EMU hosts composer William Bolcom as part of Music Now Fest '09

by Heather Hamilton, Published February 10, 2009

YPSILANTI — It’s not every day that students have the opportunity to interact with a distinguished American composer, but Music Now Fest ’09 does just that. William Bolcom is the featured guest composer as Eastern Michigan University hosts its 16th biennial new music festival, Music Now Fest ’09, Wednesday, Feb. 18, through Friday, Feb. 20.

Bolcom is widely regarded as one of America’s most distinguished composers and was named the 2007 Composer of the Year by Musical America. He also has been honored with a National Medal of Arts, a Pulitzer Prize for music and multiple Grammy Awards.

His focus is chamber, operatic, vocal, choral, cabaret, ragtime and symphonic music. Bolcom taught composition at the University of Michigan’s School of Music from 1973-2008. He will interact directly with students and the public in panel discussions, lectures, and rehearsals in preparation for the performance of his work.

“We should have access to the good music, literature and art of our own time. The world of popular culture usually communicates, in a very limited way, aspects of the human experience in a very direct and commercialized manner, while classical or so-called high culture, does this in more subtle, broader, deeper and more complex ways,” said Anthony Iannaccone, professor of composition at EMU. “Students and faculty in a university should have access to both worlds. Music Now helps, substantially, to make that possible by providing an opportunity to experience excellent performances of a broad range of high-quality modern music, with special focus on the work of a living composer who is a featured speaker at the festival.”

This festival displays the collective talents of EMU’s music faculty and students, as well as guest artists. The festival begins with a faculty recital Wednesday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m., in Pease Auditorium. This recital sets the stage for the festival with a variety of works from composers Whitney Prince, Samuel Barber, Arvo Part, Brian McCloskey and Anthony Iannaccone. Faculty and guest artists include Glenda Kirkland, soprano; Kimberly Cole-Luevano, clarinet; Julie Stone, flute; Carter Eggers, trumpet; and pianists Garik Pedersen, Anne Beth Gajda and Larisa Simington.

EMU welcomes Bolcom Thursday, Feb. 19, 11 a.m., in Pease Auditorium. Bolcom will discuss and play excerpts from his works.

An open orchestra rehearsal of “Commedia” is scheduled at 1 p.m., in Pease Auditorium, with the Symphony Orchestra, Bolcom and director Kevin Miller.

An open choir rehearsal of “Maha Sonnet,” “Chorale on St. Anne’s Hymn” and “The Rhodora” follows at 3 p.m., with the University Choir and director Trey Jacobs.

Faculty and guests artists perform a concert featuring the chamber music of Bolcom, at 8 p.m., in Pease Auditorium. This concert will include “Five Fold Five,” “First Piano Quartet,” “Three Ghost Rags,” “Trio for Clarinet,” “Violin and Piano,” “Virtuosity Rag” and “Gospel Preludes.”

Music Now Fest ’09 continues Friday, Feb. 20, with an open band rehearsal of  “Song” and “Machine” with Bolcom and the Wind Symphony, directed by Mary Schneider, at 11 a.m., in Pease Auditorium.

Bolcom will participate in a conversational exchange with a composer’s panel and audience members about the compositional process and issues related to contemporary music at 2 p.m., in Alexander Recital Hall.

An additional open band rehearsal of Augusta Reed Thomas’ “Magneticfireflies” is scheduled with the Symphonic Band at 4 p.m., in Pease Auditorium. John Zastoupil will direct.

The festival concludes with a concert of contemporary music at 8 p.m., in Pease Auditorium. The EMU Symphony Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Symphony Band, University Choir, Chamber Choir and Percussion Ensemble will perform selections by Bolcom. Tickets are $8 for adults, and $4 for students and seniors. They are available at the door or advance tickets are available at the EMU Convocation Center, 487-2282, or the Quirk Theatre Box Office, 487-1221.

For more information about Music Now Fest ’09, visit www.emich.edu/music/html/events.html or call 487-4380.

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their careers and lives, and to be better citizens.

Heather Hamilton



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