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Kravis Emerging Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir Receives Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists

Last evening at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, New York Philharmonic Kravis Emerging Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir (third from right, radiant pink tights) received a Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists, which recognizes extraordinary talent around the campus. She also received a Martin E. Segal Award, an endowed award.

On April 4–6 the Orchestra will give the World Premiere of Metacosmos, Thorvaldsdottir’s Philharmonic commission, conducted by The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence Esa-Pekka Salonen.

Another winner was pianist / composer Conrad Tao (fifth from left, cool embroidered jacket), who is writing a piece commissioned by the Philharmonic to be premiered in September, and who will also curate the Nightcap after the September 28 concert.

Past winners include Philharmonic Concertmaster Frank Huang (2017) and composer Julia Adolphe (2016), whose music the Philharmonic has performed.


(Photo: Richard Termine)

Kravis Emerging Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Philharmonic Commission, Metacosmos, Set for April World Premiere

The new year is kicking off busily for New York Philharmonic Kravis Emerging Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir. Fresh on the heels of having a piece on one of NPR Music’s Top 10 Classical Albums of 2017, her will be performed by Philharmonic musicians at Monday’s CONTACT! concert at National Sawdust, alongside works by Sarah Kirkland Snider, Ashley Fure, Du Yun, and Fernanda Aoki Navarro.

After this amuse-bouche, don’t miss the main course on April 4–6: the World Premiere of Metacosmos, Thorvaldsdottir’s Philharmonic orchestral commission, conducted by Composer-in-Residence Esa-Pekka Salonen.

The composer writes:

Metacosmos is constructed around the natural balance between beauty and chaos — how elements can come together in (seemingly) utter chaos to create a unified, structured whole. The idea and inspiration behind the piece is the speculative metaphor of falling into a black hole – the unknown – with endless constellations and layers of opposing forces connecting and communicating with each other, expanding and contracting, projecting a struggle for power as the different sources pull on you and you realize that you are being drawn into a force that is beyond your control.” 


Sørensen’s Evening Land Receives ‘Stirring Premiere at the Philharmonic,’ N.Y. Times Says

“It was excellent timing on someone’s part: the New York Philharmonic’s, the University of Louisville’s, or both.”

So begins the rave review, by James R. Oestreich, of last night’s concert in The New York Times.

He was referring to the World Premiere of Bent Sørensen’s Evening Land happening the same week that Sørensen received the University’s Grawemeyer Prize for Music Composition, one of the most important in the field.

The piece, which was commissioned by the Philharmonic through the generous support of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music, is inspired by, in Sørensen’s words, “a very special evening light over the fields” from his childhood in Denmark, and “the new vision of flashes of light and bustling activity” that he saw in New York many years later.

Oestreich wrote: 

The concertmaster — here, Sheryl Staples (in the absence of Frank Huang) — emerges from silence almost imperceptibly and in all innocence with a fetching little tune. The principal violist, Cynthia Phelps, eventually joins her, and they whisper across the podium until the other strings join in and overwhelm them.
The ending, after the fray, is truly touching. The principal oboist, Liang Wang, plays the work’s longest strain, Mr. Sorensen’s tribute to his father-in-law, an oboist who died in May before he could hear the work. Mr. Wang lingers on a high note, handing it off to Ms. Staples, who leads the strings on tiptoes back to silence.

The concert, conducted by Edo de Waart, also featured Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 with Emanuel Ax (who “offered his usual elegant, understated virtuosity,” Oestreich said) and Brahms’s Symphony No. 2. It will be repeated tonight and Saturday night.

(Photo: Chris Lee)

Bent Sørensen, Whose Philharmonic Commission Receives World Premiere This Week, Wins Grawemeyer

Bent Sørensen has won the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, and this week New York audiences can discover why.

On November 30–December 2 the New York Philharmonic gives the World Premiere of his Evening Land, a work commissioned by the Orchestra through the generous support of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music.

The Graweveyer Award — which is also awarded in political science, psychology, education, and religion — is given annually “to help make the world a better place. … Music has the ability to inspire, to bring joy to those who hear it and those who create it. It can convey great emotion in just a few powerful notes. There is, perhaps, no greater expression of the human spirit. For this reason, the Grawemeyer Award in Music Composition honors those who bring beauty and inspiration into the world.” The work so honored is L’Isola della Citta, Sørensen’s 2015 concerto for violin, cello, and piano. 

Of Evening Land the Danish composer said:

“A picture, a vision: I am six or seven years old. I am standing in my childhood home in a small town on the island of Zealand in Denmark. I am looking out of the window, and there is a very special evening light over the fields. … It is as if the world is infinite. … The vision returned many years later, as I was looking out over New York from a high balcony. The vision from more than 50 years ago — the vision of quiet — was mixed with the new vision of flashes of light and bustling activity. Those two visions led me to the title Evening Land and the music came out of that title.”

Congratulations, and we look forward to the concerts!

(Photo: Lars Skaaning)

Louis Andriessen Receives Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic

The audience at last night’s concert witnessed an exciting announcement from the stage: Louis Andriessen has been awarded The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music at the New York Philharmonic, one of the world's largest new-music prizes, which recognizes a composer for extraordinary artistic endeavor in the field of new music. President Matthew VanBesien presented the award (see above). He is the third recipient, after Henri Dutilleux and Per Nørgård.

The Dutch composer and influential teacher — whose influences and subjects span visual art, medieval poetic visions, shipbuilding, atomic theory, mortality, music and politics, and time and velocity — receives $200,000 plus a commission to write a work for the Philharmonic, which the Orchestra will premiere in the 2018–19 season, led by Jaap van Zweden, who will then be in his first season as Philharmonic Music Director.

“It is an immense honor to receive The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music, and I send my deep and solemn feelings of gratitude,” Mr. Andriessen said. “My father, the composer Hendrik Andriessen, used to say: ‘We are not important; the music is important, and we have the duty to write as well as we can.’ It is in this spirit that I will write for the New York Philharmonic.”



(Photo: Chris Lee)

Hear Kravis Emerging Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottír's In the Light of Air at NPR Music

Anna Thorvaldsdottir NPR Music New York Philharmonic

Wanna hear something cool? It's "the aural soul of Iceland," in the words of NPR Music's Tom Huizenga.

NPR Music is streaming In the Light of Air by Anna Thorvaldsdottír, the New York Philharmonic's Kravis Emerging Composer, as part of its First Listen series. It's from an eponymous recording, to be released August 28, and is performed by International Contemporary Ensemble.

"This rumbling, evocative music ... seems grounded deep in the beautifully austere landscapes of her native Iceland," Huizenga writes. "This album is a good way to hear the magic of a faraway place and get a sense of a fascinating young composer on the rise."

Thorvaldsdottír is also featured in this Sunday's New York Times (but it's online now), which calls In the Light of Air "breathtaking." Q2 Music has named In the Light of Air its Album of the Week, and you can watch it performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble here.

Just Announced: Anna Thorvaldsdottir Named Kravis Emerging Composer

Anna Thorvaldsdottir New York Philharmonic

You don’t have to spell it, but remember this name: Anna Thorvaldsdottir. She is “one of the most unique and expressive voices in the compositional scene today,” said Music Director Alan Gilbert, and she was just named the New York Philharmonic Kravis Emerging Composer.

The Philharmonic made this exciting announcement at tonight’s final CONTACT! concert of the 2014–15 season. The award recognizes an up-and-coming composer as part of The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music.

The Icelandic composer will receive a $50,000 stipend, including a commission to compose a work for the Philharmonic to premiere in a future season. She succeeds Sean Shepherd, who was named the inaugural Kravis Emerging Composer in June 2012.

In 2012 Ms. Thorvaldsdottir won the Nordic Council Music Prize for her orchestral work Dreaming, one of the pieces on her album Rhízōma. Check it out here.

A Great Dane: Per Nørgård Awarded The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music

Kravis Prize Per Norgard Alan Gilbert NY Philharmonic

At last night's concert, Music Director Alan Gilbert took the stage to make an exciting announcement: Danish composer Per Nørgård has been awarded The Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music, one of the world's largest new-music prizes, which recognizes a composer for extraordinary artistic endeavor in the field of new music.

The prolific composer of 400+ works — including 8 symphonies, 11 concertos, 6 operas, 2 ballets, and 4 film scores including Babette's Feast — and inventor of the Infinity Series receives $200,000 plus a commission to write a work for the Philharmonic. Also announced: the Orchestra will give the U.S. Premiere of Nørgård's Third Symphony during the 2016 NY PHIL BIENNIAL. As previously scheduled: Alan Gilbert will lead Philharmonic musicians in Nørgård's music March 7, 2015, as part of next season's CONTACT!, the new-music series, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Check out The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal's coverage of the announcement, and hear his music from the Vienna Philharmonic's new Dapaco recording of his First and Eighth Symphonies.

We leave you with this thought from Karl Aage Rasmussen:

"The world according to Nørgård is not just a confusing host of random events; it is an enchanted place, full of things to discover when your mind and your senses are wide open — the endless connections and relations in nature, the infinite universe represented by any sound, no matter how modest. A composer must have an ear for the wonders of the audible world, and must be able to sense miracles where others hear only the buzz of everyday life. On a South Indian beach, listening to the surf from the enormous waves, Per Nørgård suddenly became aware of an extremely deep sound from the seas, a kind of 'shadow tone,' unchanging by day or night. And he asked himself: might this be the basic sound, the very fundamental of the ocean?"

(Photo by Chris Lee: Music Director Alan Gilbert (right) with Per Nørgård)

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