Composer Lee Hyla (1952–2014), who died earlier this summer, was a beloved member of the New England Conservatory community, with relationships built during his time as a student here in the early 1970s, as well as his 15 years on the faculty, from 1992 through 2007.
Hyla's relationships with Boston performers form the foundation of a memorial concert to be held at NEC's Jordan Hall on Thursday, September 25, at 8pm. The concert is organized by Stephen Drury of NEC's faculty, who instigated and has been a strong advocate for some of Hyla's most important music for solo piano. At the time of Hyla's death, Drury said: “Lee’s enormous gifts as a composer and teacher completely matched every aspect of his deeply human qualities as a person.”
Hyla had broad geographic reach as a composer of note, with commissions from such international figures as Midori and Vadim Repin, as well as such funders as Meet the Composer and Chamber Music America—just to mention works performed on NEC's memorial concert.
But the bulk of this concert program is being performed by Boston artists who also premiered the works they have programmed: Callithumpian Consort, Firebird Ensemble, Lydian String Quartet, pianists Stephen Drury and Judith Gordon. These performers of Hyla's music had the opportunity to work with him during his time here, and it is their enthusiasm as much as Hyla's time in Boston that makes this celebration of his life and work a local affair.
Several works on this program tell the tale of Hyla's various homes. The title of Ciao Manhattan voices Hyla's decision to leave New York to move back to Boston and accept a teaching position at NEC. My Life on the Plains alludes to another such move, to teach at Northwestern University in Illinois. Migración, one of Hyla's last completed compositions, was premiered in Boston last winter as part of what would have been one of two Hyla residencies here—neither of which was ultimately possible.
Works performed on this program, all by Lee Hyla:
String Quartet no 3 (1989) - performed by Lydian String Quartet
Basic Training (1994) - performed by Stephen Drury, piano
Migración (2013), Ciao Manhattan (1990) - performed by Callithumpian Consort
Field Guide (2006) - performed by Firebird Ensemble
Warble (2008) - performed by Sarah Brady, flute; Yoko Hagino, piano
My Life on the Plains (2010) - solo cadenzas performed by Sarah Bob, piano
Third Party (1998) - performed by Judith Gordon, piano
Passeggiata for solo violin (2007) - performed by Gabriela Diaz