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Perlman, Nexus, Saratoga To Introduce New Zwilich Works

Performances of works by composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich abound in any season, but as the impressive canon of her compositions grows, her music gains greater and greater currency. Take for example the beginning of 2004. In addition to hearing her symphonies, concertos, and chamber music, audiences are looking forward to the launching of at least three brand new and widely divergent pieces.

  • On February 21, violinist Itzhak Perlman, accompanied by Rohan De Silva, presents the world premiere of Episodes for violin and piano. The commission, made possible through funds by the Florida Arts Council and Ray and Nancy Murray, is a key part in the 20th anniversary celebration of Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida.


  • Memphis, Tennessee is the next port of call for Zwilich whose Clarinet Concerto will be performed by soloist David Shifrin with the Memphis Symphony under the direction of music director David Loebel on March 5. The following day will mark the world premiere of Rituals for 5 Percussionists and Orchestra featuring the renowned percussion ensemble NEXUS and the IRIS Orchestra conducted by Michael Stern.

The Toronto-based NEXUS (Bill Cahn, Bob Becker, Robin Engelman, Russell Hartenberger, and Garry Kvistad) and the composer had an unusually close collaboration during the work's genesis so that Zwilich could become personally acquainted with the look, feel, and most important, sound of the arsenal of pitched and non-pitched instruments that make up this unusual performing group. She writes that for her, "the challenge is to discover the deepest nature of the solo instrument (its 'karma,' if you will) and to allow that essential character to guide the shape and form of the work and the nature of the interaction between soloists and orchestra."

The 28-minute Rituals spans four movements entitled I. Invocation, II. Ambulation, III. Remembrances, IV. Contests. Since many percussion instruments are associated with various kinds of ritual, Zwilich decided that she would allow that concept to shape her piece.

  • It's not only horse racing that has made Saratoga among the nation's favorite entertainment draws. Set in the foothills of New York State's Adirondacks, a short drive up the Northway from Albany, the summertime Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) has attracted crowds ever since the convocation in 1966 of its gorgeous and spacious amphitheatre. Host each summer to the New York City Ballet, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival, SPAC has not only treated its listening and viewing public to all-time favorites, but has also ventured to introduce concert goers to a distinguished cross-section of contemporary composers whose works have been prominently featured during their tenure in Saratoga.

Ellen Zwilich is to be composer in residence at the 2004 season of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, with performances scheduled of her Symphony No. 3 by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Charles Dutoit as well as a number of her chamber works under the auspices of the Saratoga Chamber Music Festival. Principals of the Philadelphia Orchestra will participate in presenting her Clarinet Quintet, Piano Trio, and Sonata in Three Movements for violin and piano. A highlight of the event will be the world premiere of the Quartet for Oboe and Strings the same ensemble as the famous Mozart composition especially commissioned for the Festival.

Click here for information about Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, or, if you prefer, contact Music Associates of America, Fax: (201) 569-7023, E-mail: maasturm@sprynet.com

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