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American Conservatory at Fontainebleau – 90th anniversary

On March 23, in anticipation of its 90th anniversary this summer, the American Conservatory will hold a public concert in New York.  The event will feature the American Conservatory’s director – esteemed pianist-conductor Philippe Entremont – as well as distinguished alumni of the conservatory. It was at the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, one of classical music’s most prestigious academies, that the great pedagogue Nadia Boulanger taught generations of American composers, from Aaron Copland and Virgil Thomson to Elliott Carter and Ned Rorem.
This 90th-anniversary concert, to be presented at 7:30pm on March 23 at Manhattan’s Kosciuszko Foundation (15 East 65th Street), will include the U.S. premiere of Tokyo-City by Allain Gaussin, of the American Conservatory’s composition faculty.  The work’s soloist, pianist Natalia Kazaryan, is another alumnus of the academy.  The program will also present works by Debussy, Poulenc, and Schubert, with violinist Dan Zhu among the alumni performers. 
The American Conservatory at Fontainebleau’s 90th-anniversary summer program will be held on July 3-21, 2011.  This summer’s guest composer is Richard Danielpour, who will also preside over the auditions jury.  Along with director Philippe Entremont, who teaches piano and chamber music at the academy, the faculty includes such top artists as pianist Marie-Joseph Jude and violist Bruno Pasquier.
The American Conservatory at Fontainebleau
Centered in the Palais de Fontainebleau, less than an hour southeast of Paris, the American Conservatory was founded in 1921 to introduce the best American music students to traditional French music teaching, composing, and performing.  Its faculty has included the most prestigious names: Maurice Ravel; Marcel Dupré; Robert, Gaby, and Jean Casadesus; Jean Francaix; Igor Markevitch; Nikita Magaloff; Isidore Philipp; Henri Dutilleux; Betsy Jolas; and Leonard Bernstein, to name but a few.  Starting as a young harmony professor, Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) devoted her legendary talent, energy, knowledge, and influence to the American Conservatory, which she directed from 1949 to 1979.  Composer Ned Rorem described her as “the most influential teacher since Socrates.”
The American Conservatory has played a major role in the training of such famous American musicians as Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Samuel Dushkin, Elliott Carter, Beveridge Webster, Kenton Coe, and Ned Rorem, among many more.  Internationally-renowned pianist-conductor Philippe Entremont, director of the American Conservatory since 1994, has expanded on its historic mission, recruiting students worldwide, particularly from Eastern Europe and Asia.  The summer academy offers classes in composition, theory, piano, string playing, and chamber music, along with French language courses.
The School of Fine Arts at Fontainebleau, created two years after the American Conservatory, adopted the same mission as its predecessor in the sphere of painting, architecture, and sculpture.  Its students have the opportunity to come in direct contact with the works, theories, and artists of European and particularly French culture, and to collaborate with conservatory students.  The Fine Arts program is led by architect Jean-Louis Nouvian.
Concerts and some classes take place in the Fontainebleau Palace itself.  Sixty kilometers southeast of Paris, the town of Fontainebleau is surrounded by one of the most beautiful forests in France.  The Palace, a former residence of both kings and emperor, was built on the premises of a royal mansion erected prior to the 12th century; major construction dates from the Renaissance period to the 18th and 19th centuries.  This history justifies the title given to the Palace by Napoleon Bonaparte, which is “the house of the centuries”: a fitting tribute to the site that for more than 700 years has displayed the most glowing examples of French architecture, sculpture, painting, and decorative and landscaping arts.
Date & time:  Wednesday, March 23 at 7.30pm

Venue:          Kosciuszko Foundation, 15 East 65th St (bet Madison and 5th)

Artists:           Philippe Entremont, piano, Director of the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau, and distinguished alumni of the summer program

Program:        Works by DEBUSSY, FAURE, POULENC, SCHUBERT, and ALLAIN GAUSSIN’s Tokyo City (US premiere)

Tickets:           $50 general admission; $35 Fontainebleau alumni ticket; limited seating available, please reserve by Wednesday, March 16. Available online at, by phone from Ticketmaster (800) 982 2787, or at the box office of the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), 22 East 60th Street, NYC, 646-388-6613

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