ROCHESTER, NY – Several members of the Eastman School of Music faculty have been doing more than teaching, coaching, and mentoring some of the world’s most talented young musicians this fall. In addition, they’ve been busy performing/appearing in high-profile settings and winning prominent awards – several of which have come to light in recent weeks as detailed below.
Oleh Krysa performs three "Artists Against Terrorism" concerts in Kazakhstan
Despite the war on terrorism that is raging in Afghanistan, Professor of Violin Oleh Krysa traveled to nearby Kazakhstan for a week in November to headline three concerts under the title "Artists Against Terrorism." The opening concert, featuring Krysa and his wife and pianist Tatiana Tchekina, was held in the former capital city of Almaty in the splendid Hall of Kazakhkonzert. The two other sold-out concerts featured Krysa and a former student from the Moscow Conservatory, Gaukhar Murzabekova – chair of the strings department at Almaty Conservatory, Paris Competition prizewinner, and celebrated "Peoples’ Artist of Kazakhstan." In Almaty, they performed – with much fanfare in the city’s historic and newly renovated opera house – two masterpieces with the Camerata Kazakhstan (orchestra), conducted by Renat Salavatov: Mozart’s Sinfonie Concertante for violin, viola, and orchestra (with Krysa playing viola) and Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso No. 1 for two violins, piano, and strings. In Astana, the country’s current capital, they performed in the hall of the President’s Centre of Culture. Political leaders, ambassadors, and other international dignitaries were a large part of the audiences.
"It was quite an experience," said Krysa, who will travel to the Ukraine and Russia in summer 2002 for a series of concerts (with members of his own family) to celebrate his upcoming 60th birthday. "The concerts were very well received and show how music can bring people of different nations together. I am grateful to all who made the tour possible."
John Marcellus performs at the United Nations
Speaking of different nations, the United Nations certainly is not a typical performance venue for most musicians. Yet Professor of Trombone John Marcellus and two of his students recently received a special invitation to perform there with trombonist David Taylor. A guest artist in Eastman’s trombone studio in early November, Taylor is a frequent collaborator with Austrian composer Franz Hackl, who was invited by the Austrian Consulate to present his music at the U.N. The composer enlisted the help of Taylor, who in turn asked Marcellus and the students to join him for a performance of Hackl’s music at 11 a.m., Tuesday, December 11, at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan.
"We were honored and excited about the opportunity – especially in light of all that’s happened in New York since September 11," said Marcellus.
William McIver joins ‘Amahl’ originals for 50th anniversary showing at Museum of Television and Radio
Another Eastman faculty member traveled to New York in late November to attend a special 50th anniversary broadcast of the holiday staple Amahl and the Night Visitors – the first opera commissioned for television, originally broadcast by NBC on Christmas Eve 1951. Professor of Voice William McIver, who sang the title role in the opera from 1952-1955, joined composer Gian Carlo Menotti and the original mother in the cast, Rosemary Kuhlman, for the "premiere" anniversary showing at the Museum of Television and Radio in Manhattan. The museum offered public screenings of the original broadcast from December 4-9 at its New York and Los Angeles locations.
Robert Wason and Kim Kowalke receive 2001 ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award
Two Eastman professors were among the winners of the 34th annual ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award – the top honor presented by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) to authors and journalists for outstanding print and media coverage of music.
Robert Wason, professor of music theory and chair of Eastman’s theory department, won the award for the liner notes he wrote for a CD he conceived, Songs of Alec Wilder, issued in 2000 by the Eastman School and Albany Records. The disc teams Wason – theorist, composer, arranger, and performer – as pianist with his former student and frequent collaborator, soprano Valerie Errante. It includes 14 European art songs and nine American pop songs (which were primarily arranged by Wason) written by the much loved native-Rochester composer in the 1920s and ’30s. In the award-winning liner notes, Wason writes about the differences and similarities between the two genres and states that Wilder "simply wrote – and wrote simply – music of charm and beauty giving little thought to the categories into which other people might place it." The CD, recorded in Eastman’s Kilbourn Hall, also features former Eastman faculty member Aleck Brinkman on jazz bass.
Additionally, Wason, whose research and passion also includes turn-of-the-century German lieder, and Errante were invited to perform works by German composers at an international music convention in Munich last month.
Kim Kowalke, professor of musicology at Eastman and chair in The College music department of the University of Rochester, won his fifth ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for his article titled "I’m an American!: Whitman, Weill, and Cultural Identity." In the piece, Kowalke – an internationally recognized expert on the music of German-born American composer Kurt Weill – analyzes the origins and structure of Weill’s 1942 work Walt Whitman Songs. The article, published in the book Walt Whitman and Modern Music (edited by Lawrence Kramer and issued by Garland Press), was cited by ASCAP as an important addition to the literature about the composer.
Wason, Kowalke, and the other Deems Taylor Award winners were honored earlier this month by ASCAP at a special ceremony at the Walter Reade Theatre in New York.
Hans Davidsson awarded one of Sweden’s most distinguished research awards
Associate Professor of Organ Hans Davidsson – who also is founder, artistic, and research director of the Göteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt) in Göteborg, Sweden – has been awarded one of Sweden’s most distinguished research awards, the Research Prize, from Sweden’s ÅForsk (the research foundation of the ÅF Group, a group of technical consulting companies). This is the first time that the award, which cites Davidsson’s prominent role in making GOArt (and Göteborg) a global leader in organ innovation, has been given to someone who is not primarily active in the field of technology. Davidsson worked with scientists, musicologists, organ builders, performers, and others to establish GOArt – a research and development center at Göteborg University that works closely with the Chalmers University of Technology to work for the preservation and future development of the organ and related keyboard instruments. Their core project was the reconstruction and actual building of a 17th century Baroque organ in North German style.
Composer Robert Morris wins music theory award
Although he’s perhaps best known as a composer (he is a professor of composition and chair of Eastman’s composition department), Robert Morris recently received an impressive honor in music theory. (Morris also is an affiliate member of the School’s theory and musicology departments.) In November, the Society for Music Theory presented Morris with its 2001 "Outstanding Publication Award" for his article "Voice-Leading Spaces" published in Music Theory Spectrum. Morris won this
same award – given for a distinguished article that constitutes a significant contribution to the field of music theory – in 1988, making him the only person to have won it twice.
Note to editors: Interviews with Eastman faculty can be arranged upon request.