The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), the nation's leading orchestra dedicated exclusively to performing, commissioning, and recording new music, pays homage to the influential yet largely unknown music by Armenian-American 20th-century composer Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) at Jordan Hall (30 Gainsborough Street), Friday, May 23rd @ 8:00pm. While showcasing Hovhaness's Exile Symphony along with his Three Armenian Rhapsodies, the program premieres two BMOP-commissioned works by Armenian composers: Vache Sharafyan's Sinfonia No. 2 Un Poco Concertante; and Tigran Mansurian's Three Arias: Sung Out the Window Facing Mount Ararat featuring Grammy-nominated violist Kim Kashkashian.
In harmony with BMOP's new 20th-Century Classics program, this concert is dedicated to reviving and preserving American orchestral music. "BMOP looks to publicly recognize Alan Hovhaness and encourage his increased presence in the collective memory as a serious and important 20th-century composer," explains Gil Rose, Artistic Director/Conductor of BMOP. Thanks to the support of an American Express Cultural Heritage grant, this concert marks the first arm of a multi-year project in preparation for the centennial celebration of Hovhaness's birth in 2011.
Hovhaness was among the most prolific composers of the 20th century, composing 67 symphonies and more than 400 opus numbers. Often described as having a religious, mystic, and vocal feel, Hovhaness's music reflects a love of Western counterpoint and his personal fascination with Indian, East Asian, and Armenian music. His humanity shines through in his first acknowledged symphony, Exile (No. 1) in which he addresses the 1930s persecution of Armenians by the Turks. Performed by the BBC Symphony in London in 1939, he made a favorable impression with the orchestra's principal conductor, Leslie Heward. He considered Hovhaness's music to be "powerful, virile, and musically very solid... he is a genius." BMOP will also deliver Hovhaness's music from 1943-1951, his "Armenian period." In 1944, he began composing works with Armenian titles or subject matters, including the Three Armenian Rhapsodies; each employing Armenian modes and quoting Armenian folk melodies.
In honor of Hovhaness, BMOP has commissioned two new works by prolific Armenian composers. Vache Sharafyan, an official composer for the renowned Silk Road Project and teacher at Yerevan Stage Conservatory in Armenia, brings together Western and Eastern traditions in the world premiere of Sinfonia No. 2 Un Poco Concertante. For orchestra with pre-recorded duduk (a traditional Armenian wind instrument), Sinfonia No. 2 is a reflection of Sharafyan's hopeful view that both cultures are able to coexist "in mutual understanding and even admiration."
Lebanese-born Armenian Tigran Mansurian has become one of the world's leading composers of mostly orchestral, chamber, choral, and vocal works. BMOP's world premiere of his latest work Three Arias: Sung Out the Window Facing Mount Ararat features guest violist Kim Kashkashian, a fellow Armenian who has established a strong creative relationship with Mansurian over the past 15 years. Three Arias demonstrates the simultaneously yearning and meditative qualities of Mansurian's music, with highly expressive, flexible, and singing lines for the soloist. Mansurian's musical style is characterized mainly by the organic synthesis of ancient Armenian musical traditions and contemporary European composition methods.
About Alan Hovhaness
Hovhaness, born in Somerville, MA and educated at Tufts University and the New England Conservatory, ranks among the most intriguing figures in 20th century classical music. He was one of the most recorded and lauded American composers in the 1950s and 1960s, but there is a dearth of serious commentary on Hovhaness despite a wealth of radical individuality in some phases of his six decades of creativity. This is surprising given that in the 1940s and 1950s he was firmly entrenched with a maverick group of composers (Henry Cowell, John Cage, and Lou Harrison) who spearheaded one of the great shifts in 20th century American music, namely that of looking to non-Western cultures for creative renewal in art music. Hovhaness's music is accessible to the lay listener and often evokes a mood of mystery and contemplation. Music critic Richard Buell, of The Boston Globe wrote: "Although he has been stereotyped as a self-consciously Armenian composer (rather as Ernest Bloch is seen as a Jewish composer), his output assimilates the music of many cultures. What may be most American about all of it is the way it turns its materials into a kind exoticism. The atmosphere is hushed, reverential, mystical, nostalgic."
About Guest Artist Kim Kashkashian
Violist Kim Kashkashian has established herself as one of the most accomplished artists of her generation. Inspiring world-wide critical acclaim, she has been hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as "an artist who combines a probing, restless musical intellect with enormous beauty of tone." The New York Times has joined in these accolades, praising her "rich, mellow timbre and impressive artistry." In recent seasons, Kashkashian has appeared as a soloist with the major orchestras of New York, Berlin, London, Munich, and Tokyo. Her recital appearances take her to Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Los Angeles. Kashkashian has made guest appearances with the Tokyo, Guarneri, and Galimir Quartets and toured with a unique quartet which included violinists Gidon Kremer and Daniel Phillips and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In September 2000, she began teaching viola and chamber music at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Born in Detroit, Michigan, of Armenian descent, Kashkashian graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of Music where she studied with Walter Trampler and Karen Tuttle. Highlights of upcoming seasons include world premieres of the Betty Olivero viola concerto, the Bartók concerto with Stockholm, Seoul, Tai Pei, Hamburg, and Cleveland orchestras, as well as the premiere of the Steinberg-Ueno theatre project.
About The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP)
BMOP has had an outstanding reputation amongst Boston's most innovative and performing arts organizations for attracting multi-generational audiences and providing thematic, diversified programming and a national reputation for performing and recording new orchestral music at the highest level. Founded in 1996 by Artistic Director Gil Rose, BMOP strives to illuminate the connections that exist between both contemporary music and society by reuniting composers and audiences in a shared concert experience. The 2007-2008 BMOP season offered no fewer than 11 world premieres. In addition, BMOP recently launched its signature recording label BMOP/sound. New CDs are being released on a monthly basis starting with the March 2008 release of John Harbison: Ulyssess. In just 11 years, BMOP has received nine ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming of Orchestral Music, including the 2006-2007 ASCAP Award for Programming of Contemporary Music and the 2006 American Symphony Orchestra League's John S. Edwards Award for Strongest Commitment to New American Music.
FREE preconcert talk @ 7:00pm.
Tickets range from $10-$48. Students 50% discount. Seniors 10% discount.
For tickets, call BMOP at 617.363.0396 or visit www.bmop.org.
Tickets are also available for sale at the Jordan Hall Box Office three weeks before the concert and at the door, subject to availability.