. Interchanging Idioms: The Gilmore Festival Presents World Premieres by Knussen and Muhly

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Gilmore Festival Presents World Premieres by Knussen and Muhly

“Ophelia’s Last Dance,” op. 32 by Oliver Knussen to be performed by Kirill Gerstein on Monday, May 3;
“Drones & Piano” by Nico Muhly to be performed by Bruce Brubaker on Friday, May 7

The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival announced that its 2010 Festival will feature premieres of newly-commissioned piano works by two of today’s most important composers Oliver Knussen and Nico Muhly. 2010 Gilmore Artist Kirill Gerstein will give the first performance of Mr. Knussen’s “Ophelia’s Last Dance,” op. 32 on his recital at the Festival on Monday, May 3 at 8:00 pm at the Chenery Auditorium in Kalamazoo. Mr. Muhly’s work, “Drones & Piano,” will be premiered by Bruce Brubaker on Friday, May 7 at 2:00 pm at the Wellspring Theater at Epic Center in Kalamazoo .

English composer Oliver Knussen’s works have occupied a much-respected place in concert and opera programs worldwide for many years now, and the composer has also earned a reputation as a conductor, especially as an illuminating interpreter of 20th Century music. His new work is an expansion and elaboration of a musical idea from 1974 which was originally intended for the composer’s Third Symphony. Related fragments found their way into his chamber work “Ophelia Dances” (1975), but this one always suggested other possibilities to Mr. Knussen—“continuing the dance in various ways,” as he has said. The Gilmore commission came along just as Mr. Knussen began to think about expanding it. The new work was commissioned by the 2010 Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, with funds from the Russell L. Gabier Fund for Russian-American pianist Kirill Gerstein, who was announced in January as the recipient of the 2010 Gilmore Artist Award, one of the most prestigious honors in classical music today.

American composer Nico Muhly was born in Vermont in 1981, and has already achieved considerable success, having a new work performed recently by the New York Philharmonic. Mr. Muhly wrote the score for the film “The Reader,” a best picture nominee in 2008, and has been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera for a new opera to be produced during the 2013–14 season. His new work, entitled “Drones & Piano,” was written for pianist Bruce Brubaker and commissioned by the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival with support from Joan K. Sharda and the New England Conservatory of Music. Mr. Brubaker says that the piece seems somehow “familiar and yet surprisingly unlike anything heard before--as fragments of Haydn, as well as John Adams, and Janacek via Alvin Curran all appear in this new Nico cuisine.” The work utilizes electronic drones with what the composer calls “a rhapsodic, free-floating but rather angular piano solo on top.”

The 10th biennial Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo, MI presents more than three weeks of concerts, recitals, chamber music performances, lectures, master classes, films and talks. With nearly 90 piano-focused events from April 17 to May 8, the festival features performances by a number of noted international keyboard artists, jazz greats, contemporary stars and lesser-known pianists in venues throughout West Michigan .

Highlights of this year’s Festival include 2010 Gilmore Artist Kirill Gerstein’s solo recital on May 3. The Russian-born pianist is the first artist to receive both the Gilmore Award and a Gilmore Young Artist Award (2002). Mr. Gerstein will also perform Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra at the Festival Gala Saturday, May 8. Former winners of the prestigious award, Ingrid Fliter, Piotr Anderszewski and David Owen Norris, will also return to the festival to perform and lead free master classes for piano students. Upcoming concerts and events also include recitals by Louis Lortie, Yevgeny Sudbin, and 2010 Gilmore Young Artist Charlie Albright, among others; a song recital with soprano Christine Brewer and pianist Craig Terry; a theatrical work about Clara Schumann’s life and artistry with pianist Lori Sims and actress Sharon Williams; as well as jazz piano performances, masterclasses, and films.

The Gilmore is the legacy of Irving S. Gilmore, a Kalamazoo native and active patron of the arts until his death in 1986. His special devotion to keyboard music and its musicians inspired the creation in 1989 of the Festival and Gilmore Artist Awards. The prestigious Gilmore Artist Award, given every four years, recognizes the extraordinary artistry of an international pianist of any age with the most generous financial support given in the musical arts. In addition to the biennial Festival and the non-competitive artist awards, The Gilmore fosters and supports a passion for keyboard music and artistry through year-round education programs, community activities and by commissioning new music that will find a permanent place in the piano repertoire of the future.

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