Colleagues and Champions Remember Elliott Carter

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As part of our all-day celebration of the late Elliott Carter, we asked a handful of Carter experts, colleagues and collaborators to share their memories of the man and his music.

Cellist Fred Sherry has been a close Carter collaborator since the 1960s. In addition to an illustrious and ongoing performing career, Sherry was the Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center from 1988 to 1992 and is currently on faculty at the Julliard School, the Mannes College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. Carter, Mario Davidovosky, Charles Wuorinen and John Zorn have all written concertos specifically for Sherry.


As a member of the Julliard String Quartet, violist Sam Rhodes worked closely with Carter, recording all of the composer's string quartets. Currently chair of the viola department at Julliard, Rhodes has appeared with numerous ensembles including the American, Bretano and Mendelssohn String Quartets.


President of the Cleveland Institute of Music and former member of the Julliard Quartet, Joel Smirnoff is the former chair of the violin faculty at the Julliard School. In addition to his work with Carter through the Julliard Quartet, Smirnoff toured with pianist Charles Rosen as a featured performer in Carter's Piano Concerto.


Clarinetist Charles Neidich has appeared as a soloist with a wide range of esteemed ensembles, including the Minneapolis Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Currently on faculty at the Julliard School, the Manhattan School, Queens College and the Mannes College of Music, Neidich worked with and recorded the music of Carter extensively over the course of the last two decades.


A former student of Carter, composer Tod Machover has written for Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, among others. Currently Professor of Music and Media at the MIT Media Lab, Machover was the first Director of Musical Research at the IRCAM institute.


Co-founder of the celebrated contemporary music ensemble Speculum Musicae, pianist Ursula Oppens is a longtime champion of contemporary music. Having commissioned and premiered numerous Carter works over the course of her career, Oppens celebrated the composer's 100th birthday with a series of performances featuring his complete works for piano. Her 2009 recording "Oppens Plays Carter" was nominated for a Grammy award.


Celebrated pianist and music historian Charles Rosen has performed nearly all of Carter's keyboard music, including offering the premiere performance and recording of Carter's Double Concerto for Harpsichord and Piano with Two Chamber Orchestras in 1961.


Clarinetist Virgil Blackwell was a founding member of the contemporary music ensemble Speculum Musicae and is a former member of the Steve Reich ensemble. A longtime Carter collaborator and assistant, Blackwell premiered Carter's bass clarinet solo Steep Steps, written specifically for him. He served as Executive Producer on a number of Carter's recordings with Oliver Knussen. 


President and CEO of New Music USA, Ed Harsh has served as President of Meet the Composer and Director of Development of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. A composer and former student of Louis Andriessen and Martin Bresnick, he's written for ensembles including the Albany Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestras.


Founder and director of the New Julliard Ensemble as well as a co-director, with Cheryl Seltzer, of Continuum, conductor, pianist and pedagoge Joel Sachs is a longtime champion of contemporary music. Currently on faculty at the Julliard School, Sachs also directs New York City's annual Focus! Festival. His extensive biography of Henry Cowell was published this year by Oxford University Press.