Melissa Smey and the Composers of Miller Theatre

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Melissa Smey is the Director of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University, advocating adventurous programming through ambitious partnerships with composers and performers. Her Mixtape includes several composers from the theater's Composer Portrait series, which begins its spring season on February 9 with the music of Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina.

Melissa Smey writes the following of her Mixtape:

I love all of the music that we present at Miller Theatre, but for this mixtape, I picked four of my favorite pieces. It’s no coincidence that we’ve worked with every one of these composers at Miller Theatre, all of them more than once; in many cases, the relationships span a number of years.

We produced the United States premiere performance of Michael Gordon’s Weather in 2004, and the ensemble featured on this recording – Ensemble Resonanz – played that performance here, too. The movement I’ve selected for this playlist is the last of four. We’re actually performing the first movement as part of our series “Bach, Revisited." It’ll be paired with some audaciously modern-sounding music by the Baroque composer Jean-Féry Rebel.

I love all of John Zorn’s music, but especially his string quartets. We’ve programmed Necronomicon on the Composer Portraits series. It’s in-your-face, complex and terrific. 

We had the great honor of producing the first American performance of Kaija Saariaho’s only ballet, and first stage work, Maa in 2010. I am incredibly excited that the production is being revived in Paris, at Cité de la Musique, this April. I can’t wait to see it again.

The last piece on the mixtape is one I haven’t yet programmed at Miller, but I really want to. It’s Olga Neuwirth’s string quartet Akroate Hadal.  Olga was just here for a Portrait concert in November, and she’s one of the most important composers working today. I think it complements the Zorn; to my ear, they share similar color palette and work really well together.


Michael Gordon: Weather Four
John Zorn: Necronomicon
Kaija Saariaho: Maa: IV. Forest
Olga Neuwirth: Akroate Hadal