Four emerging composers have been chosen from a national candidate pool to participate in the 2015 Columbus Symphony EarShot program: Rosalie Burrell, Saad Haddad, Patrick O’Malley, and Iván Rodríguez. For this latest iteration of EarShot, a nationwide network of new music readings and composer-development programs organized and administered by the American Composers Orchestra (ACO), two intensive reading sessions/rehearsals (closed to the public) will take place on October 27 and 28, 2015 accompanied by feedback sessions with Columbus Symphony musicians and their music director Rossen Milanov, along with mentor composers Robert Beaser, Margaret Brouwer, and Clint Needham. Donald Harris will serve as honorary guest composer. On October 29, the orchestra will hold a final dress rehearsal, then perform the works in a one-hour program at the Ohio Theatre which is part of the Columbus Symphony’s Happy Hour Concert Series. The CSO will ask the audience to vote for their favorite piece before the program’s mentor composers and Maestro Milanov select an official “Live Composer Competition” winner. Now in its third year, Happy Hour concerts offer free, informal, after-work concerts performed by the Columbus Symphony, preceded by complimentary appetizers, a DJ in the theater lobby, and a cash bar.
ACO President Michael Geller said, “The four composers chosen for this unique new program are as talented as they are diverse in their musical styles. Rosie, Saad, Ivan, and Patrick are only in their 20s, but they are incredibly accomplished at what is a very ‘tender’ young age for composers. Each of them has a really distinctive musical outlook. We can’t wait to work with them and the talented musicians at the Columbus Symphony. And I think for listeners in Columbus, who come out for the culminating concert of the program, they will be ‘blown away’ by the brilliance, energy, and vitality of the music they hear. Years from now, I’m sure we will all look back at the EarShot Columbus Composer Competition as a watershed moment for these composers, for CSO audiences, and for the entire field of American orchestra music.”
Rossen Milanov added, “I am delighted by the partnership of Columbus Symphony Orchestra and EarShot in the first season of my tenure as music director in Columbus, Ohio. My strong commitment to music of our time and career-long support for young composers could not have been expressed better then in this original and meaningful introduction of newly composed works to our audience. I hope that the composers, the musicians, and the audience will develop a better understanding and appreciation of the creative, performing, and listening process.”
In addition to the Columbus Symphony, EarShot partnerships have included the New York Philharmonic, Berkeley Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Pioneer Valley Symphony (MA), New York Youth Symphony, and the San Diego Symphony. To date, more than fifty composers have been selected for readings with orchestras.
Read on for more details about the four composers and their new orchestral works. (The Columbus Symphony’s performances of each of them have been archived on the website Instant Encore where they are available for streaming.)
The music of Rosalie Burrell (b. 1988) has been performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Lesher Center for the Arts, the All Women’s National Brass Convention, and Bush Creek Arts. For the last two concert seasons she has been the artistic coordinator, composer and orchestrator at The Little Orchestra Society, a chamber orchestra that, under the baton of James Judd, performs for young families and children. As an artistic administrator, Burrell plans, programs, and produces concerts and workshops at venues that have included maximum-security prisons, hospital wards, veteran rehabilitation facilities, and schools. She received her Master of Music degree from the Mannes School of Music, where she studied with David Tcimpidis, writing primarily chamber music. In 2013 she was a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers competition, and she won both the Martinu Composition Award and the 2013 Mannes Orchestra Composition Competition. Other accolades include the 2012 Jean Schneider Goberman Award second prize for her piano quartet Secret Gardens.
Of Paved with Gold, Burrell said, “I was taking long walks through New York City; grime and glitter, glass and iron, duality at every turn. I drew a landscape of New York, not as it exists in any physical sense, but in a sweeping, sensory summary. Lines and rectangles colliding, each a duplicate of the last. Between angular clusters I drew the curved shapes of birds, untethered in the air, sometimes spilling out between blocks, or soaring right over the building clusters. I put a pin in that drawing, right above my desk, and began to compose the shape of that abstract skyline. An orchestral landscape, loud and unbridled, paved with gold.”
Saad Haddad (b. 1992) focuses on creating compositions that incorporate Arabic musical tradition in a Western context, both in acoustic and electro-acoustic mediums. In addition to the performance by the Columbus Symphony, premieres of his music will also be performed this season by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and the New Juilliard Ensemble at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Other performances include the Virginia premiere of Shifting Sands, for piano and electronics, at the Electroacoustic Barn Dance and the Ariose Singers’ performances of his choral works, The Little Boy and Ah Sunflower, as part of the New Music Works series in Santa Cruz, California. A recipient of the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award (2015), the Gena Raps Chamber Music Prize (2015), the BMI Student Composer Award (2014), and the Copland House Residency Award (2014), Haddad holds a Bachelor of Music Composition from the University of Southern California where his teachers included composers Donald Crockett, Stephen Hartke, Frank Ticheli, Brian Shepard, and Bruce Broughton. He is currently in his last year at the Juilliard School, pursuing a Master of Music Composition with John Corigliano.
Kaman Fantasy takes its name from ‘kamanjah,’ the Arabic word for ‘violin.’ The piece is an exploration of the Arabic ‘maqamat’ (sets of scales) and rhythms in a Western classical context. The music embraces both traditions, often swaying back and forth between Arabic and Western idioms. Haddad said, “As a first-generation Arab-American, I have often found myself shifting between both cultures in the way that I think and act, sometimes voluntarily, most times not. Kaman Fantasy is a reflection on those experiences.”
Patrick O’Malley (b. 1989) is a composer whose works explore the musical interplay between emotion, color, energy, and landscape. Currently living in Los Angeles, O’Malley grew up in Indiana, where he cultivated an interest in composition from hearing music at the local orchestra, studying piano and double bass, film scores at the movie theater, and even MIDI compositions for video games being written at the time. His works span many of the contemporary mediums for classical music (orchestra, chamber ensembles, vocal music, film scores, etc.), and have been performed across the United States as well as in France and Germany. Most recently, O’Malley has been recognized and/or performed by organizations including the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Next On Grand National Composers Intensive with wild Up, the Society of Composers Inc., The American Prize (3rd place in orchestral music, and finalist in wind band and chamber music, 2014), the Boston New Music Initiative, ASCAP’s Morton Gould Award (finalist in 2012 and 2014), and Fulcrum Point New Music Project. He has spent summers as a student at various music festivals, including Aspen, Bowdoin, Fresh Inc., and the FUBiScomposition course in Berlin. He is gratefully indebted to his private teachers over the years for helping guide his work, the most recent of which include Andrew Norman, Samuel Adler, and Frank Ticheli. O’Malley is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in composition at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music.
Of Even in Paradise, O’Malley said, “The Latin phrase ‘Et in Arcadia Ego’ is a wonderful little line that nobody seems to know the actual meaning of. The words essentially translate, ‘I am also in Arcadia,’ and are most famously known as the subject of two paintings by Nicolas Poussin from the 17th century. I first encountered the subject when reading an essay by the art historian Erwin Panofsky, in which he traces the evolution of interpretation of the phrase by artists. Panofsky’s analysis, as well as the various artistic interpretations of the phrase, immediately struck me as a source for musical elaboration. While nothing in the piece is a literal depiction, there are two ideas that stem directly from the life and death images associated with the subject. The piece opens with atmospheric sounds made by the strings playing unpitched material behind the bridge (a well-known technique for representing death in music thanks to Bernard Herrmann, though I do not use it in the same way). Against that, simple triadic gestures (the ‘life-blood’ of tonal harmony) begin to pop out of the murk. Eventually, the music breaks into a fast, playful mood completely opposite to the introduction, exploring a variety of moods and colors.”
Aspiring young conductor and composer Iván Enrique Rodríguez (b.1990) learned how to play the saxophone, harp, piano, and violin, as well as vocalize at the Escuela Libre de Música (ELM) Antonio O. Paoli in his native Caguas, Puerto Rico. Rodríguez’s first piece, Ogoshness for chorus and string orchestra, was premiered in 2007 by the ELM Antonio O. Paoli choir when Rodríguez was 17. Since then, Rodríguez has composed for internationally acclaimed trumpeter Luis “Perico” Ortiz, and John Rivera Pico selected two of Iván’s Crípticos for inclusion on his album featuring contemporary classical guitar music from Puerto Rico and Cuba. Rodríguez’s music has been performed in Uruguay, Brazil, the U.S., and Italy where the San Juan Children’s Choir performed his Madre Luna and won the 2014 Rimini International Choral Competition First Place Prize with the judges noting the integral part his composition played in their decision. He holds a BA in Composition from the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico where he studied with composer Alfonso Fuentes and conductors Rafael E. Irizarry, William Rivera, Roselín Pabon, and Genesio Riboldi. Beyond the walls of the conservatory, his cultural involvement and leadership was recognized by the Puerto Rico Chapter of Junior Chamber International with the 2014 Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World award.
“Luminis is a set of fantasy variations on original musical motifs,” said Rodríguez. “Throughout piece, the original motifs remain relatively unchanged. However, the surrounding musical environment changes constantly. As the variations develop, they progressively describe the encirclement of light by darkness. Even when describing musically what could be total darkness, the original motifs remain relatively untouched. This is intended to give Light a ubiquitous quality to state that regardless of the conditions surrounding it, the energy emanating from this point–whatever it may symbolize for us individually–reinforces an inextinguishable radiance and omnipresence.”
(—from the press release)