There is a long tradition of the BSO commissioning new works as part of its anniversary celebrations, and the 75th birthday of Tanglewood is no exception. This summer the Berkshires will host the world premieres of nine new works, many by composers who have a strong connection to Tanglewood and the BSO.
They are Michael Gandolfi ‘s Night Train to Perugia, a BSO commission (August 5); John Harbison’s Koussevitzky said:, for chorus and orchestra, a BSO commission (August 26); André Previn’s Music for Boston, a BSO commission (August 11), and Gunther Schuller’s Dreamscape, a Tanglewood Music Center commission (July 8 and August 13). The 75th anniversary premieres will also include a new work by Edgar Meyer—Double Concerto for violin, double bass, and orchestra, featuring Joshua Bell on violin and Mr. Meyer on bass (July 7). The Tanglewood 75th anniversary season will also include new works by Tanglewood Music Center alums South Korean Ju Ri Seo, (TMC class of 2011); American Adam Roberts, (TMC class of 2011); and Israeli Matti Kovler (TMC class of 2008), each written specifically for the 2012 class of Tanglewood Music Center Fellows. In addition, Marti Epstein’s Hidden Flowers, for string quartet, will receive its world premiere on August 12, during the Festival of Contemporary Music, which runs August 9-13.
A detailed day by day rundown of the coming season can be found here.
These are the nine new works:
Tanglewood 75th Anniversary Season World Premieres
Double Concerto for violin, double bass, and orchestra by Edgar Meyer
World premiere on Saturday, July 7, at 8:30 p.m. by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Edgar Meyer’s Double Concerto for violin, double bass, and orchestra is the first world premiere of the BSO’s season, which kicks off July 6. The July 7 premiere will feature violinist Joshua Bell and Mr. Meyer himself in the 25-minute, three-movement work, led by guest conductor Michael Stern. Mr. Meyer made his BSO debut exactly twelve years earlier when the BSO performed his Double Concerto for cello, double bass, and orchestra in the Koussevitzky Music Shed with conductor Seiji Ozawa and cellist Yo-Yo Ma for that season’s opening night gala. Edgar Meyer and Joshua Bell have a close relationship, having worked together on numerous projects including Short Trip Home, an album of classical chamber music written for a quartet of violin, double bass, mandolin, and guitar, featuring both classical and bluegrass musicians. Mr. Bell has also given the world premiere of Mr. Meyer’s Concert piece for violin and piano (with pianist Jeremy Denk).
In demand as both a performer and a composer, Edgar Meyer has formed a role in the music world unlike any other. Hailed by the New Yorker as “…the most remarkable virtuoso in the relatively unchronicled history of his instrument,” Mr. Meyer has an unparalleled technique and musicianship, which, in combination with his gift for composition, have brought him to the fore, where he is appreciated by a vast, varied audience. His uniqueness in the field was recognized by a MacArthur Award in 2002.
Dreamscape by Gunther Schuller
World premiere on Sunday, July 8, at 8 p.m. by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra
Second performance on Monday, August 13, at 8 p.m. by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra
Gunther Schuller’s new work, Dreamscape, was completely inspired, down to the orchestration and its title, by a dream Mr. Schuller had. The 15-minute work, commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center, will receive its world premiere by this year’s class of Fellows on Sunday, July 8, during the first Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra concert of the 75th season. Mr. Schuller will conduct his work. Dreamscape will be performed a second time on Monday, August 13, during the final Festival of Contemporary Music Concert, led by Oliver Knussen. Schuller’s association with the Tanglewood Music Center is extensive. He followed Aaron Copland as head of the TMC Composition Faculty in 1964, and from 1966-1984 was Director of the Composition Department, during which time he also directed the Festival of Contemporary Music. In 1970 he also took on the title of Co-Director of the TMC.
Gunther Schuller has led the BSO on numerous occasions, first appearing as a guest conductor in 1964. The orchestra premiered his symphony-like Where the Word Ends, a BSO 125th Anniversary Commission, in 2009 and his DEAI, a BSO commission, was premiered in Japan by the BSO in 1978.Schuller has composed over 180 works, spanning all musical genres including solo works, orchestral works, chamber music, opera, and jazz. Among Schuller’s orchestral works are Symphony (1965), Seven Studies of Paul Klee (1959), An Arc Ascending (1996), Four Soundscapes, and Shapes and Designs. Schuller’s large-scale work Of Reminiscences and Reflections was composed as a tribute to his wife of forty-nine years, Marjorie Black. Schuller also composed a number of works for solo ensemble with orchestra (or in some cases, band). Examples include Contrasts for Wind Quintet and Orchestra (1967), Concerto for String Quartet and Orchestra, Diptych for Brass Quintet and Concert Band (1967), and Eine kleine Posaunemusik for trombone and band (1980).
Night Train to Perugia by Michael Gandolfi
World premiere on Sunday, August 5, at 2:30 p.m. with the BSO
Commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
The title for Michael Gandolfi’s brief and fast-paced Night Train to Perugia came to him with the assistance of Boston-based writer Dana Bonstrom, who suggested a number of titles based on experiments carried out at the CERN particle accelerator. Mr. Gandolfi said that “the image of a neutrino beam traveling at light-speed underground from Switzerland through Perugia, Italy, among a host of cities, and ultimately to the Gran Sasso laboratory, to empirically test the boundaries of physics, aligned perfectly with the abstract imaginings of my piece.” Upon further investigation, Mr. Gandolfi says he became awestruck by humankind’s ability to conceive of and then construct the equipment required to realize the CERN experiments. He also notes that while he believes the creativity and ingenuity exhibited in the scientific community intersects with the creative requirements of musical composition, there is one major difference: “if a scientific experiment is not construed and executed with absolute precision, it simply fails, whereas a musical composition doesn’t ‘fail’ under similar conditions; it wobbles, and sometimes the wobble produces results that outshine those of the original design! I don’t intend for Night Train to Perugia to ‘run off the track,’ but if it does, the piece will exist; albeit with a few surprises and perhaps, unforeseen improvements.”
Michael Gandolfi was a Tanglewood Music Center (TMC) fellow in 1986 and has been on the TMC faculty since 1997, most recently serving as Composition Program Coordinator. The BSO was involved in the commissioning of his Impressions from ‘The Garden of Cosmic Speculation’ and the Boston Symphony Chamber Players premiered his Plain Song, Fantastic Dances in 2005. He is currently composing a work for organ and orchestra—a BSO commission to be premiered in 2015.
Music for Boston by André Previn
World premiere on Saturday, August 11, at 8:30 p.m. by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
André Previn’s Music for Boston was inspired by both Tanglewood and the orchestra’s namesake city. Since he first led the BSO at Tanglewood in a program of Vaughan Williams, Hummel, and Rachmaninoff in 1977, Mr. Previn has appeared at the BSO’s summer home more than 40 times. Since his first appearances, the orchestra has premiered three of his works: Previn’s Owls (a BSO commission) was unveiled in 2008; the composer’s Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass was premiered by Anne-Sophie Mutter and Roman Patkoló in 2007; and his Violin Concerto “Written for Anne-Sophie Mutter” received its world premiere in 2002. The Boston Symphony Chamber Players premiered André Previn’s Octet for Eleven in 2010. Music for Boston is approximately 15 minutes in length, and will be premiered by the BSO with conductor Stéphane Denève on Saturday, August 11, at 8:30 p.m., on a program with Elgar’s Cello Concerto with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5.
Conductor, composer, and pianist André Previn has received a number of awards and honors for his outstanding musical accomplishments, including both the Austrian and German Cross of Merit, and the Glenn Gould Prize. He is the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Kennedy Center, the London Symphony Orchestra, Gramophone Classic FM, and this year was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy. André Previn has enjoyed a number of successes as a composer. His first opera, A Streetcar Named Desire, was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque. In addition to his BSO premieres, recent highlights include the premiere of his Cello Concerto with Daniel Müller-Schott and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig (2011); his Harp Concerto commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony (2008); his second opera, Brief Encounter, commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera (2009); and his double concerto for violin and viola, written for Anne-Sophie Mutter and Yuri Bashmet (2009).
Koussevitzky said: by John Harbison
World premiere on Sunday, August 26, at 2:30 p.m. by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
Commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra
John Harbison felt the connection to Serge Koussevitzky seemed essential for a piece commissioned for the 75th anniversary of Tanglewood. In honor of Tanglewood’s founder, Mr. Harbison began by working with some of Koussevitzky’s formal addresses to the Tanglewood family, often at Opening Day ceremonies. But after writing the third or fourth surging climax, Mr. Harbison said, “I suddenly heard what I was doing in terms of the whole program, and experienced a discouraging overdose of uplift. In prelude to the matchless animation of Beethoven Nine, I did not want to hear the piece I was writing.” Not wanting to let go of this idea, Mr. Harbison began to incorporate some of the things that Maestro Koussevitzky was reported to have said informally, while teaching, rehearsing, and conversing. Mr. Harbison commented, “my research daily increased my sense of wonder at Koussevitzky’s force, manifest in gestures large and small. This short piece Koussevitzky said: is a way for someone who never saw or knew him to enjoy the time with him.”
Koussevitzky said:, performed by the BSO and Tanglewood Festival Chorus with conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, will be paired on a program with Tanglewood’s now-traditional season closer, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, bringing to end an anniversary season honoring the festival’s past, present, and future.
John Harbison has long been a BSO collaborator, with many of his works commissioned and/or premiered by the orchestra. The relationship was highlighted by the BSO’s two-year cycle of his symphonies, which culminated in the world premiere of his Symphony No. 6 in January 2012. The composer also has close ties with the Tanglewood Music Center, holding several different titles over the years, including Director of the Festival of Contemporary Music Festival. Mr. Harbison most recently served as TMC Composition Program Chairman.
Former Tanglewood Music Center Fellow Chamber Compositions
Three former Tanglewood Music Center Fellows, Matti Kovler, Adam Roberts, and Ju Ri Seo, were commissioned by the TMC to write new works for the 2012 Tanglewood season featuring specific groups of musicians within the TMC. The works are each performed early in the season—Ms. Seo’s Concerto for brass orchestra and percussion will be performed on July 1 and the works by Mr. Kovler and Mr. Roberts on July 8—and were commissioned so the incoming Fellows could begin the season learning about each other by working on new pieces written expressly for them. Each new work is approximately 10-12 minutes.
Concerto by Ju Ri Seo
For brass orchestra and percussion
World premiere performance on July 1 at 10 a.m. by TMC Fellows
Commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center
Having just moved to Italy when she began composing the Concerto, Ms. Seo notes that leaving Tanglewood and going to a group of Italian avant-guardists was perhaps the most radical change she had ever experienced as a composer. She says, “The piece was written under a strange circumstance. I was constantly thinking about the green lawn of Tanglewood filled with a large and responsive crowd and the brass fellows who nailed every note. At the same time, I was enthusiastically learning to experiment, and to learn some new ways of thinking about music. In the end, I let all influences take over me, and just wrote the music. I seldom have extra-musical inspiration while composing, but the memories of Tanglewood were clearly in my mind, and I believe that they had made it into the music as well.”
The Concerto was written in four shortening movements in cyclic form where the ending gestures become the principal materials for the following movements, with the ending of the last movement connecting back to the beginning of the first. The first movement is based on beating between one tone and another that is about a quarter-tone away from it. The second movement is rock-inspired, and the instrumental groups each have their own motives that develop on top of each other. The slow third movement is a tuba solo in its lowest range. Other instruments are initially used for coloring the tuba’s natural harmonic spectrum, but later the spectrum changes and overtakes the texture. The final movement is a fanfare that contracts materials from the first movement, cycling the piece back to its beginnings.
Recipient of the 2011 Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship and Otto Eckstein Fellowship, Ju Ri Seo is the winner of the 21st Century Piano Commissioning Competition at the University of Illinois and the Commission for the 2012 Renee B. Fisher Piano Competition, SoundSCAPE Composition Prize; and a finalist for Rapido Competition and the Soli Fan Tutti Competition in Darmstadt. She is currently studying at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome with Ivan Fedele under the Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship. She is a DMA candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she has studied with Reynold Tharp and Scott Wyatt.
The Unbearable Lightness by Matti Kovler
for seven double basses
World premiere performance on July 8 at 10 a.m. by TMC Fellows
Commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center
The trigger for The Unbearable Lightness came from an extra-musical source—a film by the Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, “Separation,” which focuses on a girl desperately moving between her parents in the process of divorce, against the difficult reality of life in Iran. Kovler notes that the deliberate choice of the director to eliminate music throughout accentuated the prevailing sense of anxiety in the film. Yet, amidst waves of tension, the film had moments of subdued lyricism, projecting an illusory quality. The composer says, “although it was quite clear that there could be no real solution, in these brief moments we managed to move beyond the hardship and imagine a beautiful, though impossible, alternative.” The title of the work, alluding to Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, refers to a similar sense of illusion—wanting to obtain something beyond reach.
The piece is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Kovler’s uncle, Michael (Misha) Rivlin, who passed away prematurely while the composer was in the process of composition. The ending coda and the transformation of the soloist part that occurs towards the end are influenced by that loss. The commission is also made possible by the generous support of the Merwin Geffen, M.D. and Norman Solomon, M.D. New Commissions Fund.
Matti Kovler’s music has been described as “part mystical, part comical” (Grade A Entrepreneurs) and praised for its “emotive potency” (New York Times) and “bold colors of orchestration” (The Boston Globe). Called by Steve Smith of the New York Times “a potentially estimable operatic composer in the making,” Matti wrote his first opera at the age of 17. His works have since been performed in Jerusalem, Amsterdam, Boston, Oslo, and New York, by the Metropole Orchestra (Holland), Fox Studios Orchestra (Los Angeles), the Ariel Quartet (Boston), the Brillaner Duo (Berlin) and others. Recent performances included the premiere of Fanfare to Israel, by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at the Henry Crown Hall, Jerusalem.
Born in Moscow and raised in Israel, Matti is a recipient of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation scholarship for study in the United States — he is a doctoral candidate at the New England Conservatory in Boston and a teacher at the Northeastern University. Among other recognitions are fellowships at the Tanglewood and the Aspen Music Festivals, the Theodore Presser Award, and two ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards.
Pasiphae Verses by Adam Roberts
for 2 flutes (1 doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, and 2 horns
World premiere performance on July 8 at 10 a.m. by TMC Fellows
Commissioned by the Tanglewood Music Center
Though the work is a single movement, Pasiphae Verses contains music of many characters and moods. The piece was created to be both organic and surprising, progressing from one state to another in a fairly seamless manner; nonetheless, some parts are radically different from others from a global view. The composer notes that his use of microtones in the piece unintentionally reflects his living in Istanbul because many microtonal sounds permeate the atmosphere there. The opening melody mirrors the dark mood he feels while listening to music and song in Istanbul’s environment, especially the call to prayer. The piece is dedicated to the Director of the TMC, Ellen Highstein, and TMC faculty composers John Harbison and Michael Gandolfi.
Adam Roberts’ music has been recently performed by ensembles and individuals such as the Arditti Quartet, JACK Quartet, Alarm Will Sound, Le Nouvel Ensemble Modern, Ensemble FA, Garth Knox, and Gabriela Díaz, and at festivals such as Wien Modern (Vienna), Musique Biennale en Scene (Lyons, France), Tanglewood, and the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (Boston). Roberts studied at the Eastman School of Music (BM), Harvard University (PhD), and in Vienna at the University for Performing Art and Music (Postgraduate Diploma). His primary teachers have included David Liptak, Augusta Read Thomas, Martin Bresnick, Bernard Rands, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Joshua Fineberg, Julian Anderson, and Chaya Czernowin. Mr. Roberts is on the faculty at Istanbul Technical University’s Center for Advanced Studies in Music, where he teaches composition and theory.
Festival of Contemporary Music World Premiere
Hidden Flowers by Marti Epstein
For string quartet
World premiere performance by the Fromm Players on Sunday, August 12, at 10 a.m, as part of the Festival of Contemporary Music, August 9-13. Commissioned by the Paul Jacobs Memorial Commissions Fund for the Tanglewood Music Center Festival of Contemporary Music
Marti Epstein’s TMC commissioned string quartet Hidden Flowers will have its premiere on Sunday, August 12 on the annual Fromm Concert at Tanglewoodduring the Festival of Contemporary Music. Ms. Epstein began studying composition in 1977 at the University of Nebraska. Regarding her music, she says, “I think of each piece as a work of art that exists as a whole in time and space, just as a painting would.” Her music is often melancholy and slow-paced, expressing in it the wide open spaces that she experienced during her childhood growing up in Nebraska. Hidden Flowers will receive its premiere on a program also including Harrison Birtwistle’s Dinah and Lick’s Love Song, George Benjamin’s Piano Figures, Niccolò Castiglioni’s Tropi, David Del Tredici’s Soliloquy, Helen Grime’sSeven Piettor Miniatures, and Sean Shepherd’s Quartet for Oboe and Strings.
Marti Epstein studied at the University of Nebraska, the University of Colorado, and Boston University, and her teachers included Robert Beadell, Cecil Effinger, Charles Eakin, Joyce Mekeel, Bunita Marcus, and Bernard Rands. Ms. Epstein was a Fellow in composition at the Tanglewood Music Center in 1986 and 1988 and worked with Oliver Knussen and Hans Werner Henze. Ms. Epstein has received commissions from numerous music groups, foundations, and artists, including the CORE Ensemble, ALEA III, Sequitur New Music Ensemble, the Fromm Foundation, guitarist David Tanenbaum, the American Dance Festival, the A*DEvant-garde Festival of Munich, tubist Samuel Pilafian, flutist Marianne Gedigian, the New England Brass Quintet, the Iowa Brass Quintet, Boston Conservatory, Boston University Marsh Chapel Choir, pianist Kathleen Supové, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston, the Radius Ensemble, and the Longy School of Music. Ms. Epstein is an active pianist and a devoted teacher and plays prepared piano with guitarist David Tronzo in the Epstein/Tronzo Duo. She is Professor of Composition at Berklee College of Music, where she has taught harmony, counterpoint, and composition since 1991, and is also on the faculty of Boston Conservatory.
TANGLEWOOD 2012 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS
Tanglewood’s 75th anniversary season will present a spectacular lineup of musical guests, while honoring legendary moments from the festival’s rich tradition of presenting summertime concerts since 1937. The anniversary season will also look to the future with eight world premieres and new media initiatives including international radio broadcasts and major new streaming offers free to a worldwide audience. The Tanglewood 75th anniversary gala concert on July 14, featuring many of the iconic artists identified with the festival mentioned above, has been added to the line-up of the PBS Arts Summer Festival and will air nationally on Friday, August 10 at 9 p.m. ET as part of GREAT PERFORMANCES (check local listings).
Highlights include a gala celebration with appearances by John Williams,Keith Lockhart, Andris Nelsons, James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, Peter Serkin, and Anne-Sophie Mutter performing with the BSO, Boston Pops, andTanglewood Music Center Orchestras (July 14); a special John Williams 80th Birthday Celebration (August 18); an all-Beethoven (BSO opener on July 6) and an all-Wagner program (July 21), replicating two programs from Tanglewood’s first season in 1937; and eight world premiere performances, spotlighting several composers who have had a strong connection with Tanglewood and the BSO, including Michael Gandolfi, John Harbison, André Previn, Gunther Schuller, and Edgar Meyer, as well as composers new to the BSO and its audiences.
The 75th anniversary season will also present James Taylor (July 2, 3, 4),Yo-Yo Ma with his Silk Road Ensemble (June 22 and 24); Joshua Bell(July 7); Jean-Yves Thibaudet (August 5); Mark Morris Dance Group(June 28 and 29); Chris Botti (August 5); Wynton Marsalis (August 20), and Train (August 31). Bernadette Peters (July 8), as well as Maureen McGovern and Brian Stokes Mitchell (August 24), make welcome returns with the Boston Pops.
In addition to the star-studded gala concerts and historically resonant programming, Tanglewood’s 75th Anniversary will reach out to a worldwide audience by way of international radio broadcasts; an extraordinary offer of 75 Free Digital Streams, available for purchase after a 24-hour free period; as well as free digital streams of master classes for the Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center (TMC), the BSO’s renowned summer music academy for the advanced training of young professional-caliber musicians.
On the fun and light hearted side of the BSO’s Tanglewood 75th season, the anniversary will also be celebrated with a specially commissioned commemorative poster and stamp. In addition, special anniversary banners will appear in towns throughout the Berkshires and a series of musical instrument sculptures will be scattered throughout the region to remind visitors of the anniversary.
2012 TANGLEWOOD SEASON TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets for the 2012 Tanglewood season are available through Tanglewood’s website,www.tanglewood.org, through SymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200, or by visiting the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA. Regular season ticket prices range from $9-$117. Tickets for Saturday Morning Rehearsals are $10-$30. All ticket prices include a $1 Tanglewood grounds maintenance fee.
Tickets are also available for purchase in person at the Tanglewood Box Office at Tanglewood’s Main Gate on West Street in Lenox, MA, as of June 21. American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Discover, and cash are all accepted at the Tanglewood Box Office. For further information and box office hours, please call the Boston Symphony Orchestra at 617-266-1492 or visit