February 17, 2010

NEC Faculty Composer Kati Agócs to Have Orchestral Work Premiered at Olympics

Elysium Featured on Cultural Olympiad Program at Vancouver's Chan Centre, March 15

Kati AgocsCanada's National Arts Centre Orchestra will premiere Elysium, a new work composed by NEC faculty composer Kati Agócs, on its 2010 Cultural Olympiad program March 15 at the Chan Centre on the University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver.  Julian Kuerti will conduct the program of works by Canadian composers. Agócs' new work, scored for chamber orchestra, solo cello, and tape (recorded sound), was commissioned for this occasion by the orchestra and its music director, Pinchas Zukerman.

Elysium was originally conceived for flute ensemble and was commissioned in that form by the Canada Council for the Arts. The flute version is scheduled for premiere by Ensemble de Flûtes Alizé in Montréal in the autumn of 2010. The National Arts Centre learned about the piece last summer, and decided to commission an orchestral version for the Olympic concert on March 15.

According to Agócs, "Elysium could be called 'Island of Heroes'. The Elysian fields, in ancient Greek mythology, were the final resting place of heroes, a kind of paradise. The piece is aligned with the Olympic spirit in that it captures the struggle between humans and the omnipotent forces of nature, and the triumph of human perseverance and faith over adversity. At the center of the work is a story that endures universally in the cultural mythology of many seafaring nations: that of a shipwreck that leaves a lone survivor holding on to a rock all night as waves dash around him, and singing hymns to keep his faith strong until he is finally rescued at the emergence of dawn's first light."
Born in Windsor, Canada of American and Hungarian parents, Agócs trained in the United States, receiving her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from the Juilliard School where her principal teacher was Milton Babbitt. From 2006 through 2008 she taught at the School of Music, Memorial University of Newfoundland before joining the NEC faculty in September 2008.

Critics have praised her music for its "soulful directness," "fluidity and austere beauty," and she has been widely sought out for commissions. Among recent ones are Requiem Fragments for the CBC Radio Orchestra (Vancouver), I and Thou for the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble (New York), Pearls for the American Composers Orchestra (New York) and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Immutable Dreams for the Da Capo Chamber Players (New York), Division of Heaven and Earth for pianist Fredrik Ullén (Stockholm, Sweden), Supernatural Love for Duo Concertante (St. John’s, Newfoundland), By the Streams of Babylon for the Albany Symphony, As Biddeth Thy Tongue for saxophonist Timothy McAllister, Coloratura for the PRISM Saxophone Quartet, and Imagination of Their Hearts for Antares.

In the 2008-2009 season, Agócs enjoyed a first collaboration with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, when that orchestra performed By the Streams of Babylon. That same year, Immutable Dreams was heard across the U.S. and Canada, as part of a national tour by the Grammy-winning chamber ensemble eighth blackbird, at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and at Western Front in Vancouver.

For further information, check the NEC Website.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.

NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 106-year old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory