On May 5, Curtis 20/21, the contemporary music ensemble of the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music, devotes an evening to the music of Grammy Award-winning American composer Joan Tower. The concert caps Tower’s composer residency at Curtis and takes place in New York at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre as part of the venue’s “Composer Portraits” series. The wide-ranging program features works for a variety of soloists and ensembles, including string quartet, piano trio, percussion ensemble, brass quintet, and solo violin, viola, and piano. At intermission, Curtis 20/21’s artistic director, David Ludwig, will conduct an onstage interview with the composer. A video preview of the concert is available at vimeo.com.
Joan Tower (b.1938) is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today; the New York Times has judged her works “expertly wrought, full of character, and instantly communicative.” Over a career spanning more than 50 years, she has made lasting contributions to American musical life as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir string quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC. Tower was the first composer to be chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission by 65 orchestras. Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony recorded her resulting work, Made in America, on an album of her orchestral music that went on to collect three 2008 Grammy Awards, including those for Best Classical Contemporary Composition and Best Classical Album. As the Detroit News reported, “Tower has truly earned a place among the most original and forceful voices in modern American music.”