the late Yehudi Menuhin. Other performers include the Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago under Ralph Shapey and Cliff Colnot, Da Capo Chamber Players, the New York New Music Ensemble, the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble under Arthur Weisberg, Twentieth Century Consort, Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles, New York Philomusica, the Pennsylvania Contemporary Players, on “Music Today” in New York directed by Gerard Schwarz, the Mendelssohn String Quartet, the Lark Quartet, the Penderecki Quartet, the Cassatt Quartet, the Peabody Trio, Musical Elements, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Callisto Ensemble (for which Ms. Ran was the 2006-2007 theme composer), both Collage and Musica Viva in Boston, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Ms. Ran’s works have been performed at the Library of Congress, Kennedy Center, and at the Tanglewood, Aspen, Santa Fe and Yellow Barn summer festivals, among many others. In 1989, her second string quartet, “Vistas,” commissioned by C. Geraldine Freund for the Taneyev String Quartet of Leningrad, received its first performance. It was the first commission given in this country to a Soviet chamber ensemble since the 1985 cultural exchange accord between the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Shulamit Ran, who formerly performed extensively as a pianist in the U.S., Europe, Israel and elsewhere, is presently the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Music at the University of Chicago, where she has taught since 1973. In 1987, Ms. Ran was Visiting Professor at Princeton University. She has received honorary doctorates from Mount Holyoke College (1988), Spertus Institute (1994), Beloit College (1996), the New School of Social Research in New York (1997), and Bowdoin College (2004). Ms. Ran was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1992 and of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2003. Her works are published by the Theodore Presser Company and by the Israeli Music Institute. Recordings have been released on more than a dozen labels, including Albany, Angel, Bridge, Centaur, CRI, Erato, Koch International Classics, New World, Vox, and Warner Classics, with several all-Ran discs available.
Cover Title (Subtitle) Duration Instrumentation Solo 3 Fantasy Pieces
For Cello and Piano
114-40721 3 Scenes for Clarinet
For Solo Clarinet
114-41138 8:00 Clarinet Unaccompanied Birds Of Paradise
For Flute And Piano
114-41630 12:00 Flute with Piano Connecting The Dots
For Solo Piano
110-41812 5:00 Piano East Wind
For Solo Flute
114-40469 6:00 Flute solo Fantasy Variations
114-40392 14:00 For An Actor: Monologue for Clarinet (In A) 114-40236 8:00 Clarinet solo Hallel
For Solo Organ
113-40043 8:00 Organ Unaccompanied Hyperbolae 510-03095 Piano Unaccompanied Inscriptions
For Solo Violin
114-40643 10:00 Violin Unaccompanied Perfect Storm
114-41510 10:30 Viola Unaccompanied Piano Sonata No.2 510-03123 Short Piano Pieces 510-03314 12:00 Piano Unaccompanied Sonata Waltzer
110-40707 Piano Unaccompanied Verticals
410-41308 17:00 Piano Unaccompanied Chamber Ensemble A Due
For Violin And Violoncello
114-41691 15:00 String Duet Another Wedding March
For Piano, Four Hands
110-41781 2:10 Piano 4 Hands Bach-Shards
Prelude To Contrapunctus X From The Art Of The Fugue
114-41345 4:00 String Quartet Birkat Haderekh–Blessing For The Road
For Bb Clarinet, Violin, Violoncello And Piano
114-41716 6:00 Mixed Quartet Chicago Skyline
Fanfare for Brass and Percussion
14481 7:00 4Tpt., 6Hn., 3Tbn.(B.Tbn.), 2Tu., Timp., 3Perc. Concerto Da Camera I 554-00721 12:00 Concerto Da Camera II
For Clarinet, String Quartet, and Piano
114-40558 17:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments) Double Vision
for Two Quintets and Piano
14486 22:00 1 1 2 1 – 1 2 2 0; Pno. Ensemble Music for Piano, 4 Hands O4975 Piano 4 Hands Excursions 414-41163 20:00 Piano Trio Fanfare
For 2 Trumpets, 2 Horns, and Trombone
114-40627 4:00 Brass Quintet Fault Line
17384 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.(220.127.116.11.1) Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory
String Quartet No. 3
114-41690 23:00 String Quartet Invocation
For Horn, Chimes, and Timpani
114-41021 4:10 Horn, Chimes, Timpani Logan Promenades
For Two Trumpets In C
114-41588 4:00 Brass Duet Lyre Of Orpheus
For String Sextet
114-41429 15:00 String Sextet Mirage 414-41170 12:00 Small Mixed Ensemble (2-9 Instruments) Moon Songs
A Song Cycle In Four Acts for Soprano, Flute (Doubling Piccolo), Violoncello, and Piano
111-40240 26:00 Chamber Ensemble A Prayer
For Horn and Instruments
114-40638 6:00 Chamber Ensemble Private Game
For Bb Clarinet and Violoncello
114-40287 4:00 Mixed Duet Soliloquy
For Violin, Cello, and Piano – Score and Parts
114-41033 8:00 Piano Trio Sonatina
For Two Flutes
114-40806 6:00 Flute Duet “Song and Dance”
Duo for Saxophones and Percussion
114-41378 Saxophone Duet Stream
For Clarinet And String Quartet
114-41750 :16:00 Clarinet Quintet String Quartet No.1 514-02724 20:00 String Quartet No. 2
114-40698 25:00 String Quartet Orchestra Legends 416-41248 Legends 14489 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 17501 8:00 Reader (opt.); 1(dbl. Picc.) 1 1(dbl. B.Cl.) 1 – 1 1 1 0; Perc. Pno. Str.(18.104.22.168.1) Symphony (1989-90) 416-41126 34:00 Orchestra Symphony 14491 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 21211 12:00 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2 2 – 2 2 1 0; Timp. Perc. Cel. Str. Under The Sun’s Gaze – Small Score 416-41301 Orchestra Vessels of Courage and Hope 16205 12:30 3(Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(E-flat Cl. B.Cl.) 3(Cbsn.) – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 5Perc. Pno. Str. Vessels Of Courage and Hope 416-41213 Orchestra w/ Soloist(s) Concert Piece (1970) – S Sc
For Piano and Orchestra
416-41247 Concert Piece
for Piano and Orchestra
14482 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. Concerto for Orchestra 14485 25:00 2 2 3 2 – 4 3 3 1; Timp. 3Perc. Pno. Str. Concerto for Orchestra 416-41125 The Show Goes On 576-01926 The Show Goes On (Ha’hatzaga Nimshechet)
Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra
17313 15’ Solo Cl. (B-flat, A); 2 1 2 2 – 2 2 2 0; Timp. 3Perc. Str. Three Fantasy Movements
for Cello and Orchestra
14492 23:00 Solo Vcl.; 2 2 2 2 – 2 2 2 0; Timp. 2Perc. Str. Three Fantasy Pieces 19 FE187 Under the Sun’s Gaze
(Concerto da Camera III)
16935 19:00 2(dbl. AltoFl., Picc.) 0 2(dbl. 2B.Cl.) 0 Sop.Sax. – 0 0 0 0; 1Perc. Pno. Vln. Vcl. Violin Concerto 10172 32:00 Solo Vln.; 2(dbl. Picc.) 2 2(dbl.EbCl. / B.Cl.) 2(dbl.Cbsn.) – 2 2 2 0; 2Perc.(Timp.) Cel. Str. Violin Concerto 416-41285 32:00 Orchestra Voices
For a Flautist with Orchestra
10074 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 Worlds
Opera in 2 acts.
16661 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 Malach (Psalm 93) 14478 5:00 Cantor; Hn. Picc. Ob. Cl. Amichai Songs
For Mezzo-Soprano, Oboe/English Horn, Viola Da Gamba, and Harpsichord
111-40144 18:00 Mezzo-Soprano, Oboe/English Horn, Viola da Gamba, Harpsichord Apprehensions 511-01815 Apprehensions 511-01816 Ensembles for 17 14487 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. Ensembles for 17 416-41251 Fanfare
For Five Sopranos
111-40177 4:00 Vocal Ensemble Hatzvi Israel Eulogy 12473 6:00 Mezzo Sop.; Fl. Hp. Str. The Humble Shall Inherit The Earth
312-41873 5:35 SATB Sonnet 73
For SATB Chorus A Cappella
312-41872 5:00 SATB Supplications
for Chorus and Orchestra
10163 7:00 SATB Chorus; 3(Picc.) 2 2(dbl. A Cl. / Eb Cl.) 2 – 4 3 3(B.Tbn.) 0: Timp. 4Perc. Str. Drag Here to Add To List
…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
…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
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