Project 440: 4 Commissions. 40 Years of Orpheus.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We began in June with 60 of today’s most talented emerging composers. Now, after hearing from WQXR listeners and considering YOUR feedback, the Selection Committee has narrowed it down to four composers whose works will be premiered by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra during the 2011-12 Carnegie Hall season.

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Perspectives on Project 440

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hear from Graham Parker, Vice President of WQXR/Former Executive Director of Orpheus, and Melinda Wagner and Fred Lerdahl, two composers who have composed for Orpheus in the past.

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Project 440 on Video

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Get the latest insights on Project 440—and responses to your comments—in this series of short, informal videos, featuring Orpheus musicians and members of the Nominating Panel.

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Project 440 versus…“American Idol”?

Monday, July 12, 2010

To all of you who have contributed your comments and questions about Project 440 thus far, thanks! It’s great to see so many thoughtful and wide-ranging opinions. In response to one question—whether Project 440 is a variation on “American Idol” or reality TV at large—we’d like to offer a note of clarification.

Comments [1]

Preben Antonsen

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I wrote An Ordinary Evening at the Yellowbarn Young Artists Program during the summer of 2009. My goal for the piece was to create music that was driven by textures and timbres rather than harmonies or even rhythms. I tried to bring this about by simplifying my harmonies and rhythms to an almost embarrassing degree. A device I employed throughout was a short but powerful swell, iterated repeatedly. This was inspired by the so-called sidechaining effect that gives the sensation of centrifugal pumping to French house music (Daft Punk, Justice, Danger, and others), which I had been listening to at the time of writing.

Comments [17]

Yao Chen

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The autumn of 2005 is special in my memory—it arrived suddenly, and faded away at an extremely slow pace. It was amazing for me to listen to the sound of the wind blowing through the leaves, and to watch how those trembling leaves changed their colors over time. In response to those enchanting colors and sounds, that autumn I composed these two orchestral tone poems.

Comments [41]

Donnacha Dennehy

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The creative spark for Crane was an ambitious collaborative concept: an urban industrial ballet, to involve a live orchestral performance and the choreographed movement of cranes located at various building sites across the Dublin skyline during the apex of Dublin’s construction boom. Although the costs and practicalities of the choreography eventually proved insurmountable, it happily set the conditions for the birth of this stand-alone piece.

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Benjamin Ellin

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A major work for brass and percussion, Nahstops 2 was written in 2004 for James Watson and the Royal Academy of Music in London. It is a dramatic and varied work composed for a large ensemble—the same size as that used in Elgar Howarth’s version of Pictures at an Exhibition—and while not programmatic, it is written in episodes or chapters. The extract here first splits the two sections of trombones and trumpets, with one group playing a vibrant dancelike theme and the other a broad melody, before combining the forces in a dramatic conclusion.

Comments [96]

Devin Farney

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The musical legacy of French composer Erik Satie (1866-1925) is, in the eyes of many, superseded by the quirks that defined him as a man. Such eccentricities are often evident in the titles given to his works, such as Two Preludes For a Dog and Dried Up Embryos, and his sharp wit can clearly be observed in his countless quips and keen observations on music, art, religion, society, and everything else. To this day people are still vexed by this monumentally inscrutable figure.

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Aaron Grad

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Unlike all other stringed instruments, which make sound through some act of plucking, hammering or bowing, the Aeolian harp is activated by wind blowing across the strings, like a telephone wire humming in a stiff breeze. The instrument particularly captivated poets of the Romantic age, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834). In The Aeolian Harp, the poet recalls lounging on a lazy afternoon and musing on the instrument’s “soft floating witchery of sound” coming from the window.

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Judd Greenstein

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Night Gatherers, for viola quintet, was commissioned by the family of my friend, a violist, as a celebration of the life of their recently deceased matriarch. This impressive woman was a painter and long-time advocate for women's rights; one of her best paintings, “The Night Gatherers,” combines these passions in a depiction of Mexican women gathering leftover wheat from the fields in the middle of the night.

Comments [14]

Yotam Haber

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Espresso was the first work I wrote in New York City. It was written in a tiny studio just big enough for an upright piano, a chair, a desk, and an espresso machine—the bare necessities for a composer (Beethoven drank 17 cups a day). This dark, short, concentrated shot of a piece is concerned with the development of a flitting, whirring motive first played by a pair of clarinets and then expanding in both directions, always in instrumental pairs. A climax is reached, and after a brass interruption, a set of colorful, mercurial variations follow. The work ends with a calm coda of weightless whispers—an aftertaste, faintly recalling flavors just experienced.

Comments [34]

Martin Kennedy

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Suite for string quartet was commissioned by Musica Reginae, a relatively new classical music society based in Queens, New York.  Their newly formed resident quartet was interested in having new works written for them, and I was at the same time eager to write a string quartet, something that I had somehow managed to avoid up until then.  It received its premiere in January 2008 in Flushing Town Hall.l.

Comments [4]

Christopher Lee

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The title Interiors is meant to signify a psychological or emotional interior, a mixture of impulse and instinct that operates beneath the surface of conscious action. This general idea is the starting point for an exploration of different narrative paths—ones in which actions may be influenced either by interior impulse or exterior catalyst and in which both types of action can intersect.

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James Lee III

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Scenes Upon Eternity’s Edge is one work in a series of compositions in which I draw my source of inspiration from the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation.

Comments [67]

David T. Little

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Although it might appear that the two works submitted here occupy different points on the musical spectrum, they are nonetheless unified by their source of inspiration: people’s everyday struggles, be they political, economic, or emotional. The exploration of these struggles has always been an important part of my work and is what has brought me to compose theatrical music with an explicitly political message. These elements—combined in equal part with my experience as a rock musician—have helped form my compositional voice.

Comments [12]

Zibuokle Martinaityte

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Driving Force (2004) for trombone, tenor saxophone and accordion (commissioned by Gaida Festival, Lithuania) 

A driving force is the inner device that stimulates any activity. An impulse and a driving force are required for any action. The latter is the most important. How do we find it? Where does it lie?

Comments [59]

AJ McCaffrey

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stop is the new Go was written for the Avion Saxophone Quartet in the summer of 2007. I was interested in trying to translate some ideas from film and cinema into music. I was thinking of a narrative in which, for some reason, the story kept getting turned off suddenly, and the viewer or listener then had to piece together what was happening from the fragments they did hear or see.  The title refers to the idea that even in the absence of typical or traditional development, a kind of momentum can still be felt throughout the work.

Comments [25]

Polina Nazaykinskaya

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Each piece of music that I write comes from the depth of my heart, from the inner ocean of emotions and possibilities that are carried by waves of memories. Just as a sculptor frees the elusive figures from the block of marble by cutting away all that is unnecessary, I find myself carving out the musical notes with the inspiration that visits me and calls on me to compose, guiding the process of creation. Perhaps for the composer, the writing of music is a divine act, as much a meditative experience opens the gates to paradise lost and brings out the nostalgia for the infinite. This is what I felt when I was writing the violin concerto Konzerto for A.

Comments [55]

Jonathan Russell

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The two pieces here—ELEVEN and Sextet —embody many of my current musical interests. Both use minimalist and vernacular materials as starting points, but develop them into complex, dramatic narratives. While I grew up steeped in the classical tradition, I have since become fascinated with minimalism and various vernacular styles, especially heavy metal, funk, klezmer, and Balkan music. I thus aim to use basic materials that are catchy, direct, and rhythmically driving and to build them into complex, dramatic, emotionally compelling narratives in the manner of classical masters like Brahms or Beethoven.

Comments [4]