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WQXR Features

Café Concert: Music From Copland House

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Aaron Copland, who died in 1990, spent the last 30 years of his life in a modernist, ranch-style house in Cortlandt Manor, NY, not far from the Hudson River. There he worked in a bright glass-walled studio that overlooked a lush, green woods.

For the last dozen years, the composer’s house has been turned into a center for scholarship and performance, most notably as the headquarters of Music From Copland House, a chamber ensemble directed by the pianist Michael Boriskin. The group champions music by Copland and his contemporaries as well as their ancestors and heirs.

Four members of the group arrived at the WQXR Café recently with music by Paul Moravec, a New York composer who has been decorated with a series of awards and major commissions. Moravec's Tempest Fantasy (2002), the work for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004, is based on the Shakespeare play and uses its central characters -- Ariel, Prospero and Caliban -- as the subjects of the first three movement. Here, violinist Nicholas Kitchen (of the Borromeo String Quartet), clarinetist Derek Bermel, cellist Joshua Roman and Boriskin on piano launched into the perpetual-motion opening movement with vitality and vigor.

“It’s a gas of a piece," exclaimed Boriskin after the performance.

Music From Copland House are presenting Moravec’s piece as part of a pair of concerts devoted to Pulitzer Prize winning-works at the Caramoor Festival in Katonah, NY. Among the composers represented are vintage names like Barber, Ives and Copland, as well as recent winners like William Bolcolm, Jennifer Higdon and Bright Sheng. The second installment takes place on July 31; in the meantime, tune in for a live online chat with the members of the ensemble on Q2’s The New Canon on Monday at 4 pm.

Video: Amy Pearl; Sound: Edward Haber; Text: Brian Wise