Explore Program Notes

Composer Portraits: Oscar Bettison

An immersive theater experience is exactly the kind of piece one has come to expect from Oscar Bettison, a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow whose work takes imaginative leaps in sound that frequently verge on the surreal.

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Quicksilver: Stile Moderno

Tonight’s concert is an examination of this modern music, as it was invented by virtuoso instrumental composers first in Italy and then in Germany. It is also an exploration of their new invention, the sonata: a pure instrumental work, a piece simply meant to be “sounded,” with no agenda but the imagination of the composer.  

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Bach Concertos

Simone Dinnerstein selected the pieces on Bach Concertos with an eye for creating a varied sound palette and the potential for interplay between them. “What I’m thinking about in this particular program is the many textures we’ve brought together,” she explains. “And the dramatic emotional arc created by this group of works.”

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Bach Sonatas

“Pianist Simone Dinnerstein is a gracious and thoughtful interview subject, the kind of person with whom you look forward to speaking because of the potential for meaningful dialogue and her utter lack of pretension. When I called her to talk about Bach from the Piano, the three-concert series she curated for Miller Theatre this winter, Dinnerstein was congenial…”

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Composer Portraits: Caroline Shaw

As it would happen, Caroline Shaw, the phenom vocalist, has also been playing the violin since she was two years old; her mother, a Suzuki-method instructor, was her first teacher. Shaw isn’t exactly a newcomer to composition, either, though she’d never taken a lesson until she entered the doctoral program at Princeton University in 2010. Setting notes on the page has long been an expression of her deep musicianship and idealism.

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New York Baroque Incorporated: Reflecting Lully

Reflecting the life of Jean-Baptiste Lully, the godfather of French opera, this program is shaped by the style, structure, and spectacle of his music as well as his multicultural upbringing. Pairing French opera overtures and ballet dances with virtuosic Italian sinfonias and concerti grossi, the program balances the two leading musical tastes of the time, with music by Mondonville, Telemann, and expatriates Muffat and Handel.

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Carnival of the Animals (2019)

Read about this classic Saint-Saëns work, reinvigorated through the vision of director and designer Lake Simons.

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Tallis Scholars: Sacred Interpretations

According to legend, the melodies of the traditional chants of the church were dictated to Pope Gregory I by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove—a moment depicted in countless works of art in the Middle Ages.

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Composer Portraits: Bright Sheng

Bright Sheng, who will turn 64 on December 6, has been practicing what he preaches for the better part of four decades. Presently the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Music at the University of Michigan, Sheng has been a leader in bridging the musical traditions of his native China with European art music and its American descendants, exploring Eastern themes within the context of Western classical musical forms.

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New York Polyphony: Gothic Polyphony

Rescued from the Reformation as recycled book-bindings, these Medieval gems of a lost generation show the mastery of the English style, the Contenance angloise, that would influence the next three centuries of composition.

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Composer Portraits: Annea Lockwood

Annea Lockwood’s experiments with sound often thrive on the specificity of physical objects and spaces. One might think that being so particular could breed limitations for the musicians. Yet Lockwood’s precision engenders performances rife with chance, where musicians must relinquish control to their conventional—and not-so-conventional—instruments, opening themselves to the unexpected.

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Composer Portraits: Vijay Iyer

Few jazz musicians still approaching their fifth decade are quite so celebrated, with no signs of critical interest waning. A MacArthur Fellowship and a professorship at Harvard University complete Iyer’s bona fides. But his reach has long extended beyond jazz, what he and many musicians feel is a fraught and potentially limiting category.

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