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Pianists Association Commissions Women Composers

February 19, 2013

The American Pianists Association has commissioned works for solo piano from five women composers – Lisa Bielawa (see previous item), Margaret Brouwer, Gabriela Lena Frank, Missy Mazzoli, and Sarah Kirkland Snider. The works will be given their premieres in Indianapolis on April 15 by the five finalists for the APA’s 2013 ProLiance Energy Classical Fellowship Awards.

The finalists — Sean Chen, Sara Daneshpour, Claire Huangci, Andrew Staupe, and Eric Zuber — will perform the APA-commissioned works during the New Music Recital as part of the APA’s Discovery Week, the culmination of a year-long competition for a prize of more than $100,000.

On April 20, one finalist will be named the APA’s 2013 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow, a musician with the potential to make significant contributions to American cultural life. New York City’s historic Trinity Church will present the APA’s newly selected winner and the four laureates in its Concerts at One series on April 25, when the five pianists will give the New York premieres of the five new APA-commissioned solo piano works.

"Leading the APA," says Joel Harrison, president-CEO and artistic director of the organization, "I want to foster more new American music for these American pianists to play. For this particular occasion, we‘re fortunate to have a very generous grant from The Sorel Charitable Organization.

"In our discussions with the leadership at Sorel — whose mission is to support female musicians — we decided to have a round of commissions for women composers. They’re all Americans, and to some extent, I leaned in the direction of the younger generation. Other than the charge to write pieces for solo piano of 5-7 minutes in length, I gave the composers no restrictions and no limitations on compositional style. The pieces I’ve had the pleasure to look at so far are fascinating and I’m thrilled. They’re exciting works."

Bielawa's work, Vireo Canons and Chorale, is described by the composer as stemming from the "fierce energy I felt in my early 20s when I was just discovering that I was actually a composer. Like Prokofiev in his Third Piano Sonata, I went back to old notebooks from that time and found my drafts for a massively ambitious full-length opera entitled Vireo. I took a few fragments of material from these notebooks and created multiple canons and an expansive chorale from it — the piece is both a dialogue with my earlier self and a celebratory embrace of a new generation of musicians."

Janos Gereben appreciates news tips, corrections, and words of encouragement at [email protected].