Village Composers and Stephen Dembski, featuring soprano Sharon Harms
September 24 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm EDT$15 – $20
Greenwich Village, has a thriving music scene represented in this program of newer and recent works by a diverse group of Village composers. This program of music is dedicated to the memory of composer Stephen Dembski, long-time West Village resident, who died suddenly in summer 2021.
In addition to works by Dembski, the program includes a premiere by his friend and Village neighbor David Glaser, plus works by composers who knew and loved Dembski – Frank Brickle, Sheree Clement, and Eve Beglarian – and works by Akemi Naito, Yehudi Wyner and Steve Sacco. Many of the performers on this program knew Dembski.
Long-time Village resident Stephen Dembski was an extraordinary composer of moving and beautiful music, a music theorist, editor and improvising conductor of long-form modular works. His death last August was unexpected and a great loss to the music community. This tribute will feature a mix of Dembski’s own compositions and selections by friends and other Village composers, including new pieces by Frank Brickle and David Glaser.
While still enrolled in college, Stephen Dembski, played flute professionally in Europe for a time, worked in a small band named Kiss that played mostly prisons in Ohio, and in a big band led by Cecil Taylor. By his early twenties, he was composing music back in the old Euro-American tradition, and eventually earned degrees in it from Antioch, SUNY-Stony Brook, and Princeton. His music – which includes instrumental, vocal, and electro-acoustic works, as well as pieces for improvising musicians and for interactive installations of sound and light – has been recognized by awards and performances in both the United States and in Europe.
Awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for his piano concerto, Chiavi in Mano, Yehudi Wyner (born 1929) is one of America's most distinguished musicians. His compositions include over 100 works for orchestra, chamber ensemble, solo voice and solo instruments, piano, chorus, and music for the theater, as well as liturgical services for worship. He has received commissions from Carnegie Hall, the Boston Symphony, the BBC Philharmonic, the Library of Congress, the Ford Foundation, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Fromm Foundation, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and Worldwide Concurrent Premieres among others. His recording The Mirror (Naxos) won a 2005 Grammy Award.
Frank Brickle (born 1951) studied composition and piano at Princeton, where his principal teacher was Milton Babbitt. He has been widely performed for 50 years in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Much of his earlier work involved electronic and synthesized sound and fixed media. In the late 1980s, Frank began exploring ways to use the great wealth of compositional techniques that emerged in the last century for a broader range of musical goals. Most recently he has concentrated on vocal music, often with small chamber ensembles featuring the guitar. He currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Born in Tokyo, Akemi Naito began studying piano at the age of five and composition at 14. In 1978, she received her B.A. in Music Composition from the University Division at the Toho Gakuen School of Music and a postgraduate degree from the same university in 1980. She was a member of the school’s faculty from 1980 until 1991. Akemi was awarded the Takei Prize in 1982 and was a finalist of the Music Today Composition Award in 1982 and 1988. Following her earlier activity as a composer in Tokyo, she received a grant from the Asian Cultural Council that enabled her to come to New York City in 1991. She has since established herself as a New York-based composer.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Eve Beglarian is “a humane, idealistic rebel and a musical sensualist.” Her current projects include a collaboration with writer/performer Karen Kandel and director Mallory Catlett about women and gender-expansive people in Vicksburg from the Civil War to the present which will premiere at Harlem Stage in January 2023, and a piece for 24 basses in a grove of trees, composed for Robert Black and friends. Since 2001, she has been creating A Book of Days: "a grand and gradually manifesting work in progress... an eclectic and wide-open series of enticements.”
David Glaser is Associate Professor of Music at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University where he has taught since 1996. He studied at Hunter College, Queens College, and Columbia University and his teachers have included Mario Davidovsky, George Edwards, Martin Boykan, Jacques-Louis Monod and Jack Beeson. David received a 2007 Fromm Foundation commission to compose a work for the Parthenia viol consort. In 2005, he received the Academy Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters which described his work as "subtly potent music of important potential".
Steven Sacco was born in Brooklyn. His work is performed internationally by some of today’s leading soloists and ensembles. Critics praise him for writing “absorbing, poetic and passionate music that easily engages the sympathies and attention of a concert audience.” His artistic collaborators have included the American Brass Quintet, Czech Nonet, the United States Army Band Pershing's Own, Steven Isserlis, David Oei, Eriko Sato, Adela Pena, Luciano Berio, John D. Rojak, Michael Powell, Raymond Mase, Kevin Cobb, Antoinette Perry, Juliana Gondek, and Speculum Musicae. International tours have seen his work performed in Australia, Asia, Europe, North and South America, as well as the music festivals of Aspen, Tanglewood, Bowdoin, Deal (UK) and IIMF (Italy).
Using intricate shimmering colors over fragments of tunes, Sheree Clement builds surprising narratives. She upends the listener’s expectations with politically charged texts, found sounds and unusual structures. The League of Composers Orchestra, Ariadne Greif, Eliza Garth and others have commissioned works, with performances by ensembles such as the Tanglewood Music Festival Orchestra, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and Speculum Musicae. Sheree holds composition degrees from the University of Michigan and Columbia University. Her honors include a Goddard Lieberson Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
A top prizewinner at the International Mozart Competition, Tunbridge Wells International Competition, and Greater New York Chopin Competition, pianist Emily White has appeared in recital at London’s Wigmore Hall and Southbank Centre, New York’s Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh, and Saint David’s Hall in Cardiff, and as soloist with the National Orchestral Institute in Maryland, Lake Forest Symphony, Brooklyn Symphony, Sudeten Philharmonic (Poland), and Oltenia Philharmonic (Romania). Her recordings on Arabesque include Szymanowski Piano Works, Brahms’s Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, and a new release, American Collection, including six world premieres of music by Yehudi Wyner.
New York based pianist Theo Rockas is a Greenwich Village resident, currently studying at the Juilliard School. He has performed Pintscher at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Reich in Juilliard's ChamberFest, and gave the premiere of renowned British composer Michael Finnissy's "Could I Sing with Angels" in Carnegie Hall. Theo has participated in the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice and the Aspen Music Festival, recorded with the New Juilliard Ensemble, and received praise from the New York Times for his performance of Glass in a concert also featuring the composer as a performer.