Library of Congress Announces Music Commissions from the 2021 Koussevitzky Foundation
The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress has awarded commissions for new musical works to seven composers. The commissions are granted jointly by the foundation and the performing organizations that will present the world premiere performances of the newly composed works.
Winning composers for 2021 and the groups co-sponsoring their commissions are Katherine Balch and Longleash; Helen Grime and the Boston Symphony Orchestra together with the London Symphony Orchestra; Tonia Ko and Contemporaneous; Eric Nathan and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; Hilda Paredes and the Takt Trio; and Matthew Rickets and Duo Axis.
The Koussevitzky Foundation is also proud to announce a new commission granted in memory of composer Andrew W. Imbrie (1921-2007), long-time member of the Koussevitzky Foundation Board. This commission, inaugurated in 2021, was made possible through a gift from Barbara Cushing Imbrie and Andrew Philip Imbrie. Composer Sebastian Currier, sponsored by loadbang ensemble, is the first recipient of the Imbrie commission.
Serge Koussevitzky, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1924 to 1949, was a leading champion of contemporary music. Throughout his distinguished career, he played a vital role in the creation of new works by commissioning composers such as Béla Bartók, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky. He established the Koussevitzky Foundation in 1942 and passed operations to the Library of Congress in 1949 to continue his lifelong commitment to composers and new music. Original manuscripts of works commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation comprise an integral part of the Library’s unparalleled music collections.
Applications for commissions are accepted annually. There were no commissions awarded in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Katherine Balch, recipient of the prestigious Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, served as composer-in-residence for the California Symphony and Young Concert Artists, Inc. Her critically acclaimed works have been performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the symphony orchestras of Albany, Boston, Indianapolis, Minnesota and Oregon, as well as the London Sinfonietta and the Ensemble Intercontemporain. Balch was educated at the Yale School of Music and Columbia University. In her work as an educator, she is deeply committed to developing inclusive and engaging pedagogical practices that empower young musicians. Balch will write a new work for violin, cello and piano for Longleash, a trio dedicated to new music.
- Sebastian Currier’s many honors include the coveted Grawemeyer Award, the Berlin Prize, the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Academy Award presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His music frequently appears on programs worldwide and has been presented by such organizations as the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Kronos Quartet and the Berlin Philharmonic, with whom he has had an extended association. Currier’s “Time Machines” and “Aftersong” were written for violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, who recorded and toured widely with this music. Currier received a doctoral degree from the Juilliard School before joining the faculty at Columbia University, where he taught until 2007. He currently is artist in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. The Koussevitzky Foundation commissioned Currier in 1994 for his “Broken Consort,” scored for chamber ensemble. This new commission, awarded in memory of Andrew W. Imbrie, will result in a work for New York-based ensemble loadbang, an innovative group featuring the unusual instrumental combination of trumpet, trombone, baritone voice and bass clarinet.
- Helen Grime will compose a new trumpet concerto for virtuoso soloist Håkan Hardenberger and the London Symphony Orchestra together with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Grime enjoyed early recognition when she won a British Composer Award for her Oboe Concerto in 2003. She later was awarded a Leonard Bernstein Fellowship to attend the Tanglewood Music Center. Grime served as associate composer to the Hallé Orchestra and composer in residence at the Wigmore Hall, both in the United Kingdom. Her commissions have come from the Barbican Centre for Sir Simon Rattle’s inaugural season as Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as from other foremost ensembles and institutions such as Aldeburgh Music, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Britten Sinfonia, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Since 2017, Grime has served as professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
- Tonia Ko works across media as a composer, sound artist and visual artist. An example of her interdisciplinary work, “Breath, Contained,” is a series of works using bubble wrap for both its visual and sound attributes. Her Koussevitzky commission will result in a new, large-scale concerto for amplified bubble wrap, featuring Ko as soloist, with the 23-musician group Contemporaneous. Ko’s works have been performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and internationally at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Royaumont Académie Voix Nouvelles, the Shanghai Conservatory New Music Week and Thailand International Composition Festival. Awards and grants have come from the Barlow and Fromm foundations, among others; in 2018 Ko received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Educated at the Eastman School of Music, the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and Cornell University, Ko is an American artist based in London, where she teaches at Royal Holloway, University of London.
- Eric Nathan has been commissioned by numerous prominent chamber ensembles and orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic Tanglewood Music Center, Boston Musica Viva, Collage New Music, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, for whom he has written a chamber work and two orchestral pieces. Recipient of the Rome Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Nathan’s works have also appeared on international programs and at festivals in Europe and the U.S. He began a four-year appointment as composer-in-residence with the New England Philharmonic in the 2019-20 season. Holding degrees from Yale, Indiana and Cornell universities, Nathan is an associate professor of music at Brown University, where he was recognized with the Henry Merritt Wriston Fellowship for excellence in teaching. His Koussevitzky commission, “Opening,” written for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, was premiered as part of the inaugural concerts in the orchestra’s new Bradley Center in October 2021; the performance will be broadcast nationally on PBS on Dec. 17, 2021.
- Hilda Paredes is commissioned to write a trio for horn, violin and piano to be performed by the Takt Trio, an ensemble formed in anticipation of the upcoming centenary of composer György Ligeti. Paredes is a Mexican composer who has been based in London for more than 35 years. Her electroacoustic works have been created at the Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique, at SWR Experimental studio, and at the Centre International De Recherche Musicale, where the electronics of her widely celebrated opera “Harriet, Scenes in the life of Harriet Tubman,” were created. Paredes received the UK’s Ivors Award for this work. Her many other honors include Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships, and a fellowship from Mexico’s Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes. Paredes has been commissioned by top soloists, ensembles and orchestras in Europe and North America, including the Arditti Quartet, Collegium Novum Zurich, Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Hilliard Ensemble, ICE, and the Filarmónica de la Ciudad de México, among others. She remains active in the cultural life of Mexico as a composer, teacher and radio producer focusing on new music.
- Matthew Ricketts is a Canadian composer working from New York City. He is recipient of Guggenheim and Civitella Ranieri fellowships, as well as those from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Tanglewood Music Center, and the MacDowell Colony. Ricketts’ music has been performed worldwide by ensembles such as JACK, Mivos, Flux and Chiarra quartets, vocalists Tony Arnold and Margot Rood, Collage New Music, Yarn/Wire, Wet Ink, and Talea Ensemble, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg. Ricketts collaborated with Cree playwright Tomson Highway on his multilingual opera “Chaakapesh: The Trickster’s Quest” (2018); this acclaimed work opened the Montreal Symphony’s 84th concert season and later toured Indigenous communities throughout Québec. Ricketts is also active as a writer, publishing articles, reviews, poetry and libretti. He earned degrees in music composition from McGill and Columbia universities. Ricketts’ new commission will be a work written for Duo Axis as part of a larger commissioning project celebrating new works for flute and piano by American composers.
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