September 18, 2018

On Valentine’s Day of 2016, the untimely death of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky sent shockwaves through the contemporary music world. Now Grammy Award-winning pianist Gloria Cheng, a longtime friend of Stucky’s and champion of his music, brings together 32 of today’s foremost composers to mourn their loss and celebrate his legacy on Garlands for Steven Stucky. Due for October release by Bridge Records, the new album features Cheng’s world premiere performances of original piano miniatures written in the late composer’s honor by Gabriela Lena Frank, John Harbison, Anders Hillborg, Magnus Lindberg, Steven Mackey, Christopher Rouse, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Judith Weir, and 24 more of the many important contemporary composers he counted among his students and friends. To mark the new release, Cheng also gives live performances of Garlands for Steven Stucky in solo recitals at Brooklyn’s Bargemusic (Sep 27), Cornell University (Oct 12), Boston’s Northeastern University (Oct 14), and in the “Piano Spheres series in Los Angeles (Nov 27).

Hailed as “one of the most adventurous interpreters of contemporary music around” (Washington Post), Gloria Cheng enjoyed a long relationship with Stucky that dated back to his appointment in 1988 as Composer-in-Residence of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with which he worked closely for many years. It was she who gave the world premiere performance of his Piano Sonata, and her already extensive discography includes an account of his Album Leaves on her recording Piano Music by Salonen, Stucky, and Lutosławski, which won the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Solo Performance. She explains:

“When Steve arrived at the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1988, I had been working steadily with the orchestra as an ‘extra’ keyboard player and was involved in just about all of their new music programming. Steve was present at all rehearsals, exuding his unique combination of calm, bemused, and gracious erudition. His interests became my interests, and he was the guiding light for my CD Piano Music of Salonen, Stucky, and Lutosławski.

   “This project expands upon the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s tribute concert of April 2016, which included six short piano pieces by Steve’s friends and colleagues. As news of the piano tributes by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mandy Fang, Anders Hillborg, Magnus Lindberg, James Matheson, and Joe Phibbs began to spread, I heard from other composers wishing to offer homages to their friend. This project gives voice to them as well as documenting the original six works. I arrived at this distinguished, international list of 32 composers in consultation with Christopher Rouse, Donald Crockett, and with Steve’s widow, Kristen Stucky. The heartfelt response has been deeply gratifying. I hope my project can serve, somehow, to thank Steve for all the ways that he enriched my life and the lives of so many others.”

Cheng’s recording of Garlands for Steven Stucky concludes with the late composer’s own Two Holy Sonnets of Donne (1982), which she performs with two more of his trusted collaborators, Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell and oboist Carolyn Hove. The release comes with extensive liner notes and touching written tributes to Stucky by the featured composers. Christopher Rouse remembers him as “one of my dearest friends for over 40 years,” and Judith Weir as a “dear, generous and humane colleague,” while to Fang Man, “he was not only a mentor but also like a father to me.” Without him, Esa-Pekka Salonen recalls, “I felt I had been left alone to navigate the treacherous waters of music and life, without my navigator-in-chief.”

The composers, like Southwell and Hove, join Cheng in donating their royalties to support the Steven Stucky Composer Fellowship Fund, an endowment established by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to engage young composers in multi-year educational programs with the orchestra.

Garlands for Steven Stucky follows the release of Steven Stucky: Chamber Music by Open G Records in October 2017. Anchored by pianist Xak Bjerken, this album offers world premiere recordings of Stucky’s Violin Sonata, Piano Sonata, and Piano Quintet.

About Steven Stucky (1949-2016)

The late Steven Stucky was one of America’s most highly regarded and frequently performed contemporary composers. Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for his Second Concerto for Orchestra, he was a trustee of the American Academy in Rome, a director of New Music USA, a board member of the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, besides being active as a conductor, writer, lecturer, and teacher. Spanning more than four decades, his extensive output includes many major contributions to the literature, while, at 21 years’ duration, his relationship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic remains the longest on record between a composer and an American orchestra. He was also a leading authority on the music of Witold Lutosławski and an eminent composition teacher, whose longest affiliation was with Cornell University, where he taught for 34 years before joining the faculty at New York’s Juilliard School. He told the Aspen Times in 2013,

“I don’t think music teaches about mundane, everyday life. It teaches us what it is to be a human being. I’m trying to do the exact thing Verdi or Mendelssohn did – open up that spiritual space where we can all be fully ourselves.”

The composers of Garlands for Steven Stucky

The composers who contributed to Garlands for Steven Stucky include twelve of his students:

  • Julia Adolphe has received commissions from the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and others.
  • Louis Chiappetta is the recipient of awards from ASCAP and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
  • Fang Man’s music has been heralded as “inventive and breathtaking” (New York Times).
  • Jesse Jones’s honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize.
  • Hannah Lash serves as Professor of Composition at Yale.
  • James Matheson is a recipient of the Charles Ives Living from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
  • Eric Nathan’s music has been commissioned by such leading institutions as the Boston Symphony and New York Philharmonic.
  • Joseph Phibbs has been called “one of the most successful composers of his generation” (BBC Music).
  • Kay Rhie teaches composition and theory at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music.
  • Michael Small, winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Alan Horne Prize, has had compositions performed at the Aspen Music Festival and by the American Composers Orchestra.
  • Stephen Andrew Taylor has been commissioned by the Chicago Symphony and has had compositions performed at Carnegie Hall and Tanglewood.
  • Andrew Waggoner is “the gifted practitioner of a complex but dramatic and vividly colored style” (New Yorker), whose music has been commissioned and performed by the Academy of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and many more.

Also featured are compositions by some of Stucky’s most distinguished colleagues and friends:

  • Julian Anderson has held Composer-in-Residence positions with the Cleveland Orchestra, London Philharmonic, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
  • Charles Bodman Rae is Professor of Music and Head of Composition at the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide, Australia, and author of The Music of Lutosławski.
  • Chen Yi is a Distinguished Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City Conservatory, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • Donald Crockett serves as Composition Chair at the University of Southern California and has been commissioned by the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Hilliard Ensemble, Caramoor, and others.
  • Brett Dean holds positions as the Creative Chair of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and the inaugural Artist-in Residence of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
  • Gabriela Lena Frank was recently named as one of the 35 most significant women composers in history by the Washington Post.
  • Daniel Godfrey has earned commissions and awards in composition from the Guggenheim, Fromm, Koussevitzky, Rockefeller, Bogliasco, and Barlow foundations, among others.
  • John Harbison, whose honors include a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize, has composed music for most of America’s premiere musical institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
  • Anders Hillborg has been commissioned by orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and Los Angeles Philharmonic.
  • Pierre Jalbert, whose honors include the Rome Prize, BBC Masterprize, and Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s 2007 Stoeger Award, is Professor of Composition and Theory at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
  • William Kraft – like Stucky, a former Composer-in-Residence of the Los Angeles Philharmonic – is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he served for eleven years as Chairman of the Composition Department and Corwin Professor of Music Composition.
  • David S. Lefkowitz is Chair of Composition and Theory in the UCLA Music Department.
  • Magnus Lindberg previously served as Composer-in-Residence of the New York Philharmonic, and currently holds the same position at the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • David Liptak’s compositions have been performed by the San Francisco Symphony, Montreal Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and many others.
  • Steven Mackey blazed a trail in the 1980s by incorporating electric guitar and rock influences into his concert music, and today his works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, dance, and opera are performed by major artists around the world.
  • Colin Matthews is Composer Emeritus with the Hallé Orchestra and is completing a Koussevitzky Foundation commission for the London Sinfonietta.
  • Harold Meltzer has been awarded the Rome Prize, the Barlow Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and both the Arts and Letters Award in Music and the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
  • Christopher Rouse has been recognized with the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, Grammy for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and Pulitzer Prize.
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen is Composer-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic, Principal Conductor for London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Conductor Laureate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and co-founder of the annual Baltic Sea Festival.
  • Judith Weir serves as Master of The Queen’s Music and has been recognized with Critics’ Circle, South Bank Show, Elise L. Stoeger and Ivor Novello awards, a CBE, and the Queen’s Medal for Music.

See the full track listing below.

About Gloria Cheng

Gloria Cheng is devoted to creating collaborations that explore meaningful connections between composers. She has been a recitalist at the Ojai Festival, Chicago Humanities Festival, William Kapell Festival, and Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, and has commissioned, premiered, and been the dedicatee of countless works by an international roster of composers. She gave the premiere performances of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Dichotomie, of which she is the dedicatee, and John Adams’s Hallelujah Junction for two pianos, as well as Steven Stucky’s Piano Sonata. In duo recitals with the composers, she premiered Thomas Adès’s Concert Paraphrase on Powder Her Face and Terry Riley’s Cheng Tiger Growl Roar. Besides winning a Grammy Award for her 2008 disc, Piano Music of Salonen, Stucky, and Lutosławski, she received a Grammy nomination for her next recording, The Edge of Light: Messiaen/Saariaho. Her film, MONTAGE: Great Film Composers and the Piano (2016) – documenting Harmonia Mundi’s recording of works composed for her by Bruce Broughton, Don Davis, Alexandre Desplat, Michael Giacchino, Randy Newman, and John Williams – aired on PBS SoCal and was awarded the 2018 Los Angeles Area Emmy for Independent Programming. She has been a soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez, and, on its Green Umbrella series, under Esa-Pekka Salonen and Oliver Knussen. Cheng received her B.A. in Economics from Stanford University and earned graduate degrees in performance under Aube Tzerko and John Perry. She now teaches at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, where she continues to initiate courses and programs that unite performers, composers, and scholars. She served as 2012 Regents Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley.

 

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Garlands for Steven Stucky
Gloria Cheng, piano 

Bridge Records (Bridge 9509)
Release date: October 2018
Click here to pre-order. 

Esa-Pekka Salonen: Iscrizione
Stephen Andrew Taylor: Green Trees Are Bending
Jesse Jones: Reverie
Donald Crockett: Nella Luce
Julian Anderson: Capriccio
Andrew Waggoner: …and Maura Brought Me Cookies (Remembering Steve)
Charles Bodman Rae: Steven Stucky in Memoriam
John Harbison: Waltz (in memoriam Steve Stucky)
Fang Man: That Raindrops Have Hastened the Falling Flowers: in memory of Steven Stucky
Brett Dean: Hommage a Lutosławski
Gabriela Lena Frank: Harawi de charanguista ciego
William Kraft: Music for Gloria (in memoriam Steven Stucky)
Steven Mackey: A Few Things (in memory of Steve)
Eric Nathan: In Memoriam
Chen Yi: In Memory of Steve
Joseph Phibbs: Elegy, in memory of Steven Stucky
Hannah Lash: November
Michael Small: Debussy Window
Julia Adolphe: Snowprints
Pierre Jalbert: Inscription
James Matheson: CHAPTER I: In which our hero dies and encounters Palestrina, Brahms, Debussy, Ligeti, Lutosławski and other dead loves; looks out to see the entire universe before him, and prepares to visit all of the amazing shit therein
Christopher Rouse: Muistomerkki
Harold Meltzer: Children’s Crusade
David Lefkowitz: In Memoriam: Steven Stucky
Kay Rhie: Interlude
Colin Matthews: Some Moths for Steve
Louis Chiappetta: This Is No Less Curious
David Liptak: Epitaph
Judith Weir: Chorale, for Steve
Daniel S. Godfrey: Glas
Anders Hillborg: Just a Minute
Magnus Lindberg: Fratello
Steven Stucky: Two Holy Sonnets of Donne (with Peabody Southwell, mezzo-soprano; Carolyn Hove, oboe)

 

Gloria Cheng plays Garlands for Steven Stucky live

Sep 27
Brooklyn, NY
Bargemusic
“Here and Now” Series
Program to include Steven Stucky: “Contemplativo, tempo rubato,” from Album Leaves

Oct 12
Ithaca, NY
Cornell University

Oct 14
Boston
Northeastern University

Nov 27
Los Angeles
Colburn School
“Piano Spheres” Series
Program to include Steven Stucky: Two Holy Sonnets of Donne (with Peabody Southwell, mezzo-soprano; Carolyn Hove, oboe)

 

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© 21C Media Group, September 2018