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February 13, 1998

Koussevitzky Commissions Announced

The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress and the Koussevitzky Music Foundation Inc. have awarded commissions for new musical works to 11 composers. The commissions are granted jointly by the foundations and the performing organizations that will present the newly composed works.

Award winners and their co-sponsoring groups are: Peter Alexander and the Meridian Arts Ensemble; David Chaitkin and the Francesco Trio; Chen Yi and the Women's Philharmonic; James Dashow and the Ensemble Europeo Antidogma; Richard Festinger and the Laurel Trio; Osvaldo Golijov and the Boston Musica Viva; Jonathan Harvey and the Riverside Symphony; Edwin London and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players; Harvey Sollberger and the New York New Music Ensemble; Lewis Spratlan and the Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble; and David Vayo and the Orkest de Volharding.

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.

Serge Koussevitzky was conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 25 years, starting in 1924. He died in 1951. Works commissioned by him and the two foundations include masterpieces such as Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes and Bla Bartk's Concerto for Orchestra.

Commissions are awarded annually and on a competitive basis to performing organizations and to composers without regard to national origin or affiliation. Groups must submit the name of a composer whose work they would like to commission jointly with the foundations, and must undertake to perform the work within two years of its completion. Manuscripts of commissioned works are deposited in the Music Division of the Library of Congress.

The Meridian Arts Ensemble, a contemporary music group comprising a brass quartet and percussion, commissioned a new chamber work from Peter Alexander. Born in London in 1959, Mr. Alexander obtained a degree in percussion performance from the State University of New York at Purchase. He later studied composition at Rutgers University (M.A.) and at Harvard University (Ph.D.). His composition teachers have included Bernard Rands, Donald Martino, Earl Kim and Charles Wuorinen. Mr. Alexander has received the George Arthur Knight Prize, the Blodgett Artists' Competition Prize and the Rudolph Nissim/ASCAP award for his Symphony No. 1.

The Francesco Trio of Berkeley, Calif., commissioned David Chaitkin to create a work for violin, violoncello and piano. Born in New York in 1938, Mr. Chaitkin holds degrees from Pomona College and from the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied with Seymour Shifrin, Luigi Dallapiccola, Andrew Imbrie and Arnold Elston. He has received several awards and fellowships, including those from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as recording grants from the Aaron Copland Fund, the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund.

The Women's Philharmonic commissioned a concerto for violin and orchestra from composer Chen Yi. Ms. Chen, a native of Guangzhou, China, studied at the Beijing Conservatory with Wu Zu-qiang, and in 1986 became the first woman in China to receive a master's degree in composition. She emigrated to the United States to begin her doctoral studies at Columbia University; she received her Ph.D., with distinction, in 1993. Her principal composition teachers at Columbia were Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky. Ms. Chen has received numerous commissions and performances of her work from musical ensembles throughout the world, including the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the Women's Philharmonic, the Chanticleer vocal ensemble, the New York New Music Consort, and the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. Ms. Chen serves on the faculty of the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and as composer-adviser with the American Composers' Orchestra.

The Ensemble Europeo Antidogma of Torino, Italy, commissioned James Dashow to compose a work for instrumental ensemble and electronically produced sounds. Mr. Dashow was born in 1944 in Chicago and studied at Princeton and Brandeis universities and at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome with Goffredo Petrassi. He has taught and lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe: at the Experimental Music Studio at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at Princeton University and at the Centro di Sonologia Computazionale of the Unversity of Padua. Mr. Dashow's numerous honors include grants and commissions from the Fromm, Rockefeller, and Guggenheim foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Prize of Distinction at the 1996 Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria. He is also the author of the Music30 computer language for digital sound synthesis.

The Laurel Trio commissioned a new work for violin, violoncello and piano from composer Richard Festinger. Mr. Festinger attended San Francisco State University (B.A.) and the University of California at Berkeley (M.A., Ph.D.), where he studied composition with Andrew Imbrie. He has received commissions from such notable new-music ensembles as the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Parnassus, and the New York New Music Ensemble. His music has been performed throughout the United States and Europe by organizations such as Speculum Musicae, New Millennium, and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. A faculty member of San Francisco State University, Mr. Festinger also serves as director of that institution's Electronic Music Studio, and as a research affiliate of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University.

The Boston Musica Viva commissioned Osvaldo Golijov to create a new work for three vocalists and chamber ensemble. Born in La Plata, Argentina, in 1960, Mr. Golijov lived in Jerusalem before moving to the United States in 1986. He subsequently studied at the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D.) with George Crumb, and with Lukas Foss and Oliver Knussen at Tanglewood. Mr. Golijov's recent awards include two Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's Stoeger Prize for Contemporary Music, and the BMW Prize of the Munich Biennale. He has received commissions and grants from, among others, the Tanglewood and Oregon Bach festivals, the Guggenheim and Fromm foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Riverside Symphony commissioned Jonathan Harvey, which marks the second Koussevitzky award for Mr. Harvey. His first commission, Timepieces for orchestra, was completed in 1988. Mr. Harvey was born in Sutton Coldfield, England, in 1939, and he attended St. John's College in Cambridge. Later, at the urging of Benjamin Britten, he studied composition with Erwin Stein and Hans Keller, which provided him with a profound understanding of serial technique. After completing his Ph.D. at Edinburgh University in 1964, Mr. Harvey studied electronic music and composition with Milton Babbitt at Princeton University. In 1972 he was awarded the Mus.D. degree from Cambridge University. Mr. Harvey has received commissions from Europe's leading contemporary music ensembles and has recently worked with the Ensemble Modern at German Radio's Cologne studios, as did electronic music pioneer Karlheinz Stockhausen, about whom Mr. Harvey has written an authoritative study (The Music of Karlheinz Stockhausen, London, 1975).

The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players commissioned a new chamber work from Edwin London. Born in Philadelphia in 1929, Mr. London began his musical career as a hornist, playing principal horn in the Orquestra Sinfonica de Venezuela, as well as with other ensembles, including the Oscar Pettiford Jazz Band. He attended the Oberlin College Conservatory (M.A.) and the University of Iowa (M.F.A., Ph.D.), where his composition instructors included Luigi Dallapiccola, Darius Milhaud, Gunther Schuller and Philip Bezanson. Mr. London has received many awards and fellowships, including those from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Governor's Award from the State of Ohio, the American Music Center Letter of Distinction, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to his teaching duties at Cleveland State University, Mr. London serves as music director for the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and the new music choral ensemble Ineluctable Modality, both of which he founded.

The New York New Music Ensemble instructed Harvey Sollberger to compose a work for chamber ensemble. This is the second Koussevitzky Foundations commission for Mr. Sollberger. A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Mr. Sollberger studied at the University of Iowa with Philip Bezanson, and at Columbia University with Jack Beeson and Otto Luening. He has received awards from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim and Naumberg foundations, the New York State Council on the Arts, and in 1981, a special grant from the Fromm Foundation at Harvard University in recognition of his "distinguished service in the cause of contemporary music." Mr. Sollberger has taught at Columbia University, Indiana University and the Manhattan School of Music. He is a faculty member of the University of California at San Diego.

Lewis Spratlan was commissioned by the Foundations and the Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble of Boston to compose a new work for chamber ensemble. Mr. Spratlan was born in Miami in 1940. He studied oboe, theory and composition at Yale University's School of Music, where his principal teachers were Mel Powell, Gunther Schuller, Donald Martino and Yehudi Wyner. He has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Massachusetts Arts and Humanities Foundation, among others. In 1989, Mr. Spratlan toured the Soviet Union under the auspices of the Rockefeller Foundation, the International Research and Exchange Board, and the Soviet Composers' Union, which sponsored performances of his works. He is a faculty member at Amherst College.

The Orkest de Volharding of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, commissioned a new work for 13 instrumentalists from composer David Vayo. Mr. Vayo is a faculty member of the Illinois Wesleyan University, where he teaches composition, theory, and Latin American music. He has also taught at Connecticut College and at the National University of Costa Rica. Mr. Vayo has studied at the University of Michigan with Leslie Bassett and William Bolcom, and at Indiana University with Frederick Fox and Juan Orrego-Salas. He has received awards from ASCAP, the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and the American Music Center, among others. Mr. Vayo also serves as Membership Chair for the Society of Composers.

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PR 98-007
2/13/98
ISSN 0731-3527

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