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Bard College Conservatory of Music Celebrates Acclaimed Composer Joan Tower's 75th Birthday With a Benefit Gala

Program Features Compositions by Tower Performed by Tower, Blair McMillen, and Kayo Iwama on Piano, Soprano Dawn Upshaw, Cellist Peter Wiley, Violist Steven Tenenbom, the Daedalus Quartet, and Horszowski Trio

Mark Primoff
 Image Credit: Janos Sutyak
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Joan Tower, the Asher Edelman Professor in the Arts at Bard College, is renowned as one of America’s most important living composers. This September, The Bard College Conservatory of Music celebrates Tower with a gala, “Joan Tower and Friends Celebrate Her 75th Birthday,” to benefit the Joan Tower Composition Scholarship. The program features Tower’s compositions performed by Tower, Blair McMillen, and Kayo Iwama on piano; soprano Dawn Upshaw; cellist Peter Wiley; violist Steven Tenenbom; the Daedalus Quartet; and the Horszowski Trio. The concert will be held in the László Z. Bitó Conservatory Building Performance Space on Saturday, September 7 at 7:30 p.m. A reception will follow the concert in the Blithewood mansion. Tickets are $7,500 for sponsorship, $75 for individuals, and 75 cents for students. To purchase tickets or for more information, call (845) 758-7196 or e-mail


Joan Tower and Friends Celebrate Her 75th Birthday presents six compositions by Tower. Dumbarton Quintet (2008), commissioned by the Dumbarton Oaks Estate, is a 14-minute work in one movement that travels through several themes with different emotional contents. Simply Purple (2008), commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and dedicated to the extraordinary violist Paul Neubauer, is Tower’s third piece that includes the word “purple” written for the viola, which Tower has always thought of as having a deep kind of rich purple sound. For Daniel (2004), written for the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio with a commission sponsored by John and Helen Schaefer of the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music, is a 17-minute work that tries to convey the struggles of someone who is facing a long-term terminal illness. Tres Lent (1994) is Tower’s attempt to make “slow” music work, inspired by the many risks Messiaen took — particularly the use of very slow “time,” both in tempo and in the flow of ideas and events. Following Up High (2010), which features soprano Dawn Upshaw, White Water (2011)—the first of four commissions for Chamber Music Monterey Bay’s “Arc of Life” project, in which glissandos create a “fluid” environment while “white water” implies more rapid “cascading” types of action occurring throughout the piece—closes the program.




Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. During a career spanning more than 50 years, she has made lasting contributions to musical life in the United States as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C., among others.

In 1990, Tower became the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders. She was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission of 65 orchestras. The Nashville Symphony and conductor Leonard Slatkin recorded that work, Made in America, with Tambor and Concerto for Orchestra for the Naxos label. The top-selling recording won three 2008 Grammy awards: Best Classical Contemporary Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance.

From 1969 to 1984, she was pianist and founding member of the Naumburg Award–winning Da Capo Chamber Players, which commissioned and premiered many of her most popular works. Her first orchestral work, Sequoia, quickly entered the repertory. Tower’s tremendously popular five Fanfares for the Uncommon Woman have been played by more than 500 different ensembles. She is currently Asher Edelman Professor in the Arts at Bard College, where she has taught since 1972.

Her composer-residencies with orchestras and festivals include a decade with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Composer of the Year for their 2010–11 season, as well as the St. Louis Symphony, Deer Valley Music Festival, and Yale/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. She is in residence as the Albany Symphony’s Mentor Composer partner in the 2013–14 season.

Among her recent premieres: White Water (2012), commissioned by Chamber Music Monterey Bay and premiered by the Daedalus Quartet; Stroke (2011), commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; White Granite (2009), commissioned by St. Timothy’s Summer Music Festival, Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, and La Jolla Music Society for SummerFest; Angels (2008), her fourth string quartet, commissioned by Music for Angel Fire and premiered by the Miami String Quartet; Dumbarton Quintet (2008), a piano quintet commissioned by the Dumbarton Oaks Estate (their third commission after Stravinsky and Copland) and premiered by Tower and the Enso String Quartet; Chamber Dance (2006), commissioned, premiered, and toured by Orpheus; and Copperwave (2006), written for the American Brass Quintet and commissioned by The Juilliard School of Music. A Gift (2007), for winds and piano, was commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest and premiered by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS). Other CMS premieres included Trio Cavany (2007) and Simply Purple (2008) for viola, performed by Paul Neubauer.

Her compositions cross many genres: Descending (0000), for chorus, commissioned and premiered by the Cantorum Virtousi; Copperwave (2006), written for brass quintet; DNA (2003), a percussion quintet commissioned for Frank Epstein and the New England Conservatory Percussion

Ensemble; Fascinating Ribbons (2001), her foray into the world of band music, premiered at the annual conference of College Band Directors; Vast Antique Cubes/Throbbing Still (2000), a solo piano piece for John Browning; Tambor (1998), for the Pittsburgh Symphony under the baton of Mariss Jansons; and her ballet Stepping Stones (1993), commissioned by choreographer Kathryn Posin for the Milwaukee Ballet and revisited by Posin with the Bulgarian Ballet in June 2011. Joan Tower’s music is published by Associated Music Publishers.

            Tower has received honorary degrees from the New England Conservatory (2003) and Smith College (2013). She has three Naxos recordings—two orchestral and one chamber—planned for release next year.



Daedalus Quartet

The Daedalus Quartet consists of Min-Young Kim and Matilda Kaul, violins; Jessica Thompson, viola; and Thomas Kraines, cello. Praised by the New Yorker as “a fresh and vital young participant in what is a golden age of American string quartets,” the Daedalus has established itself as a leader among the new generation of string ensembles. In the 11 years of its existence the quartet has received plaudits from critics and listeners alike for the security, technical finish, interpretive unity, and sheer gusto of its performances. The New York Times has praised the Daedalus Quartet’s “insightful and vibrant” Haydn, the “impressive intensity” of their Beethoven, their “luminous” Berg, and the “riveting focus” of their Dutilleux. The Washington Post has acclaimed their performance of Mendelssohn for its “rockets of blistering virtuosity,” while the Houston Chronicle has described the “silvery beauty” of their Schubert and the “magic that hushed the audience” when they played Ravel. The Boston Globe noted the “finesse and fury” of their Shostakovich, the Toronto Globe and Mail the “thrilling revelation” of their Hindemith, and the Cincinnati Enquirer the “tremendous emotional power” of their Brahms.

Since its founding the Daedalus Quartet has performed in many of the world’s leading musical venues. In the United States and Canada these include Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center (Great Performers series), the Library of Congress, Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., and Boston’s Gardner Museum, as well as in major series in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. Abroad the ensemble has been heard in such famed locations as the Musikverein in Vienna, Mozarteum in Salzburg, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Cité de la Musique in Paris, and in leading venues in Japan.

The Daedalus Quartet has won plaudits for its adventurous exploration of contemporary music, most notably the compositions of Elliott Carter, George Perle, György Kurtág and György Ligeti. Among the works the ensemble has premiered is David Horne’s Flight from the Labyrinth, commissioned for the quartet by the Caramoor Festival; Fred Lerdahl’s Third String Quartet, commissioned by Chamber Music America; and Lawrence Dillion’s String Quartet No. 4, commissioned by the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts. The 2010–11 season featured the premiere of Richard Wernick’s String Quartet No. 8, commissioned for the Daedalus Quartet by the Bay Shore Schools Arts Education Fund and the Islip Arts Council. Daedalus premiered a new quartet from Joan Tower, commissioned for them by Chamber Music Monterey Bay, in April 2012. The quartet has also collaborated with some of the world’s finest instrumentalists: these include pianists Marc-André Hamelin, Simone Dinnerstein, Awadagin Pratt, Joyce Yang, and Benjamin Hochman; clarinetists Paquito D’Rivera, David Shifrin, and Alexander Fiterstein; and violists Roger Tapping and Donald Weilerstein.

To date the Daedalus has forged associations with some of America’s leading classical music and educational institutions: Carnegie Hall, through its European Concert Hall Organization (ECHO) Rising Stars program; and Lincoln Center, which appointed the Daedalus Quartet as the Chamber

Music Society Two quartet for 2005-07. The Daedalus Quartet has been Columbia University’s Quartet-in-Residence since 2005, and has served as quartet-in-residence at the University of Pennsylvania since 2006. In 2007, the quartet was awarded Lincoln Center’s Martin E. Segal Award. The quartet won Chamber Music America’s Guarneri String Quartet Award, which funded a three-year residency in Suffolk County, Long Island, from 2007–10.

The Daedalus Quartet’s debut recording, music of Stravinsky, Sibelius, and Ravel, was released by Bridge Records in 2006. A Bridge recording of the Haydn’s complete “Sun” Quartets, Op. 20, was released on two CDs in July 2010. An album of chamber music by Lawrence Dillon (fall 2010) and the complete string quartets of Fred Lerdahl (fall 2011) followed, with a recording of quartets by George Perle planned for release in 2013. The award-winning members of the Daedalus Quartet hold degrees from the Juilliard School, Curtis Institute, Cleveland Institute, and Harvard University.


Horszowski Trio

When they played together for the first time, Jesse Mills, Raman Ramakrishnan, and Rieko Aizawa immediately felt the spark of a unique connection. Many years of close friendship had created a deep trust between the players, which in turn led to exhilarating expressive freedom. And so, in 2011, they formed the Horszowski (Hor-SHOV-ski) Trio. Two-time Grammy-nominated violinist Jesse Mills first performed with Raman Ramakrishnan, founding cellist of the prize-winning Daedalus Quartet, at the Kinhaven Music School more than 20 years ago, when they were children. In New York City, they met pianist Rieko Aizawa, who, upon being discovered by the late violinist and conductor Alexander Schneider, had made her U.S. concerto debuts at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Their musical bonds were strengthened at various schools and festivals around the world, including The Juilliard School and the Marlboro Festival. Aizawa was the last pupil of the legendary pianist, Mieczysław Horszowski (1892–1993), at the Curtis Institute. The Trio takes inspiration from Horszowski’s musicianship, integrity, and humanity. Like Horszowski, the Trio presents repertoire spanning the traditional and the contemporary. In addition, they seek to perform works from the trove of composers with whom Horszowski had personal contact, such as Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Martinu, Villa-Lobos, and Granados. Based in New York City, the members of the Horszowski Trio teach at Columbia University, Longy School of Music of Bard College, and The Bard College Conservatory of Music.


Kayo Iwama is associate director of The Bard College Conservatory of Music Graduate Vocal Arts Program. Iwama earned a bachelor of music degree at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a master of music degree at Stony Brook University, where she studied with Gilbert Kalish. She also attended the Salzburg Music Festival, Banff Centre, Music Academy of the West, and Tanglewood Music Center, where she worked with such artists as Margo Garrett, Martin Isepp, Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, and Erik Werba. She served previously on the music staffs of the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and has taught at the Hartt School of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, and Boston Conservatory. Iwama can be heard on the Well-Tempered label, with baritone Christòpheren Nomura in Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin, and on two ISMM discs devoted to French mélodies and the songs of Schumann with tenor Ingul Ivan Oak. She has performed extensively with singers throughout North America, Europe, and Japan, in venues including the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, Kennedy Center, Tokyo’s Yamaha Hall, Aldeburgh Festival, and Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. In addition to her work at Bard, Iwama is coordinator of the Vocal Studies Program at the Tanglewood Music Center. In Boston she was pianist and music director of the critically acclaimed Cantata Singers Chamber Series, featuring

programs devoted to rarely heard works of art song and vocal chamber music.


Pianist Blair McMillen is known for imaginative and daring programming; he plays a repertoire that ranges from late-medieval keyboard manuscripts to today’s up-and-coming younger generation of composers. Recent appearances include the Moscow Conservatory, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Concerten Tot en Met (Amsterdam), Harvard University, Casals Hall (Tokyo), and Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. Recent solo programs have included performances of selections from the Codex Faenza, a New York recital of music inspired by the art of improvisation, and the U.S. premieres of solo pieces by Frederic Rzewski and Giacinto Scelsi. Dedicated to new and groundbreaking projects, McMillen is committed to performing the music of today. He is the pianist for the Naumburg Award–winning Da Capo Chamber Players as well as the downtown New York City–based Avian Music and American Modern Ensemble. A self-taught jazz pianist, he is regularly involved in improvisation projects ranging from the straight-ahead to the avant-garde. McMillen has performed with the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society, American Symphony Orchestra, tenor Anthony Dean Griffey, soprano Lucy Shelton, clarinetist David Krakauer, Colorado String Quartet, and St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, McMillen holds degrees from Oberlin College, Manhattan School of Music, and The Juilliard School.


Steven Tenenbom, viola, is a member of the Orion String Quartet. He has worked with composer Lukas Foss and jazz artist Chick Corea and appeared as a guest artist with the Guarneri and Emerson String Quartets, the Beaux Arts and Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trios, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has performed as a soloist with the Utah Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, and Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and toured with the Brandenburg Ensemble throughout the United States and Japan. His festival credits include Mostly Mozart, Aspen, Ravinia, Marlboro, June Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, Music from Angel Fire, and Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. He is also a member of TASHI and the piano quartet Opus One. In addition to teaching at The Bard College Conservatory of Music, Tenenbom is on the faculties of New York’s Mannes College of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music. He has recorded on RCA Records with TASHI and the Guarneri String Quartet, and he can also be heard on the Arabesque, Delos, ECM, Marlboro Recording Society, and Sony Classical labels.


Joining a rare natural warmth with a fierce commitment to the transforming, communicative power of music, Dawn Upshaw, artistic director of the Vocal Arts Program, has achieved worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today. Her ability to reach to the heart of music and text has earned her both the devotion of an exceptionally diverse audience and the awards and distinctions accorded to only the most distinguished of artists. In 2007, she was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, the first vocal artist to be awarded one of its five-year “genius” fellowships, and in 2008 she was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Her acclaimed performances on the opera stage comprise the great Mozart roles (Pamina, Ilia, Susanna, Despina) as well as modern works by Stravinsky, Poulenc, and Messiaen. From Salzburg, Paris, and Glyndebourne to the Metropolitan Opera, where she began her career in 1984 and has since made nearly 300 appearances, Upshaw has also championed numerous new works created for her, including The Great Gatsby by John Harbison; the Grawemeyer Award–winning opera L’amour de loin and oratorio La Passion de Simone by Kaija Saariaho; John Adams’s Nativity oratorio El Niño; and Osvaldo Golijov’s chamber opera Ainadamar and song cycle Ayre. A four-time Grammy Award winner, Upshaw is featured on more than 50 recordings, including the million-selling Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Górecki. Her discography also includes full-length opera

recordings of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro; Messiaen’s St.-François d’Assise; Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; Adams’s El Niño; two volumes of Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne, and a dozen recital recordings. Her recent releases have included Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra, the third in a series of acclaimed recordings of Golijov’s music on Deutsche Grammophon; and a new disc of music by Donnacha Dennehy on Nonesuch Records. She is also on the faculty of Tanglewood Music Center and holds honorary doctoral degrees from Yale University, Manhattan School of Music, Illinois Wesleyan University, and Allegheny College.


Cellist Peter Wiley enjoys a prolific career as a performer and teacher. He is a member of the piano quartet, Opus One, a group he cofounded in 1998 with pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, violinist Ida Kavafian, and violist Steven Tenenbom. Wiley attended the Curtis Institute of Music as a student of David Soyer. He joined the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1974. The following year he was appointed principal cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for eight years. From 1987 through 1998, Wiley was cellist of the Beaux Arts Trio. In 2001, he succeeded Soyer as cellist of the Guarneri Quartet (the quartet retired from the concert stage in 2009). He has been awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant and nominated for Grammy Awards in 1998 (with the Beaux Arts Trio) and 2009 (with the Guarneri Quartet). Wiley participates at leading festivals including Music from Angel Fire, Chamber Music Northwest, OK Mozart, Santa Fe, Bravo! and Bridgehampton. He continues his long association with the Marlboro Music Festival, dating back to 1971. Wiley teaches at The Bard College Conservatory of Music.




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This event was last updated on 08-12-2013