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June 20, 1994

Koussevitzky Commissions Awarded to Seven Composers

The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation Inc. have awarded commissions for new musical works to seven 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: Ross Bauer and the Rohnert Park Symphony; Sebastian Currier and Cygnus Ensemble; Donald Erb and the Audubon String Quartet; Robert Greenberg and the Alexander String Quartet; Peter Lieberson and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; Bernard Rands and the Philadelphia Orchestra; and Poul Ruders and the Riverside Symphony.

The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation of New York, founded 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 Rohnert Park (California) Symphony joins the Foundations in commissioning Ross Bauer to write a new work for chamber orchestra. Bauer, a New England native, studied at the New England Conservatory and Brandeis University. He teaches theory and composition at the University of California at Davis, where he is director of the UC Davis Contemporary Music Players. A founding member of Boston's Griffin Music Ensemble, Bauer's many honors include Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell Colony, and Wellesley Conference fellowships, and the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Recent commissions have been granted by the Fromm Foundation and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.

A new chamber work is commissioned by the Foundations and the Cygnus Ensemble from composer Sebastian Currier, 1993 winner of the Rome Prize in composition. Among his honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Friedheim Award, a Barlow Endowment Commission, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and several awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Currier is composer-in-residence at the Bowdoin Summer Festival and the Fontana Concert Society. He holds a doctorate from the Juilliard School, where he is currently a faculty member in the Evening Division.

Donald Erb's commission is awarded jointly by the Foundations and the Audubon Quartet for the creation of a new string quartet. Distinguished Professor of Composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Erb's many commissions and awards are from the Ford, Guggenheim, Naumberg, and Rockefeller foundations, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the McKim Fund in the Library of Congress, among others. He has served as composer- in-residence of the Dallas and St. Louis Symphony orchestras, and at the American Academy in Rome. Born in 1927, Erb received degrees from Kent State University, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and Indiana University. His early career was spent as a jazz trumpeter. In 1982, Erb was elected president of the American Music Center.

The Alexander String Quartet joins the Foundations in commissioning a new work from composer Robert Greenberg, a faculty member of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Greenberg, born in Brooklyn in 1954, received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at Berkeley. He is host and lecturer for the San Francisco Symphony's "Discovery Series," which he helped create; he also writes and hosts the radio program "Words in Music" for San Francisco station KKHI-FM, and has taped a college-level lecture series to be made available throughout the United States. Among Greenberg's awards and honors are three Nicola de Lorenzo Composition prizes and two Meet-the-Composer grants.

Peter Lieberson receives a commission from the Foundations and the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble to compose a new horn concerto, which will have its premiere during the ensemble's Carnegie Hall series. Lieberson's previous commissions include those from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony. Prizes include the Ives scholarship of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship, named in honor of the composer's father, a musician and recording executive who was president of Columbia Records. His principal teachers included Milton Babbitt, Martin Boykan, Donald Martino, and Charles Wuorinen. Born in 1946, Lieberson received graduate degrees in music from Columbia and Brandeis universities. He taught at Harvard University before moving to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to become the international director of Shambhala Training, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation and cultural program.

The commission awarded to Bernard Rands marks his second grant from the Koussevitzky Foundation; the first, in 1983, resulted in his Suite No. 2 - Le Tambourin, which won the John F. Kennedy Center's prestigious Friedheim Award. Rands is commissioned jointly by the Foundations and the Philadelphia Orchestra, where he is composer-in-residence. The premiere of the new work is slated for May 1995, under the direction of Music Director Wolfgang Sawallisch. Born in England in 1934, Rands studied in Italy with Luigi Dallapiccola, Luciano Berio, and Bruno Maderna. He immigrated to the United States in 1975. The composer's many honors include awards and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim and Fromm foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts; he won the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for music. Rands is Professor of Composition at Harvard University and is on the faculty of the Juilliard School.

The Riverside Symphony, resident orchestra of Columbia University, joins the Foundations in commissioning Danish composer Poul Ruders. Born in 1949, Ruders studied organ at the Royal Danish Conservatoire, but is largely self-taught as a composer. The British Broadcasting Corporation, Danish Radio, and Ensemble InterContemporain have commissioned works from the composer, and he received the 1991 Royal Philharmonic Society Charles Heidsieck Award for his First Symphony. Ruders has taught at Yale University.

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PR 94-104
6/20/94
ISSN 0731-3527

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