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Da Capo Chamber Players Present  “Da Capo’s Joan: A 70th Birthday Portrait of Joan Tower” on Sunday, September 14


Eleanor Davis

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.— The Bard Center presents “Da Capo’s Joan: A 70th Birthday Portrait of Joan Tower,” an evening of works by acclaimed composer and Bard faculty member Joan Tower, her colleagues and former students, on Sunday, September 14. The program is free and open to the public, beginning at 3:00 p.m. in Olin Hall.

Joan Tower was a founding member and pianist with Da Capo for the ensemble’s first 15 years. Da Capo members will contribute a short “Fanfare for an Uncommon Composer.” The program also includes Tower’s “Noon Dance” and “Trio Cavany”; Tania León’s “Alma”; Chen Yi’s “Happy Rain on a Spring Night”; Sergei Tcherpepnin’s “Regenerations”; and the world premiere of “Cloud Forest,” written for the occasion by Bard student Conor Brown. “The Da Capo Chamber Players have been exploring and helping [to] create the modern repertory for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano for the last 30 years,” writes Allan Kozinn in the New York Times.

Da Capo is widely acclaimed for its virtuosity, stimulating programs, and openness to a wide spectrum of styles in new music. Its dedication to working with composers is matched by a commitment to rehearsing each piece as a living entity, rather than as a fixed blueprint. Winner of the Naumburg Chamber Music Award in 1973, Da Capo has been a leader in building a strong heritage of present-day American chamber music and can point with pride to more than 90 chamber music works written especially for the ensemble by Joan Tower, Philip Glass, Harvey Sollberger, and Philippe Bodin, among many others. The Da Capo Chamber Players are flutist Patricia Spencer, clarinetist Meighan Stoops, violinist Curtis Macomber, cellist André Emelianoff, and pianist Blair McMillen. Guest artists for the performance are violist Lois Martin, percussionists Mathew Gold and Mathew O’Koren, and Conor Brown, effects processor.

Hailed as "one of the most successful woman composers of all time" in the New Yorker magazine, Joan Tower was the first woman to receive the Grawemeyer Award in Composition in 1990. She was inducted in 1998 into the prestigious

American Academy of Arts and Letters, and into the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University in the fall of 2004. She was the first composer chosen for the ambitious new Ford Made in America commissioning program, a collaboration of the league of American Orchestras and Meet the Composer. Made in America was premiered in October 2005 and has since been performed in every state in the Union. The Nashville Symphony and conductor Leonard Slatkin recorded Made in America, Tambor, and Concerto for Orchestra for the Naxos label, and the top-selling recording won three 2008 Grammy awards: Best Classical Contemporary Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. Tower’s tremendously popular five Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman have been played by more than 500 different ensembles.

Since 1972, Tower has taught at Bard College, where she is Asher B. Edelman Professor  in the Arts. This year she concluded her tenure as composer in residence with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a title she has held at the Deer Valley Festival in Utah since 1998 and at the Yale/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival for eight years. Tower has added conductor to her list of accomplishments, with engagements at the American Symphony Orchestra, Hudson Valley Philharmonic,  and Scotia Festival Orchestra, as well as eight other Made in Americaorchestras, among others.

The Da Capo Chamber Players

André Emelianoff has toured throughout North America, Japan, Russia, Austria, and England, and given recitals throughout central Asia and the Mediterranean as an American Ambassador for the Arts, sponsored by the USIA. A cellist with the Da Capo Chamber Players since 1976, he is also a member of the Aeolian Chamber Players, and has been involved with the Music Today Ensemble. Winner of a 1985 NEA Solo Recitalist Award, he has commissioned works by Aaron Kernis, Joan Tower, George Perle, Richard Wernick, Shulamit Ran, Stephen Jaffe, and Gerald Levinson. His guest artist appearances include the Houston Da Camera, New Jersey Chamber Society, and Lincoln Center Chamber Society, and he has been a participant in the Marlboro, Chamber Music West, and Piccolo Spoleto Festivals and a soloist with Albany Symphony. Emelianoff is on the faculty at The Juilliard School as well as the Round Top (Texas) Festival and the Perlman Program. He has recorded for CRI, Opus One, New World Records, Nonesuch, GM Recordings, RCA, Bridge Records, and Pro Arte. In 1997, Emelianoff made his Salzburg Festival debut with performances of chamber music.

Curtis Macomber is one of the most versatile soloists/chamber musicians before the public today, equally at home in repertoire from Bach to Babbitt. As a member of the New World String Quartet from 1982–93, he performed in virtually all the important concert series in this country as well as touring abroad. He is the violinist of Speculum Musicae and Da Capo, and a founding member of the Apollo Trio. His most recent recordings include a solo recording (Casting Ecstatic), on CRI; the complete Grieg Sonatas on Arabesque; and an all-Steve Mackey record (Interior Design) on Bridge. Macomber is currently a member of the chamber music faculty of The Juilliard School, where he earned B.M., M.M., and D.M.A. degrees as a student of Joseph Fuchs. He is also on the violin faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, and has taught at the Tanglewood, Taos, and Yellow Barn Music Festivals.

Blair McMillen has established himself as one of the most versatile and sought-after young pianists today. The New York Times has described his playing as “brilliant,” “riveting,” and “prodigiously accomplished and exciting.” Recent appearances include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Caramoor, Harvard University, Maverick Concerts, and Concerten Tot un Met (Amsterdam); concerto performances with American Ballet Theatre, and Miller Theatre’s 15th-anniversary “Piano Revolution” series. Equally at home in both new and traditional repertoire, McMillen recently gave the U.S. premiere of Frederic Rzewski’s piano piece “Dust,” and he presented a critically acclaimed recital at Columbia University featuring keyboard music from the late 14th-century Codex Faenza. A solo CD, Soundings, with music by Liszt, Scriabin, Copland, and Debussy, was released in late 2004. In addition to Da Capo Mr. McMillen is pianist for the composer/performer collective counter) induction, as well as the downtown New York City-based Avian Orchestra. An active improviser and self-taught jazz pianist, he is currently on the faculty at Bard College.

Patricia Spencer’s recital in Moscow for the Alternativa Festival (October 2002) was a fresh highlight in a career devoted to new music. Her highly acclaimed premiere of Shulamit Ran’s flute concerto, Voices, for the 2000 National Flute Association convention, is one previous highlight. For the Sonic Boom Festival in the fall of 2001, she premiered solo flute works by Louis Karchin and Eugene Lee to audience and critical praise. As a soloist and as a flutist with the Da Capo Chamber Players, she has toured throughout the United States and abroad, including solo performances at the 1999 International Computer Music Conference in Beijing, China. An exciting repertoire of pieces has been written for her, including title works of her solo CD, Thea Musgrave’s Narcissus and Judith Shatin’s Kairos (Neuma Records). An earlier CD, with pianist Linda Hall, features Boulez’s Sonatine along with works by Carter, Perle, Korde, Talma, Martirano, Kreiger, and Jaffe. Both CDs have been greeted with rave reviews from Fanfare and the American Record Guide. Spencer has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Mary Flagler Cary Trust, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music for her solo recordings and commissioning projects. As a recitalist and as a Da Capo member, she has commissioned more than 80 solo, duo, and chamber works for flute. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, where she was a student of Robert Willoughby, Spencer continued her studies with Marcel Moyse, John Wummer, and Josef Marx. She teaches flute and chamber music at Bard College and Hofstra University.

Clarinetist Meighan Stoops has distinguished herself in both in the classical and new-music realms as a solo, chamber, and orchestral performer. In 2005 alone, she performed with artists as diverse as Peter Schickele, Elvis Costello, and tabla virtuoso Pandit Samir Chatterjee. She has appeared at the Moscow Forum and Autumn festivals, St. Petersburg Sound Ways festival, Merkin Hall, the Knitting Factory, the Fisher Center at Bard College, and many other prestigious venues. In a recent New York Times review of a program of works by Joan Tower and George Crumb, Allan Kozinn noted that “Meighan Stoops … had a star turn in Ms. Tower’s Wings.” Another review glowingly said she “energized Shulamit Ran’s Private Game with real musical dash.” Stoops can be heard with other ensembles, such as Gotham Sinfonietta, American Modern Ensemble, the Colorado Quartet, Sequitur, Music from Japan, International Society of Contemporary Music, John Eaton’s Pocket Opera Players, Ensemble Sospeso, Sylvan Winds, and the Quintet of the Americas. With the Quintet, she had the great honor of performing at the September 11th Commemorative Ceremony at Ground Zero. She is currently principal clarinet in the Garden State Philharmonic and routinely plays with several New York orchestras: Brooklyn Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Dicapo Opera, to name a few. She has recorded for CRI, Naxos, Albany, and Chesky Records (Area 31, Grammy nominated). She can be heard on the soundtrack of Muhammed: Legacy of a Prophet, a PBS documentary with music by Martin Bresnick, and Solidarity, a short film directed by Nancy Kiang with music by Richard Carrick. She made her co-compositional and theatrical debut last year in Greed: A Musical Love Story, a musical written and directed by Robert Honeywell as part of the Sellout Festival at the Brick Theater. According to, “…Stoops’ witty and tuneful score kept me laughing the entire time (days later, I’m also still humming the songs—a great sign).” Ms. Stoops holds degrees from Northwestern and Yale universities, where her teachers were Russell Dagon, Charlie Neidich, and David Shifrin. She teaches clarinet, recorder, and piano and each summer coaches young composers at the Walden School in Dublin, New Hampshire.


Tania León, born in Cuba, is highly regarded as a composer and conductor recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and adviser to arts organizations. León’s Ácana for orchestra was jointly commissioned and premiered by Orpheus at Carnegie Hall and by the Purchase College Orchestra. Ancients for two sopranos and mixed ensemble was the first commission by Carolina Performing Arts for the Festival on the Hill 2008. She was named Distinguished Professor of the City University of New York in 2006. León has been visiting lecturer at Harvard University, and visiting professor at Yale University, University of Michigan, University of Kansas, Purchase College, and the Musikschule in Hamburg.

Born April 4, 1953, in Guangzhou, China, Chen Yi studied violin and piano from the age of three. She has held numerous appointments and has received many prestigious awards and grants. Dr. Yi has been the Lorena Searcey Cravens/Millsap/Missouri Distinguished Professor in Music Composition at the Conservatory of the University of Missouri-Kansas City since 1998. Her numerous commissions include works for some of the world’s top orchestras in North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as for performers such as Yo-Yo Ma and Evelyn Glennie.

Sergei Tcherepnin received his B.A. in 2004 from Bard College, where he studied music and photography, and has since been active as a composer and improviser. His work has been performed by the Da Capo Chamber Players, Dinosaur Annex, St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, and the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, among others.

Conor Brown is a composer and clarinetist from Boulder, Colorado. He currently studies at The Bard College Conservatory of Music with composers Joan Tower and George Tsontakis and clarinetists David Krakauer and Laura Flax. He has been awarded a place on the roster of the Young Musician’s Foundation of Colorado and is an alumnus of the Denver Young Artists Orchestra.

These concerts are made possible, in part, through the generosity of the Homeland Foundation and the Leon Levy Endowment at Bard College. No reservations are necessary; seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For further information about the program, call the Bard Center at 845-758-7425.

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This event was last updated on 09-15-2008