Press Room

Michael Hersch announces 2009-10 season

Composer and pianist Michael
Hersch has rapidly won the attention and praise of music critics and new music
aficionados around the world.  He
recently performed the world premiere of his own work The Vanishing
(a composition more than
two hours long), entirely from memory, in Philadelphia.  David Patrick Stearns, music critic of
the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote
of the premiere that Hersch “conjured volcanic gestures from the piano with
astonishing virtuosity.”  Stearns

“The evening felt downright
historic.  Overtly or covertly, The
Vanishing Pavilions

is about the destruction of shelter (both in fact and in concept) and life amid
the absence of any certainty.  And
though the music is as deeply troubled as can be, its restless directness also
commands listeners not to be paralyzed by existential futility.”

Hersch’s boxed-set recording
of The Vanishing Pavilions on the
Vanguard Classics label has garnered a great deal of attention.  Andrew Clark of the Financial Times wrote that “Hersch is one of the most fertile
musical minds to emerge in the U.S. over the past generation, and this two-hour
work for piano solo is his magnum opus. … Its powerful imagination and poetic
mood compel attention.”  The label
will issue another CD of Hersch’s works in October.  This release of his Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 for
Unaccompanied Cello
is the first in
a survey of Hersch’s complete solo and chamber music for strings, to be released
over the next three years.

Performances of several
major works by Michael Hersch are scheduled this fall in New York and
Philadelphia, including world premieres of his newest work, Last Autumn, in two different versions.

On September 8, as part of
the Transit Circle contemporary music series at New York’s Mannes School of
Music, Miranda Cuckson performs Hersch’s 14 Pieces for Unaccompanied Violin (2007) alongside works by Ralph Shapey and Elliott

At Philadelphia’s historic
St. Mark’s Church on October 17, Jamie Hersch (horn) and Daniel Gaisford
(cello) will give the world premiere of Hersch’s massive new work, Last
, for horn and cello.  A different version of Last Autumn, this time for alto saxophone and cello, will receive
its world premiere at New York City’s intimate Merkin Concert Hall on February
27, 2010.  The work was
commissioned by the Washington Performing Arts Society and by saxophonist Gary
Louie, who will be joined by Daniel Gaisford for the performance.

The composer comments:

“Last Autumn for horn and cello is the sister
work to The Vanishing Pavilions.  Like The
Vanishing Pavilions
it is intended to comprise an entire concert program.  Together, the two pieces required almost
seven years to complete.  Completed
in 2008, the work is built around poetic fragments of the late W.G. Sebald.  The work was written for two
extraordinary musicians, my brother and horn player Jamie Hersch, and cellist
Daniel Gaisford.”

After learning about Hersch’s
Last Autumn, virtuoso saxophonist
Gary Louie immediately approached the composer about the possibility of
commissioning a version for saxophone and cello.  Hersch substantially reworked the original score,
essentially rewriting the work for this remarkable but vastly underutilized
instrument and one of its finest contemporary players.  Daniel Gaisford will join Louie in the
world premiere of the complete work at Merkin Concert Hall under the auspices
of the Transit Circle contemporary concert series.

Next April 9, an ambitious
new work – a septet entitled A Forest of Attics – will be given its world premiere by Philadelphia’s
Network for New Music, which commissioned the composition for its 25th
anniversary season.  The work is
scored for clarinet, horn, percussion, and a string quartet comprising violin,
viola, cello, and double bass.  It,
too, is built around text fragments, this time by Bruno Schulz, a Polish artist
and writer who was shot and killed during World War II.

Written over a 15-year
period, Hersch’s works for solo strings represent a significant yet relatively unknown
portion of the composer’s output.  The
first in Vanguard’s series of CDs dedicated to these works, scheduled for
release this October, will feature the two sonatas for solo cello, both written
while the composer was still in his 20s.  The second volume in the series, to be released in 2010, will
feature his works for violin, including 14 Pieces, Five Fragments, and the wreckage of flowers.  The third installment,
scheduled for 2011 release, will present Hersch’s unaccompanied works for
double bass and viola. 


Upcoming performances
of works by Michael Hersch

8, 2009 at 8pm

Circle contemporary music series

Mannes, the
New School for Music

150 West 85th
Street, New York, NY

Cuckson, violin and director

Beck, piano

McMillen, piano

Shapey: Sonata for violin and piano (1949)

Hersch: 14 Pieces
for unaccompanied violin (2007)

Carter: Duo for violin and piano (1974)

October 17, 2009 at 8 pm

Premiere of Last Autumn for horn and cello

St. Mark’s

1625 Locust
Street, Philadelphia, PA

Hersch, horn

Gaisford, cello

2009 (date tba)

on Vanguard Classics

Hersch: Sonatas for Unaccompanied Cello

No. 1 for Unaccompanied Cello

No. 2 for Unaccompanied Cello

Gaisford, cello

February 27, 2010 at 8 pm

Premiere of Last Autumn for alto saxophone and cello

by the Washington Performing Arts Society and Gary Louie

Circle concert series

Concert Hall

129 West 67th

New York,

Gary Louie,

Gaisford, cello

April 9, 2010 at 8 pm

Premiere of A Forest of Attics

Network for
New Music Commission

Ethical Society

1906 S.
Rittenhouse Square


Network for
New Music

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© 21C Media Group, September 2009

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