BMOP continues the 25th anniversary season with the portrait concert of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
As the New England Conservatory’s (NEC) Affiliate Orchestra for New Music, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) presents the 21st Boston ConNECtion Concert, a portrait concert featuring the music of Malcolm Peyton Composer Artist-in- Residence Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. As part of BMOP’s extended 25th anniversary celebration season 2022-23, this one-night concert marks the orchestra’s return to its home venue, Jordan Room, after a two-year hiatus. Led by conductor Gil Rose and joined by soloists Sarah Brady (flute) and Gabriela Diaz (violin), BMOP presents four works by an icon of American symphonic composition. (This concert will be recorded and broadcast in 2023 on the BMOP/sound label.)
As NEC Composer-in-Residence, 82-year-old Ellen Taaffe Zwilich is leading master classes and workshops with the school’s composition department in early April 2022, followed by this portrait concert. “Our 21-year partnership with NEC is built on a mutual commitment to providing a platform for NEC students, faculty and alumni to stage and perform new music,” said Gil Rose, Artistic Director and Chief Executive Officer. orchestra of BMOP. “We are thrilled to join forces again with the conservatory’s prestigious composition department and look forward to sharing Zwilich’s accessible music.”
Zwilich is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, and has achieved a number of firsts in her life: in 1975, the first woman to earn a doctorate in composition from Juilliard (with honorary doctorates including those from Oberlin College and the Michigan State University); in 1983, the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Music; and in 1995, the first composer-in-residence at Carnegie Hall. A prolific composer in virtually every medium, Zwilich’s works have been performed by most major American orchestras and by major ensembles abroad. Critics rave that she is “a musical spirit of originality, skill and versatility (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) and that her music is ‘distinctive not only for her superb craftsmanship, but also for her wit, lyricism and sheer beauty, which makes her immediately appealing to listeners (Cincinnati.com).”
The program opens with the fitting Upbeat (1999), a work derived from the famous upbeat of JS Bach’s Partita No. 3, and the title also refers to the lively and cheerful “upbeat” character of the music. Zwilich’s Concerto Elegia (2015) for flute and strings and Commedia dell’Arte (2012) for violin and string orchestra feature longtime members of the BMOP orchestra as soloists: flautist Sarah Brady and violinist Gabriela Diaz. The closer concert Symphony No. 5 “Concerto for Orchestra” (2008) was commissioned by the Juilliard School where Zwilich not only received her doctorate, but also found her voice as a composer. Consisting of four contrasting movements, Symphony No. 5, according to the composer, “treats the whole as a huge chamber ensemble, in which each performer or section can be a brilliant soloist at one moment and a sensitive partner the next”.
About Ellen Taaffe Zwilich
At a time when the world’s musical offering is more diverse than ever, few composers have emerged with the unique personality of Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. His music is widely known as it is performed, recorded, broadcast and above all listened to and enjoyed by all kinds of audiences all over the world. Biographical Dictionary of Baker Musicians [8th edition] states: “There are not many composers in the modern world who possess the happy combination of writing background music and at the same time exerting an immediate appeal to a mixed audience. Zwilich offers this happy combination of purely technical excellence and distinct communicative power.”
His works include five symphonies and a series of concertos commissioned and performed over the past two decades by the country’s top orchestras. Zwilich is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Music (the first woman to receive this coveted award), the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Chamber Music Prize, the Arturo Toscanini Music Critics Award, the Ernst von Dohnányi Citation, an Oscar from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, four Grammy Award nominations, the Alfred I. Dupont Award, the Miami Performing Arts Center Award, the Medaglia d’oro at the GB Viotti Competition and the NPR and WNYC Gotham Award for Contribution to New York City Musical Life. Among other honors, Ms. Zwilich has been elected to the American Classical Music Hall of Fame, the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1995, she was appointed to the first composer’s chair in the history of Carnegie Hall, and she was named Composer of the Year by Musical America in 1999. Ms. Zwilich, who holds a Ph.D. from the Juilliard School, is currently the Krafft Professor Emeritus at Florida State University. For more information, visit www.zwilich.com.
About the New England Conservatory (NEC)
Founded by Eben Tourjée in Boston, Massachusetts in 1867, the New England Conservatory (NEC) represents a new model of music school that combines the best of European tradition with American innovation. The school is central to Boston’s rich cultural history and musical life, presenting concerts at the famous Jordan Room. As an independent, nonprofit institution that educates and trains musicians of Powered by deep artistry, bold creativity, and deep compassion, NEC seeks to amplify the impact of musicians in advancing our common humanity and enable students to encounter today’s changing world. sure, equipped with the tools and confidence to forge multi-dimensional lives of artistic depth and relevance.
As an independent, non-profit institution that educates and trains musicians of all ages from around the world, NEC is internationally recognized as a leader among music schools. It cultivates a diverse and vibrant community, providing music students from more than 40 countries with performance opportunities and high-calibre training from 225 internationally renowned artist-teachers and scholars. NEC pushes the boundaries of music making and teaching through college-level training in classical, jazz, and contemporary improvisation. Through unique interdisciplinary programs such as Entrepreneurial Musicianship and Community Performances & Partnerships, it empowers students to create their own musical opportunities. As part of NEC’s mission to make lifelong music education accessible to all, the Preparatory School and Continuing Education School provide training and performance opportunities for children, pre-school students -academics and adults.
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) is the first orchestra in the United States dedicated exclusively to the commissioning, performance and recording of 20th and 21st century music. A unique institution of crucial artistic importance to today’s musical world, BMOP exists to disseminate the outstanding orchestral music of the present and recent past through performances and recordings of the highest caliber. Founded by artistic director Gil Rose in 1996, BMOP has championed composers whose careers span nine decades.
Each season, Rose brings the award-winning BMOP orchestra, renowned soloists and influential composers to the stage of the historic New England Conservatory Jordan Room in a series that offers orchestral programming of unparalleled eclecticism. Musical America’s 2016 Ensemble of the Year, BMOP received Gramophone Magazine’s 2021 Special Achievement Award as “an organization that has championed 20th and 21st century American music with passion and panache.” The musicians of BMOP are consistently praised for the energy, imagination and passion with which they infuse the music of today’s times. For more information, please visit BMOP.org.