NEC to Examine Music’s Place in History of Human Struggle in Year-Long Music: Truth to Power Festival
All-School, Multi-Genre Project to Emphasize Remarkable Diversity of Musical Styles Unique to Conservatory
Highlights Include North American Premiere of Tan Dun’s Concerto for Orchestra, Return to Symphony Hall, Whitbourn Cantata on Anne Frank Diaries, Schuller World Premiere, the Unconservatory
The centerpiece of New England Conservatory’s 2013-14 concert season will be a year-long, all-school, multi-genre festival that demonstrates just how vital music is to human struggle, and what revolution in artistic expression sounds like. Called Music: Truth to Power, the festival will exploit the rich diversity of musical styles that thrive at NEC. More than 30 programs will present everything from roots music to Beethoven, folk idioms to opera, fight songs to anti-war anthems.
“We wanted to build on the template we established two years ago during our Mahler Unleashed festival with its brilliant mash-up of styles and collaboration across all departments,” said President Tony Woodcock. “We believe that only NEC could offer such a range of musical genres performed on such a high level. At the heart of the project is the idea that music has always served as an expression and catalyst of change, whether political, societal, psychological or artistic. Throughout history, music has emerged—among other inspirations—from the fractures of social and cultural upheaval in many guises and with many messages—protest, outrage, quiet suffering, defiance, anguish, submission, reflection, and hope. It challenges the status quo, galvanizes action, distills the spirit of the age, and offers resolution, solace, and release.”
The festival opens September 25 when Hugh Wolff, Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood Director of Orchestras, conducts the NEC Philharmonia in the North American premiere of Tan Dun’s Concerto for Orchestra (after Marco Polo). Composed in 2012, the work offers a meditation on the famous Italian traveler’s journey (both physical and spiritual) to the Far East in revolutionary language that borrows and layers together eastern and western idioms. It continues through April 23, when Wolff and the Philharmonia return to Boston’s Symphony Hall for Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11, "The Year 1905".
Among the highlights of the festival:
• NEC Choruses, under the direction of Erica Washburn will perform James Whitbourn’s cantata, Annelies, based on Anne Frank’s diaries;
• The Opera Department will stage the chamber opera, The Emperor of Atlantis, from Terezin concentration camp composer Viktor Ullmann;
• The Piano Department will program works including Jan Ladislav Dussek’s The Sufferings of the Queen of France and John Zorn’s North American Ballads.
• The Contemporary Ensemble under John Heiss will perform John Harbison’s Abu Graib; and Berio’s O King.
• The Wind Ensemble will look at the roots of Third Stream and present a world premiere by Gunther Schuller, the father of Third Stream.
• The NEC Jazz Orchestra, with Ken Schaphorst conducting, will present a stirring program called: Jazz and the Struggle for Freedom and Equality
• The Intercultural Institute in coordination with the Theory and Music History departments will present a whole weekend of programs on Ghanaian music.
• Contemporary Improvisation students and faculty will perform A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall, a program of original works and recompositions that explore our identities as artists in relation to struggles, challenges, and social issues.
• Entrepreneurial Musicianship students will curate and perform a program provocatively titled The Unconservatory.
• And the Music History, Theory, and Liberal Arts faculty will put all this music in context with a wide range of seminars, panel discussions, lectures, and classes. So for example, James Klein will present a public lecture on Anne Frank and teach a Holocaust class, and Patrick Keppel will a class on Bertolt Brecht and direct a performance of his own play, Triangle, about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.
All events begin at 8:00 p.m. in Jordan Hall, and are free unless otherwise noted. Visit the website for complete information and updates. Or call the NEC Concert Line at 617-585-1122. NEC’s Jordan Hall, Brown Hall, Williams Hall and the Keller Room are located at 30 Gainsborough St., corner of Huntington Ave. St. Botolph Hall is located at 241 St. Botolph St. between Gainsborough and Mass Ave.
The programs follow:
Music and culture of Zimbabwe.
September 10 - 4pm - Pierce Hall
Music in a Period of World Conflict: Africa and the U.S.
Discussion of Mbira music and its role in a period of conflict in its place of origin.
September 11 - 4pm - Pierce Hall
Marco Polo in the Forbidden City
Hugh Wolff conducts NEC Philharmonia in North American premiere of Tan Dun's Concerto for Orchestra (after Marco Polo), a look at the geographical, musical, and spiritual journeys that made Marco Polo's Silk Road odyssey more than just a road trip. Also on the program, Brahms: Symphony No. 1.
NEC Distinguished Artist-in-Residence Russell Sherman performs works that revolutionized the piano literature, from Chopin to Scriabin. Schoenberg: Drei Klavierstuecke, Op. 11; Debussy: Estampes; Scriabin: Sonata No. 4 in F-sharp Major, Op. 30; Chopin: 24 Preludes, Op. 28.
Mozart: La Clemenza di Tito
Writing on commission for a coronation, Mozart made benevolence, mercy, and wise governance his subject. Stephen Lord, Artistic Advisor for Opera, conducts the all student cast and orchestra. Joshua Major, Chair of Opera Studies, directs the concert staging.
Colgrass: Winds of Nagual
With movement titles like "Carlos Stares at the River and Becomes a Bubble," Michael Colgrass took programmatic music in a radical new direction in this 1985 work for wind ensemble based on the writings of Carlos Castaneda. Charles Peltz, Director of Wind Ensemble Activities, and Frank Battisti, his teacher and predecessor, share the podium. The program also includes works of Stravinsky, Grainger, and Giovanni Gabrieli.
October 10 - 7pm - Jordan Hall
To the Victims of Fascism and War
Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 10, dedicated "to the victims of fascism and war," has taken on a second life in its adaptation as Chamber Symphony, Op. 118a. The conductorless NEC Chamber Orchestra, coached by Donald Palma, performs this work and others by Haydn and Séjourné.
Annelies: Anne Frank's Diary
Erica Washburn conducts choral works based on Anne Frank's diary, and music written during her lifetime.
Ran Blake, Aaron Hartley, and the NEC Storyboarding/Noir Ensemble accompany a classic of film noir and other "dark" films by one of Hollywood's most notorious rebels, Otto Preminger.
With his title, John Adams announces that he is literally schooling the orchestra audience on harmony. Adams starts with Schoenberg's radical reinvention (and eponymous work) of where harmony can go, then asks, "did we leave something important behind?" Conductor/pianist Jeffrey Kahane returns to lead the NEC Philharmonia, performing from the keyboard the Mozart Piano Concerto in C Major K. No. 25 K. 503, as well as the Adams work.
Smith: Ten Freedom Summers
Music from Ghanaian composer Ephraim Amu leads into an excerpt from Wadada Leo Smith's civil rights epic.
Caged Birds: Opera from Terezin
Despite its fairytale title, composer Viktor Ullmann and librettist Peter Kien wrote The Emperor of Atlantis as a thinly veiled tale of tyranny, while imprisoned in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
November 23 - 8pm / November 24 - 3pm
Center for Arts at the Armory, Somerville
Stephen Drury, who specializes in challenging new music of all eras, performs Rzewski’s North American Ballad No. 1 ("Dreadful Memories"); Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, John Zorn’s Carny, Lee Hyla’s Basic Training.
NEC liberal arts chair Patrick Keppel created his 2008 play about the 1911 Triangle shirtwaist factory fire with support from the Jim Henson Foundation, Vermont Arts Council, and National Endowment for the Arts. NEC's presentation of this play will include music performed by Contemporary Improvisation students.
January 16 - 8pm, Brown Hall
Complete Bartók String Quartets
In a single evening, NEC's quartet-in-residence, the Borromeo String Quartet, performs all six of Béla Bartók's string quartets. Written between 1909 and 1939, these works are like snapshots of the radical series of moves that we now call Modernism.
January 22 - 7:30pm - Jordan Hall
Harbison: Abu Ghraib
Contemporary composers including John Harbison and Luciano Berio have responded with music to events of their times. John Heiss conducts members of NEC’s Contemporary Ensemble in Harbison’s cello/piano piece on the shameful events in an Iraqi prison along with Berio’s O King, a meditation on the words of Martin Luther King Jr.
Pianists: Start the Revolution with Me
From the French Revolution to U.S. labor struggles, composers have challenged pianists to tell truth to power. NEC’s Piano majors perform revolutionary works from the 18th to the 21st centuries. Music to include Dussek: The Sufferings of the Queen of France; Beethoven: Sonata in A flat-Major, Op. 26 (“Funeral March”); Janacek: Piano Sonata 1.X.1905; Rzewski: Four North American Ballads--
Dreadful Memories; Which Side Are You On; Down by the Riverside;Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues. Presented in conjunction with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Insight Series.
Napoleon to Dr. King: Where Are the Heroes?
David Loebel conducts the NEC Symphony in Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony, dedicated to the Enlightenment hero that Napoleon was supposed to be (until the First Consul had himself proclaimed Emperor), and Schwantner's New Morning of the World, using texts by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Piano, Before and After Beethoven
The modern piano—which obliterated its instrumental precursors—is synonymous with Beethoven. So what preceded and followed this revolution that even resulted in the revolution of the instrument to include its current 88 keys? NEC Piano majors perform Mozart: Sonata in A minor, K. 310; Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2, Concord, Mass., 1840–60; Beethoven: Sonata in F-minor, Op. 57 (“Appassionata”). Presented in conjunction with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Insight Series.
Shostakovich's rarely performed Symphony No. 2 is a brief spurt celebrating the conflagration of Russia's October Revolution of 1917; Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 is a vast and joyful ode to the aspirations of the revolutions of his lifetime. Hugh Wolff conducts the NEC Philharmonia and Choruses.
Schuller World Premiere; Mingus Live Performance Premiere
With his declaration of the Third Stream in 1957, Gunther Schuller made all musical borderlines null and void. Charles Peltz conducts the NEC Wind Ensemble in this first look at where Schuller draws the line in 2014. Also on the program is the live performance premiere of Charles Mingus’s Half Mast Inhibitions. Gunther Schuller recorded this earliest orchestral work by visionary jazz bassist Mingus in 1960—it is not believed to have been performed in concert until now. Other works on the program that also exemplify Third Stream by Milhaud, Grainger, Babbitt, Russell, and Zappa.
February 13 - 7pm - Jordan Hall
A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall
Contemporary Improvisation students and faculty respond to how music shapes and is shaped by our place in the world around us.
Students, convened by the NEC Entrepreneurial Musicianship department, imagine a world without borders, including musical ones.
February 19 - 8pm - Brown Hall
African Music Festival
Ghanaian composer Ephraim Amu's music is said to have triggered a "quiet revolution" that contributed to his country's march to independence.
February 21-22 - conference at NEC, Tufts
Dittersdorf's Taking of the Bastille sets the tone for this program by the conductorless NEC Chamber Orchestra, coached by Donald Palma. Also on the program K.A.Hartmann: Concerto funèbre; Górecki: Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 (“Symphony of sorrowful Songs”) Lento e largo tranquillissimo.
Jazz and the Struggle for Freedom and Equality
Ken Schaphorst leads NEC Jazz Orchestra in landmark works created to combat racism and bigotry.
While the Third Reich Was Rising
German composers including Hindemith and Weill ran out the back door to the U.S. while the Nazis broke through the front. The NEC Philharmonia and conductor David Loebel perform Kurt Weill: Mahagonny Suite; Alban Berg: Violin Concerto (student soloist tba), and Hindemith: Symphony: Mathis der Maler.
Schuller World Premiere, Mingus Live Performance Premiere (Repeat performance)
Charles Peltz and the NEC Wind Ensemble and William Drury and the NEC Symphonic Winds offer repeat performances of recent programs for the College Band Directors National Association Conference.
March 6 - 7pm - Jordan Hall
Written for a Survivor
Maurice Ravel was one of many composers who wrote new repertoire for a great concert pianist, Paul Wittgenstein, determined to continue his career after his right arm was amputated during World War I. The NEC Symphony and conductor Hugh Wolff perform music that revolutionized compositional history including: Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde; Ravel: Piano Concerto for the Left Hand (Student soloist tba); Ives: The Unanswered Question; Gershwin: An American in Paris.
William Weinert conducts NEC Chamber Singers in music based on chorales written by the leader of the German Reformation.
Turkish Songs of Protest
Robert Labaree and Dünya Ensemble perform music based on Ottoman poetry from the 16th century to the present.
The General Slocum and Other Unanswered Questions
A century after he wrote it, Charles Ives's music still provokes questions about what kind of stories a composer can tell, and how it can be done. Guest conductor Christopher Wilkins leads the NEC Philharmonia in Ives: The General Slocum and The Yale-Princeton Football Game; Schnittke: Viola Concerto or Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 2 ( Student soloist tba); Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique.
Music of John Zorn
This performance with NEC students concludes residency with one of the contemporary ringleaders of genre-defying music making.
Songs of Revolution
Contemporary Improvisation ensembles pair American and Czech source songs with related works by Karel Husa, William Schuman, and Michael Tilson Thomas performed by NEC wind ensembles under the direction of Charles Peltz and William Drury.
April 15 - 7pm - Jordan Hall
Sun Ra Centennial
Ken Schaphorst leads NEC Jazz Orchestra in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Sun Ra's arrival day on this planet.
The Revolution Begins
Presented in association with Celebrity Series of Boston, High Wolff conducts NEC Philharmonia in Symphony Hall. The program: Shostakovich's Symphony No. 11, "The Year 1905"—representing a decisive moment in the road to the Russian Revolution.
April 23 - 8pm - Symphony Hall - tickets on sale early 2014
ABOUT NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY
A cultural icon approaching its 150th anniversary in 2017, New England Conservatory (NEC) is recognized worldwide as a leader among music schools. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, on the Avenue of the Arts in the Fenway Cultural District, NEC offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate music students from around the world. Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. NEC alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide. Half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC-trained musicians and faculty.
NEC is the oldest independent school of music in the United States. Founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee, an American music educator, choral conductor and organist, its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions. On the college level, NEC features training in classical, jazz, and Contemporary Improvisation. Graduate and post-graduate programs supplement these core disciplines with orchestral conducting and professional chamber music training. Additional programs, such as the Sistema Fellows, a professional training program for top postgraduate musicians and music educators that creates careers connected to music, youth, and social change, and Entrepreneurial Musicianship, a cutting-edge program integrating professional and personal skills development into the musical training of students to better develop the skills and knowledge needed to create one’s own musical opportunities, also enhance the NEC experience.
Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Programs and Partnerships Program, the Conservatory provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, and adults. 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, jazz, and Contemporary Improvisation. Currently more than 750 young artists from 46 states and 39 foreign countries attend NEC on the college level; 1,400 young students attend on the Preparatory level; and 325 adults participate in the Continuing Education program.
The only conservatory in the United States designated a National Historic Landmark, NEC presents more than 900 free concerts each year. Many of these take place in Jordan Hall (which shares National Historic Landmark status with the school), world-renowned for its superb acoustics and beautifully restored interior. In addition to Jordan Hall, more than a dozen performance spaces of various sizes and configurations are utilized to meet the requirements of the unique range of music performed at NEC, from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to big band jazz, Contemporary Improvisation, and opera scenes. Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre or Paramount Center in Boston, and a semi-staged performance in Jordan Hall. This past 2012-2013 season, the operas produced were Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, and Rossini’s La Gazzetta.
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
Senior Communications Specialist
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115