CD Fair in NYC celebrates Academy composers, new ‘Americans in Rome’ recordings

There’s a lot to celebrate the night of Thursday 13 November. And some great discs to buy.

Bridge Records has just released a stunning four CD collection of music written exclusively by composers who won the Rome Prize to the AAR. Some of this they created while in residence at the Academy, some of it before or (especially) after their Rome experience. It’s titled Americans in Rome: Music by Fellows of the American Academy in Rome. The CD set features the works of 37 of the more than 200 American composers the Academy has sponsored with Rome Prize Fellowships over the course of nine decades. See Kathryn King‘s press release for the recordings here.

aircoverThe artistic director for this box set, Donald Berman, really evokes here the intensity and breadth of the American Academy’s involvement with contemporary music. That dates back to 1921, when the AAR awarded its first Rome Prizes in Music Composition.

Though the recordings on these CDs are new, they cover works from the 1920s to the present decade, from some of the best known composers in American music to some largely forgotten masters. (See the list toward the end of this post.)

The disc also features some leading performers of contemporary music, including Tony Arnold, Daniel Druckman, Curtis Macomber, Susan Narucki, Fred Sherry, Richard Stoltzman, and Yehudi Wyner (FAAR’56, RAAR’91). Plus there’s a lavish 64-page booklet that includes expert essays, biographical sketches, and all the texts set by the composers.

At the NYC event there will be a performance of several songs from the CD by collection curator Donald Berman on piano, with soprano Tony Arnold.

But this evening is not only about the release of the CD. It’s also a big celebration of the Rome Prize Fellowship in Musical Composition. All composer Fellows have been invited to contribute CDs of their work to be sold at the Fair. Proceeds from the sales will benefit music at the Academy.

A large number of Fellows, Residents, Affiliates in all fields—as well as Trustees and friends—are expected at the CD Fair. Martin Brody, who is the current Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the AAR, and Academy Director Carmela Franklin will also be in attendance, visiting from Rome.

This event starts at 6 PM on Thursday 13 November, at the Academy’s New York offices at 7 East 60th Street. RSVPs (by 7 November) can be sent via, or by voice to 212.751.7200 ext 29.

There’s an awful lot more after the jump…

Here’s just one indicator that the story of the Academy is to a large extent also the story of American musical composition. It’s now 23 times that the Pulitzer Prize for Music (first awarded in 1943) has come to a composer with an American Academy in Rome affiliation—including six of the last eight recipients. By Pulitzer date:

2008 David Lang (FAAR’91)
2006 Yehudi Wyner (FAAR’56, RAAR’91)
2005 Steven Stucky (RAAR’06)
2004 Paul Moravec (FAAR’85)
2003 John Adams (RAAR’88)
2001 John Corigliano (RAAR’08)
1987 John Harbison (RAAR’81)
1984 Bernard Rands (RAAR’07)
1983 Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (RAAR’90)
1982 Roger Sessions (FAAR’31)
1980 David Del Tredici (RAAR’85)
1976 Ned Rorem (RAAR’03)
1973 Elliott Carter (FAAR’54, RAAR’63,’69,’80)
1972 Jacob Druckman (RAAR’82)
1970 Charles Wuorinen (RAAR’91)
1967 Leon Kirchner (RAAR’74)
1963 Samuel Barber (FAAR’37, RAAR’47)
1960 Elliott Carter (FAAR’54, RAAR’63,’69,’80)
1958 Samuel Barber (FAAR’37, RAAR’47)
1952 Gail T. Kubik (FAAR’52)
1946 Leo Sowerby (FAAR’24)
1945 Aaron Copland (RAAR’51)
1944 Howard Harold Hanson (FAAR’24)

Richard Oppel, Pulitzer Board co-chair, presents the 2008 Prize in Music to David Lang (FAAR’91)

As for the Bridge Records CD set….that has its origin in a concert series “Americans in Rome” that debuted at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in the fall of 2002. Donald Berman programmed that unusually ambitious series, together with Academy composers John Harbison (RAAR’81), Robert Beaser (FAAR’78), Kathryn Alexander (FAAR’89) and Paul Moravec (FAAR’85).

Over the course of four evenings that October and November, 26 musicians performed the works of 36 American composers. “For the concert series,” The New York Times reported at the time, “Mr. Berman tried to select works that reflect the influence of Rome yet affirm qualities that could be deemed ‘American.’ What might those be? Among the common traits, Mr. Berman suggested, are ”freshness, inventiveness, rhythmic vigor, an eclectic point of view.”

Here is the roster of composers whose work appears on the Bridge Records Americans in Rome: Music by Fellows of the American Academy in Rome CD set:

Samuel Barber (FAAR’37, RAAR’47), Robert Beaser (FAAR’78), Jack Beeson (FAAR’50, RAAR’66), Derek Bermel (FAAR’02), Martin Bresnick (FAAR’76, RAAR’00), Elliott Carter (FAAR’54, RAAR’63,’69, 80), Tamar Diesendruck (FAAR’84), Lukas Foss (FAAR’52, RAAR’78), Vittorio Giannini (FAAR’36), Howard Hanson (FAAR’24), Stephen Hartke (FAAR’92), Walter Helfer (FAAR’28), Lee Hyla (FAAR’91, RAAR’05), Andrew Imbrie (FAAR’49, RAAR’68), Kamran Ince (FAAR’88), Hunter Johnson (FAAR’35), Aaron Jay Kernis (FAAR’85), Bun-Ching Lam (FAAR’92), David Lang (FAAR’91), Billy Jim Layton (FAAR’57), John Anthony Lennon (FAAR’81), Arthur Levering (FAAR’97), Scott Lindroth (FAAR’86), James Mobberley (FAAR’90), Paul Moravec (FAAR’85), Charles Naginski (FAAR’40), David Rakowski (FAAR’96), George Rochberg (FAAR’51), Loren Rush (FAAR’71), Roger Sessions (FAAR’31), Harold Shapero (FAAR’51, RAAR’71), Leo Sowerby (FAAR’24), Alexander Lang Steinert (FAAR’30), Randall Thompson (FAAR’25, RAAR’52), Mark Wingate (FAAR’99), Yehudi Wyner (FAAR’56, RAAR’91)

You can listen to John Anthony Lennon’s “Sirens” from the CD here (sample #39).

And if you can’t make it to the 13 November event, you can buy the Bridge Records set here and here.

casarusticaThe AAR from outer space, with the Casa Rustica—which houses composers’ studios—at bottom left center


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