ROCHESTER, NY — The stages of the Eastman School of Music will reverberate with the music of internationally acclaimed composer Luciano Berio — including a New York premiere — as the School celebrates the innovative Italian musician with a festival in his honor. An unparalleled leader in the thinking, development, and creation of music from the second half of the 20th century, the 77-year old Berio had planned to attend the Eastman celebration, but recently cancelled his trans-Atlantic trip for health reasons.
The festival features two free concerts of chamber and orchestral music by a diverse combination of the School’s ensembles, providing a musical tour of nearly 40 years of Berio’s works. It also includes presentations of professional papers on Berio’s work by several music scholars.
The music begins at 8 p.m., Thursday, May 1, in Kilbourn Hall (26 Gibbs St.), as members of the new music ensemble OSSIA perform A-Ronne, a major a cappella piece for eight singers. Composed from 1974-75, this work was conceived originally for tape, then transcribed for eight voices. The TARAB cello ensemble, comprised of Eastman students and alumni, will give the New York premiere of Korot (1998) for eight cellos, under the baton of Eastman faculty conductor Brad Lubman. The School received the composer’s direct permission to perform the rarely heard Visage (1961), one of Berio’s early works composed purely for electronic tape. The final work of this concert will be Sequenza IXa (1980) for solo clarinet, one of Berio’s 17 virtuosic “Sequenzas” for a variety of solo instruments.
The Eastman Theatre (60 Gibbs St.) concert at 8 p.m., Friday, May 2, is built around Sinfonia (1968), Berio’s major work for large orchestra and eight voices. The Eastman Philharmonia, conducted by Lubman, will perform this piece, written to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein. A work whose timeliness is eerily appropriate, Sinfonia uses references to Martin Luther King (the second part, O King, is a tribute to his memory), bits of anti-war protest, and quotes from the works of Samuel Beckett. The third part is a tribute to Gustav Mahler, and in particular, to the scherzo movement of his Resurrection Symphony.
“This is truly an epic work,” said Lubman, who first met Berio in 2000 at the “Music For Our Time” Festival in Germany. (He had stepped in for him at the last minute to rehearse Sinfonia due to the composer’s delayed arrival.) “It’s all-encompassing, powerful, and poignant.”
The first half of the concert features Musica Nova, Eastman’s new music ensemble — also conducted by Lubman — performing Berio’s Points on A Curve To Find… (1974) for piano and ensemble, with Eastman alumna Margaret Kampmeier as soloist. The New York City-based Kampmeier is an active soloist, chamber musician, orchestral pianist, and founding member of the Naumburg award-winning New Millennium Ensemble. Eastman alumna Jackie LeClair will perform in Chemins IV (1975) for oboe and ensemble, one of a series of “Chemins” exploring a layered approach to sound. Also a resident of New York City, the in-demand LeClair specializes in the study and performance of new music. Current Eastman graduate student Courtney Orlando is the featured performer in Corale (1981) — Berio’s personal tribute to the violin — for solo violin, two horns, and string orchestra, which rounds out the concert’s first half.
A free, pre-concert panel discussion at 7 p.m. in Eastman Theatre will help preview this extraordinary concert and the music of Berio. Special guest commentators include Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Bernard Rands from Harvard University; well-known contemporary music writer and former New York Times music critic Paul Griffiths; Democrat and Chronicle music critic John Pitcher; and Ricardo Zohn Muldoon, the newest member of Eastman’s composition faculty. Robert Morris, chair of the School’s composition department, will moderate the discussion.
About Brad Lubman
Brad Lubman, a member of the Eastman conducting faculty since 1997 and director of the School’s contemporary ensembles, enjoys an active career as both a conductor and composer. A frequent conductor with The Steve Reich Ensemble and the Ensemble Modern of Frankfurt, Lubman has appeared with major orchestras and ensembles in the U.S. and abroad. These include the Saarbruecken Radio Orchestra; Deutsches-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin; the New World, Frankfurt Radio, and the Finnish Radio symphonies; the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra; ASKO Ensemble of Amsterdam; New York New Music Ensemble; and the New Millennium Ensemble. For Lubman’s complete biography visit www.rochester.edu/Eastman/faculty/?id=102. For more information on the Eastman School, visit www.rochester.edu/Eastman.
Note to editors: A color photo of Luciano Berio is available; interviews with Brad Lubman and Robert Morris can be arranged.