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Posts tagged 'Boston Modern Orchestra Project'

Andrew Norman Wins Grawemeyer Award for "Play"

Andrew Norman has won the 2017 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for his recently-revised work, Play. As recently featured in this blog, the revised version of Play was premeired in October by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the first version of the work was commissioned, premiered, and recorded by BMOP.

Norman has already been named Musical America's Composer of the Year for 2017, and has been featured in The New York Times and Music and Literature; with this most recent honor, Norman has acknowledged his groundbreaking work with a call for a more inclusive environment in New Music. In an interview with NPR, Norman said,

"Maybe I can use this moment to talk about things that are important to me. Like to call attention to the fact that there are problems. For instance, this award has been given to three women out of its 30-year history. And to me that's kind of an issue. And in all honesty, I'm a white man and I get lots of commissions and there are systemic reasons for that, reasons we should all be talking about. There are so many talented composers out there. Rather than giving me another commission, why aren't we giving those people a commission?" 

Play has the instructions "cut to a different world": perhaps the metaphoric transitions and ludic potentialities created by this staggering symphonic work can be instructive to our political lives, as well.  

Andrew Norman's "Play", Revised & Ready for Action at the LA Phil

Andrew Norman has had many honors bestowed upon him in the past several years: he has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist, won both the Berlin and Rome Prizes, held a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was recently named Musical America's "2017 Composer of the Year". Within the past four years, attention continues to return to Norman's large-scale orchestral work, Play — a work that critic William Robin has called "the best orchestral work that the twenty-first century has seen thus far"— a "symphony in everything but name" that endlessly enchants audiences, musicians and critics alike. 

Play was commissioned in 2012 by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and premiered to critical acclaim; the ensemble's recording, also critically acclaimed, was nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award

But Norman, unlike most composers, has not rested on his laurels; instead, he has pursued the conceptual and theoretical implications of this knotty, ludic work further, and has decided to substantially revise the piece, playing with the idea that a "work" must be a bounded, concrete object. Instead, Norman offers us a "work" as a process of discovery: a set of instructions for play. 

              
(pages from Andrew Norman's Play)

These revisions for Play were commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the new iteration of this work will premiere on October 28th at Walt Disney Concert Hall, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

Violist and scholar Anne Lanzilotti has recently published an extensive article on Norman's Play in Music & Literature, which traces the development of the work through her years of close collaboration with Norman as musician, musicologist, and friend. Lanzilotti, along with videographer Stephen Taylor, have created a website dedicated to exploring Norman's extended instrumental techniques, titled "Shaken, Not Stuttered." 

As Lanzilotti writes in Music & Literature

"Norman’s music is thrilling to experience live because of the abundance of unusual sounds that emanate from the stage. Emerging from these sounds is an incredible, slow, lyrical narrative that Norman threads through each piece. The journey of each instrumental line in this narrative gradually unfolds, manipulated by rules of the symphonic game, and blurred by intensely physical extended techniques that challenge traditional concepts of beauty."

In time for the Los Angeles Philharmonic's performances this weekend, the revised score for Andrew Norman's Play is available now for sale from PSNY

Lei Liang's "Xiaoxiang" Concerto Named Pulitzer Prize Finalist!

Lei Liang’s Xiaoxiang Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra has been named a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in Music. The work received its world premiere in its revised and expanded version in 2014 with soloist Chien-Kwan Lin and Gil Rose leading the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. This nomination marks another significant achievement for Liang, who has received an Aaron Copland Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Rome Prize.

Liang evokes a specific incident in Chinese history with Xiaoxiang, a name for the region in Hunan Province where the rivers Xiao and Xiang intersect. This incident occurred during the Cultural Revolution, when a woman sought to avenge the unjust death of her husband by wailing in the forest near the house of the local official that killed him. Liang writes of the work:

Instead of displaying technical virtuosity, the soloist in this piece portrays the protagonist’s inability to articulate or utter. The soloist’s music is marked by silences. In that sense, the work may be perceived as an anti-concerto.

Listen to a full recording of BMOP's premiere performance here: 

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