Putting a face to what you hear

This summer is shaping up to be one full of visits from the composers of programmed pieces. This is significant because we live in a time where this doesn’t actually happen very often. Most people don’t realize how much of a treat it is to actually put a face behind the music they hear, for often it is a work that is deeply personal, and to experience the personality of the composer brings us a greater understanding and emotional resonance to their music. We spend so much time speculating on the lives and characteristics of Schumann or Brahms in order to understand their music, but how much more are they than guesses? And how much of our opinions on these personalities were formed by some heavily editorialized article or essay we read in music school, penned by a highly subjective but hallowed scholar? Often these scholars have their own biases and perspectives that very much can alter how they think of and depict a composer.

Which is why I believe we’re so fortunate to have so many visits from living composers coming to Garth Newel in the coming weeks. Just this last weekend we had Mark Carlson here, who gave a preconcert lecture on how the process of creating his piano quartet was a way for him to work through his own personal grief. He also worked with us before our performance of his piece, which not only brought us more clarity, but a greater emotional connection that made the performance feel more powerful and moving. On the same concert, we had a young composer, Ben Osterhouse (also one of our fine emerging artist fellows), playing with us the piano quartet he wrote for our competition competition.

Next weekend, we will be performing with the Le Boeuf brothers on their own jazz compositions (for more info and to make reservations – Come Together and Junction). Two more composers will visit on the Piano Weekend after.

David Biedenbender, whom we received the Chamber Music America commissioning grant for to write us a new piano quartet, will be coming to do a preconcert talk as well as attend the Garth Newel premiere of his work Resonance Modes for solo piano and live electronics (which I had commissioned as part of my doctorate thesis). His visit also serves as research for the piano quartet he is writing for us, as it is a work based on the 4 seasons of Garth Newel. Biedenbender’s work is beautiful, powerful, and exciting, and we’re truly excited for you all to get to know him! (for more info and the make reservations: Memory Palace, Lisztmania)

In addition to Dave, we have Matthew Browne coming for the world premiere of the work Lisztmania that he wrote for me, a flashy rockstar piece that encapsulates the fireworks one craves from pianistic virtuosity. Full of creativity, Browne takes elements of Bach and Liszt and combines them a fun, riotous romp, and he will speak about his piece before its performance on Sunday. Both of these composers are dear friends and wonderful and fascinating people, and to have them here with performances of their music brings a whole new level of relatability to their compositions.

Don’t miss out on our summer of composers! There’s so much great music being written right now that is communicative and beautiful, and we’re so thrilled to give you all the chance to meet the people behind the music that I know you’ll love!


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