Thursday, April 16, 2009

What do you do when you're in Rome?

If you're composer Lisa Bielawa, you'll be writing a new composition, whatever other Romans may be doing.

In 1884, Claude Debussy won the Prix de Rome, one of the most important and influential honors to be granted to young French artists. Before him, Hector Berlioz won the prize in 1830, where he put the finishing touches on a little something called his Symphonie fantastique.

Rome was always a destination for creative artists, whether it was painters, writers or musicians. In fact, in 1905, the United States got into the act, establishing our own version of The Rome Prize at the American Academy of Rome.

And it was announced today that Lisa Bielawa has received this year’s Rome Prize in Musical Composition. And she will be writing a new piece that has been commissioned by – drum roll, please – Market Square Concerts of Harrisburg PA which will be premiered at the February concert of the 2009-2010 season.

Here’s the official press release which you can also read here, and also find out about three premieres she has coming up in the next few weeks along with a new CD coming out in May!

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April 16, 2009—New York, NY—The American Academy in Rome announced today that Lisa Bielawa is a recipient of the 2009 Rome Prize in Musical Composition. Established in 1894 and chartered by an Act of Congress in 1905, the American Academy in Rome is a center that sustains independent artistic pursuits and humanistic studies. Annual Rome Prize fellowship winners are selected through a national competition, and travel to Rome to refine and expand their own professional, artistic, or scholarly aptitudes. The Academy's Rome Prize winners are at the center of a multi-disciplinary environment, where artists and scholars are encouraged to work collegially within and across disciplines.

This September, Ms. Bielawa will join 14 other artists (working in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Design, Historic Preservation and Conservation, Literature, Musical Composition, or Visual Arts) as well as 15 scholars (working in Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and early Modern, or Modern Italian Studies) for a year-long fellowship at the Academy, located on the Janiculum, Rome's highest hill. While there Ms. Bielawa will compose an extended work for the Brooklyn Rider string quartet and herself as vocalist. The piece, which has been commissioned by Market Square Concerts in Harrisburg, PA, will be modular, performable at different lengths and in different venues and contexts, with or without vocal sections.

Composer-vocalist Lisa Bielawa was born in San Francisco into a musical family. She played the violin and piano, sang, and wrote music from early childhood. Ms. Bielawa moved to New York two weeks after receiving her B.A. in Literature in 1990 from Yale University, and became an active participant in New York musical life. She began touring with the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1992, and in 1997 co-founded the MATA Festival, which celebrates the work of young composers. Ms. Bielawa takes inspiration for her work from literary sources and close artistic collaborations. The New York Times describes her music as, "ruminative, pointillistic and harmonically slightly tart," and Time Out New York praised her "prodigious gift for mingling persuasive melodicism with organic experimentation."
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Join us in February 20th, 2010, for another world premiere with Market Square Concerts and hear Lisa Bielawa’s brand new (and as yet unwritten) work which she and the Brooklyn Rider will perform at Market Square Church along with Philip Glass’s 5th String Quartet, Schubert’s “Death & the Maiden” Quartet as well as works by members of the Silk Road Ensemble.

I'll be telling you more about this concert and the up-coming season in future posts - not to forget SummerMusic 2009 this July as chamber music returns to the Mill - so just because the season is "ended" with the Guarneri Quartet doesn't mean there's nothing going on here till the Fall...

- Dr. Dick

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