Thursday, July 2, 2009

Philip Glass's Violin Sonata in the News

In Harrisburg last February, a birthday present was unveiled in public for the first time.

To most in the audience – many of whom came from Philadelphia and New York for the concert – it was a chance to hear Maria Bachmann and Jon Klibonoff play the world premiere of a violin sonata by a well-known and world-class composer, Philip Glass.

To Martin Murray, it was part of the long process of bringing an idea to life, commissioning a very busy composer to write something as a birthday present for his wife, Lucy Miller Murray, the founding director of Harrisburg’s Market Square Concerts.

Here are violinist Maria Bachmann and pianist Jon Klibonoff playing the 2nd Movement of the Violin Sonata by Philip Glass, recorded in WITF's studio and posted (where else) on YouTube:
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Tonight, they will perform Glass’s Violin Sonata at the Telluride Music Festival in Colorado which prompted this article in today’s Wall Street Journal. You can read Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim’s “Even Bach Needed Goldberg” here for an entertaining account of how this work came about.

Other works mentioned in the article and commissioned by individual patrons (like Mr. Goldberg centuries ago) include Christopher Theofanidis’ piano piece “All Dreams Begin with the Horizon.” Harrisburg heard Tanya Bannister, who gave it its premiere at a private birthday party in February 2007, play it at her Market Square Concerts recital less than a year later. A gift for an amateur pianist, Stephen Schwartz, it was “a little something” commissioned for the occasion by his partner, Miles Kahler. Ms. Bannister has since recorded the work for the Albany label.

Quoting from Ms. da Fonseca-Wollheim's article,

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"To bring a new piece into the world is a great privilege," says Mr. Glass, noting that if it had not been for Mr. and Mrs. Murray, he would never have written this violin sonata. "You live your life on the edge of the unknown. Some people don't want to go there. This couple, they've wandered into this world."
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When you think about it, giving the gift of music really is a gift that keeps on giving.

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You can read my previous posts about Philip Glass’s Violin Sonata here and here.

Join us in February 2010 for another world premiere in Harrisburg when Brooklyn Rider performs a new work by Lisa Bielawa, commissioned by Market Square Concerts, a work she’ll be writing this fall while living in Rome as part of her winning this year’s Rome Prize. (And you can read more about that in a previous post, here.)

Summer Music 2009 is coming up in a few weeks – there’s a preview of it and the new 2009-2010 season in this post.

Dr. Dick

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