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Michael Hersch’s 2012-13 season: world premiere, new recording

Music by the American composer Michael Hersch – hailed by music critic Tim Page as “a Promethean creator who…combines a mixture of urgency and facility that is dazzling” – will be heard across the country and around the world during the 2012-13 season, with performance highlights in Baltimore, New York, San Francisco, and France. Hersch’s music will be showcased on September 18 at Baltimore’s Peabody Institute, where he serves as chairman of the composition department, with performances by Miranda Cuckson, Gary Louie, the Blair String Quartet, and the composer himself. In February, baritone Thomas Hampson will give the world premiere of Domicilium, a song cycle based on texts by Thomas Hardy, in San Francisco. Meanwhile, pianist Soheil Nasseri performs Hersch’s Suite from The Vanishing Pavilions on a tour that includes stops in New York (Sep 4), Chicago (Sep 13), and Bordeaux, France (Nov 19).
On September 25, Innova Recordings will release Neomonology, a new album from double bassist Jeffrey Weisner, which includes the world premiere recording of Hersch’s Caelum Dedecoratum, a work in one movement for solo bass. Weisner, who commissioned the work from Hersch and gave its premiere in 2007, will also perform it on September 7 at New York’s Spectrum Concerts.
Hersch’s works-in-progress include a new cello concerto for Daniel Gaisford, with plans for a premiere in 2013. Gaisford, a longtime champion of the composer’s work, gave premiere performances of both the Sonata No. 2 for unaccompanied cello (2000) and Last Autumn for horn and cello (2008). Hersch has also begun work on a major new work for female voice and chamber ensemble, On the Threshold of Winter, based on Romanian writer Marin Sorescu’s wrenching final work, The Bridge. The premiere is tentatively scheduled for the 2012-13 season of nunc (now), a newly-formed organization committed to the creation and performance of contemporary music, directed by Miranda Cuckson.
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Michael Hersch
Widely recognized as one of the most gifted composers of his generation, Michael Hersch continues to write music of tremendous power and invention. Writing in the Washington Post more than a decade ago, critic Tim Page heralded the arrival on the international stage of “a Promethean creator who has been charged with relaying his particular message. He combines a mixture of urgency and facility that is dazzling.”
Born in 1971 in Washington, D.C., Hersch first came to international attention at age 25, when he was awarded first prize in the American Composers Awards. This resulted in a performance of his Elegy, conducted by Marin Alsop in New York’s Alice Tully Hall in 1997. One of the youngest recipients ever to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition, Hersch has also received both the Rome Prize and the Berlin Prize. He studied at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, with additional studies at the Moscow Conservatory in Russia. He currently heads the Department of Composition at the Peabody Institute of Music.
Highlights of Hersch’s composing career include his Symphony No. 2, commissioned by Mariss Jansons and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. His first Piano Concerto, commissioned by Garrick Ohlsson and the orchestras of St. Louis, Oregon, and Pittsburgh, was premiered in 2002. His work for violin and piano, the wreckage of flowers, which was commissioned by Midori, was given performances by the violinist and pianist Robert McDonald in Lisbon, London, and New York in 2004. Arraché, commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for the opening of its new concert hall, was premiered in 2005. The next year, in Philadelphia, the composer gave the world premiere of his landmark two-hour work for solo piano, The Vanishing Pavilions.
Vanguard Classics has embarked on a three-volume survey of Hersch’s complete music for solo strings. This project comes after the celebrated 2007 release of The Vanishing Pavilions, with the composer at the piano. His second disc for the label, featuring the composer performing his own works in addition to those of Feldman, Rihm and Josquin, was selected by the Washington Post and Newsday as among the most important recordings of 2004-05. In 2006, a recording of Hersch’s orchestral works, including his Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2, was released in the Naxos “American Classics” series, with Marin Alsop conducting the Bournemouth Symphony.
Hersch’s mentor, the late George Rochberg, called the younger composer “a rare and unique talent. … His music sounds the dark places of the human heart and soul. The inherent drama of his work is remarkable for being completely unselfconscious, unstudied, and powerful in its projection, convinced and convincing.”
Music by Michael Hersch – upcoming performances and events
Sep 4, 8pm
New York, NY
Merkin Concert Hall
Suite From The Vanishing Pavilions
Soheil Nasseri, piano
Sep 7, 7pm
New York, NY
Spectrum Concerts (121 Ludlow St)
Caelum Dedecoratum for unaccompanied double bass
Jeffrey Weisner, bass
Sep 13, 3pm
Chicago, Il
International Beethoven Project” Festival (National Pastime Theater, Mason Hall)
Suite From The Vanishing Pavilions
Soheil Nasseri, piano
Sep 18, 8pm
Baltimore, MD
The Peabody Institute (Friedberg Concert Hall)
Sylvia Adalman Artists Recital Series
All-Hersch program featuring Images From a Closed Ward
Blair String Quartet / Miranda Cuckson / Gary Louie / Michael Hersch
Sept 25: release date
Neomonology (Innova Recordings)
Michael Hersch: Caelum Dedecoratum for unaccompanied double bass (world premiere recording)
Jeffrey Weisner, Bass
Nov 19
Bordeaux, France
“L’Esprit du Piano” Festival
Suite From The Vanishing Pavilions
Soheil Nasseri, piano
Feb 26, 8pm
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Performances (Herbst Theatre)
Domicilium: a song cycle after texts of Thomas Hardy (world premiere performance)
Thomas Hampson, baritone; Wolfram Rieger, piano
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