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Curtis 20/21 celebrates Joan Tower on May 5 at NYC’s Miller Theatre

On May 5, Curtis 20/21, the contemporary music ensemble of the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music, devotes an evening to the music of Grammy Award-winning American composer Joan Tower. The concert caps Tower’s composer residency at Curtis and takes place in New York at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre as part of the venue’s “Composer Portraits” series. The wide-ranging program features works for a variety of soloists and ensembles, including string quartet, piano trio, percussion ensemble, brass quintet, and solo violin, viola, and piano. At intermission, Curtis 20/21’s artistic director, David Ludwig, will conduct an onstage interview with the composer.  A video preview of the concert is available at
Joan Tower (b.1938) is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today; the New York Times has judged her works “expertly wrought, full of character, and instantly communicative.”  Over a career spanning more than 50 years, she has made lasting contributions to American musical life as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir string quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC. Tower was the first composer to be chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission by 65 orchestras. Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony recorded her resulting work, Made in America, on an album of her orchestral music that went on to collect three 2008 Grammy Awards, including those for Best Classical Contemporary Composition and Best Classical Album. As the Detroit News reported, “Tower has truly earned a place among the most original and forceful voices in modern American music.”
Dedicated to the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, Curtis 20/21 frequently collaborates with guest artists and composers, including eighth blackbird, Lucy Shelton, Charles Dutoit, Peter Serkin, Fred Sherry, and Matthias Pintscher, as well as Curtis faculty and alumni.  The ensemble’s recent offerings include centenary programs for Samuel Barber, Olivier Messiaen, and Elliott Carter. This season’s other guest composer-in-residence was John Corigliano.
Flexible in size and scope, Curtis 20/21 on this occasion will present artists ranging from the U.S. and Canada to New Zealand and the Far East, and varying in age from 16-year-old Californian pianist Andrew Hsu (Ivory and Ebony and Trio Cavany) to Curtis faculty member and principal timpanist of the Philadelphia Orchestra Don Liuzzi (DNA).
Curtis 20/21 embodies the remarkable traditions of Philadelphia’s distinguished Curtis Institute of Music, where a program of individually tailored study with a faculty of leading musicians has nurtured a long line of noteworthy performers, from such legends as Samuel Barber and Leonard Bernstein to current stars Juan Diego Flórez, Alan Gilbert, Hilary Hahn, Jennifer Higdon, Leila Josefowicz, and Lang Lang. One of the world’s leading music schools, Curtis has been described by the New York Times as “arguably the country’s most elite conservatory.”  It provides full-tuition scholarships to all of its students, ensuring that admissions are based solely on artistic promise. Students at this intimate conservatory “learn by doing,” performing frequently and often collaborating side by side with their teachers. Founded in 1924, Curtis remains forward-thinking, evolving strategically to nurture the 21st-century skills that allow students to invent their careers in today’s changing musical world. Further information is available at
Thursday, May 5 at 8 pm
Miller Theatre, Columbia University, New York City
Curtis 20/21
Composer Portraits: Joan Tower
   (Kai Cataldo and George Goad, trumpets; Katherine Jordan, horn; Brian Santero, trombone; Nathan Lodge, bass
String Force
   (Nikki Chooi, violin)
Ivory and Ebony
   (Andrew Hsu, piano)
Angels (String Quartet No. 4)
   (Jeoung-Yin Kim and Rebecca Anderson, violins; Marina Thibeault, viola; Jeong-Hyoun Lee, cello)
Trio Cavany
   (Rebecca Anderson, violin; Andrew Hsu, piano; Natalie Helm, cello)
Simply Purple
Wild Purple
   (Amanda Verner, viola)
(Percussionists: Ted Babcock, Yi Fei Fu, Michael Sparhuber, Mari Yoshinaga, and faculty member Don Liuzzi)
Tickets: $25, available through the Miller Theatre at (212) 854-7799 or

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