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May 23, 1993

Library of Congress Announces Koussevitzky Commissions

The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation Inc. have awarded commissions for new musical works to six composers. The commissions are being granted jointly by the Foundations and the performing organizations that will present the newly composed works.

Award winners and the groups co-sponsoring their commissions are: Louis Andriessen and the California EAR Unit; Karel Husa and the Quintet of the Americas; David Sheinfeld and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players; Toru Takemitsu and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; Chinary Ung and Quintessence; and Zhou Long and The New Music Consort, with Music From China.

The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation of New York, established in 1950 and 1942, respectively, perpetuate Koussevitzky's lifelong efforts to encourage contemporary composers. Commissions are awarded annually.

Serge Koussevitzky was appointed conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1924 and served in that post for 25 years. He died in 1951. Works commissioned by him and the two Foundations include established masterpieces such as Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes and Bela Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra.

Commissions are awarded in a competition open to chamber ensembles and orchestras and composers of any nationality. Groups must submit the name of a composer whose work they would like to commission jointly with the Foundations, and undertake to perform the work within two years of its completion. Manuscripts of commissioned works are deposited in the Koussevitzky Collection in the Music Division of the Library of Congress.

The California EAR Unit joins the Foundations in commissioning Dutch composer Louis Andriessen (b. 1939). Born in Utrecht, Andriessen has had an active career on both sides of the Atlantic, working in the Netherlands and teaching at the California Institute for the Arts and Yale and Duke universities. He was a pupil of his father, composer Hendrick Andriessen, and of Kees van Baaren at the Hague Conservatory before completing studies with Luciano Berio in Milan and Berlin. Andriessen writes for unconventional ensembles, often combining acoustic with electric instruments and voice.

This marks the second Koussevitzky commission for Karel Husa (b. 1921), whose Sonata for violin and piano was written for the Foundations in 1971. The distinguished Czech-born composer, conductor, and teacher was educated in Prague and Paris, where he studied with Nadia Boulanger and Arthur Honegger. Husa came to the United States in 1954 to join the faculty of Cornell University; he remains there as Kappa Alpha Professor of Music. His many honors include the Lili Boulanger Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Pulitzer Prize, awarded in 1969 for his String Quartet No. 3. The new commission for a woodwind quintet is co-sponsored by the Quintet of the Americas, a New York-based ensemble.

With the Foundations, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players co-commissions a new work from composer David Sheinfeld (b. 1906), a native of St. Louis, Mo. Sheinfeld trained at the American Conservatory in Chicago and later studied composition with Ottorino Respighi in Rome and conducting with Pierre Monteux. As violinist and violist, he played with the Pittsburgh and San Francisco symphony orchestras, the latter from 1945 until his retirement in 1971. Sheinfeld has received grants and commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and the Kronos Quartet. He teaches composition privately and is also on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Composer Toru Takemitsu (b. 1930) is commissioned by the Foundations and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra to write a new trombone concerto, which will receive its premiere during the 1994 meeting of the International Trombone Association Workshop at the University of Minnesota. Takemitsu was awarded a Koussevitzky commission in 1965 for Dorian, the Horizon, for strings. Born in Tokyo, the composer helped organize the "Experimental Workshop" in 1951, seeking to combine traditional Japanese music with modernistic composition techniques of Western music. His widely acclaimed works continue to use elements from both cultures. Takemitsu's commissions and awards have come from the New York Philharmonic, RCA, Deutsche Grammophon, and UNESCO, among many others. He has been lecturer at the University of California at San Diego and at Yale, Harvard, and Boston universities.

Chinary Ung (b. 1942), a Cambodian-born American composer, receives a commission from the Foundations and the Quintessence ensemble to create a new wind quintet. In 1964 Ung settled in the United States, where he studied clarinet at the Manhattan School of Music and completed his doctoral degree in composition at Columbia University. Numerous honors include the Grawemeyer Award (for a work written for the Philadelphia Orchestra), first prize at the Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards, and Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Ford Foundation grants; Mohori, for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble, is the result of a 1973 commission from the Koussevitzky Foundations. Ung, professor of Music at Arizona State University in Tempe, is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Music Center, is President of Khmer Studies Institute, and is a member of the honorary artistic committee Pacific Music Festival, Japan.

The New Music Consort and the Music From China ensemble jointly sponsor with the Foundations a new work, combining traditional Chinese and Western instruments, by composer Zhou Long (b. 1952). A graduate of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, Zhou served as composer-in-residence with the China National Broadcasting Symphony. He is currently a doctoral candidate at Columbia University. Zhou's prizes have been awarded by organizations in France, Germany, and the United States, with commission from the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the China Central Ballet, the Berkshire Theater Festival, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and the Kronos Quartet.

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PR 93-080
6/1/93
ISSN 0731-3527

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