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George Crumb’s haunting American Songbooks is paired with Tan Dun’s visceral remembrance of the Tiananmen Square conflict.
Both pieces contain sound worlds that redefine the parameters of chamber music with shocking intensity.
Winds of Destiny (American Songbook IV) for Singer, Percussion Quartet, and Amplified Piano(2004)
Tan Dun(b. 1957)
Elegy: Snow in June for Cello and Percussion Quartet(1991)
Joining a rare natural warmth with a fierce commitment to the transforming communicative power of music, Dawn Upshaw has achieved worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today. Her ability to reach to the heart of music and text has earned her both the devotion of an exceptionally diverse audience, and the awards and distinctions accorded to only the most distinguished of artists. In 2007, she was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, the first vocal artist to be awarded the five-year “genius” prize, and in 2008 she was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Her acclaimed performances on the opera stage comprise the great Mozart roles (Susanna, Ilia, Pamina, Despina, and Zerlina) as well as modern works by Stravinsky, Poulenc, and Messiaen. From Salzburg, Paris, and Glyndebourne to the Metropolitan Opera, where she began her career in 1984 and has since made nearly 300 appearances, Dawn Upshaw has also championed numerous new works created for her including The Great Gatsby by John Harbison; the Grawemeyer Award-winning opera L’Amour de Loin and oratorio La Passion de Simone by Kaija Saariaho; John Adams’s Nativity oratorio El Niño; and Osvaldo Golijov’s chamber opera Ainadama and song cycle Ayre.
She is a favored partner of many leading musicians, including Gilbert Kalish, the Kronos Quartet, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. In her work as a recitalist, and particularly in her work with composers, Dawn Upshaw has become a generative force in concert music, having premiered more than 25 works in the past decade. From Carnegie Hall to large and small venues throughout the world she regularly presents specially designed programs composed of lieder, contemporary works in many languages, and folk and popular music. She furthers this work in master classes and workshops with young singers at major music festivals, conservatories, and liberal arts colleges. She is the Head of the Vocal Arts Program at the Tanglewood Music Center and was the founding Artistic Director of the Vocal Arts Program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music.
A five-time Grammy Award–winner, she is featured on more than 50 recordings, including the million-selling Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Gorecki for Nonesuch Records. Her discography also includes full-length opera recordings of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro; Messiaen’s St. Francois d’Assise; Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; John Adams’s El Niño; two volumes of Canteloube’s “Songs of the Auvergne,” a dozen recital recordings, and an acclaimed three-disc series of Osvaldo Golijov’s music for Deutsche Grammophon. She received the 2014 Best Classical Vocal Solo Grammy for Maria Schneider’s Winter Morning Walks on the ArtistShare Label.
She holds honorary doctorate degrees from Yale, the Manhattan School of Music, the Juilliard School, Allegheny College, and Illinois Wesleyan University. She began her career as a 1984 winner of the Young Concert Artists Auditions and the 1985 Walter W. Naumburg Competition, and was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Young Artists Development Program.
Upshaw has recorded extensively for the Nonesuch label. She may also be heard on Angel/EMI, BMG, Deutsche Grammophon, London, Sony Classical, Telarc, and on Erato and Teldec in the Warner Classics Family of labels.
The profound influence of pianist Gilbert Kalish as an educator and pianist in myriad performances and recordings has established him as a major figure in American music-making. This season he appears with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, performs at the Ojai Music Festival, and holds a residency at the San Francisco Conservatory. In 2006 he was awarded the Peabody Medal by the Peabody Conservatory for his outstanding contributions to music in America. He was the pianist of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players for 30 years, and was a founding member of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, a group that flourished during the 1960s and 70s in support of new music. He is particularly known for his partnership of many years with mezzo-soprano Jan DeGaetani, as well as for current collaborations with soprano Dawn Upshaw and cellists Timothy Eddy and Joel Krosnik. As an educator and performer he has appeared at the Banff Centre, the Steans Institute at Ravinia, the Marlboro Music Festival, and Music@Menlo; from 1985 to 1997 he served as chairman of the Tanglewood faculty. His discography of some 100 recordings embraces both the classical and contemporary repertories; of special note are those made with Ms. DeGaetani and that of Ives' Concord Sonata. A distinguished professor at SUNY Stony Brook, Mr. Kalish has been an Artist of The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 2006.
Alisa Weilerstein is one of the foremost cellists of our time. Since making her professional and Carnegie Hall debuts in her early teens, she has been in high demand as a solo recitalist, cham-ber musician, and concerto soloist with leading orchestras worldwide. She was recognized with a MacArthur Fellowship in 2011. An authority on Bach’s music for unaccompanied cello, she re-leased a best-selling recording of his solo suites on the Pentatone label in 2020, streamed them in her innovative #36DaysOfBach project, and deconstructed his beloved G-major prelude in a Vox video. Her discography also includes chart-topping albums and a winner of BBC Music’s “Recording of the Year” award. As Artistic Partner of the Trondheim Soloists, she regularly tours and records with the Norwegian orchestra. She is an ardent advocate of contemporary music, and has premiered and championed important new works by composers including Pascal Dusa-pin, Osvaldo Golijov, and Matthias Pintscher. Other career milestones include a performance at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at nine years old, Weilerstein is a staunch advocate for the T1D community. She lives with her husband, Ven-ezuelan conductor Rafael Payare, and their young child.
Described as “exhilarating” (The New York Times) and “utterly mesmerizing” (The Guardian), Grammy-nominated ensemble Sandbox Percussion brings out the best in composers through their unwavering dedication to artistry in contemporary chamber music. Sandbox Percussion captivates audiences with performances that are both visually and aurally stunning, solidifying them as leaders in the fields of contemporary music and percussion. Brought together by their love of chamber music and the simple joy of playing together, Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, Ian Rosenbaum, and Terry Sweeney engage a wider audience for classical music through multidisciplinary collaborations with today’s leading artists.
Sandbox Percussion’s 2021 album Seven Pillars was nominated for two Grammy awards—Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance and Best Contemporary Classical Composition. Andy Akiho’s evening-length work with stage direction and lighting design by Michael Joseph McQuilken is Sandbox Percussion’s largest commission to date. In addition to the album, Sandbox Percussion commissioned 11 films that accompany each movement of the work.
Sandbox Percussion performed Seven Pillars over 15 times in the 2022–23 season, with sold-out stops throughout the United States and Europe. In October, Sandbox Percussion performed the work live with the LA Dance Project and choreographer Benjamin Millepied at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Additional season highlights include upcoming performances of Viet Cuong’s Re(new)al with the Pacific Symphony and with the American Composer’s Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. This season, Sandbox Percussion will release two albums, featuring the music of composers Matt McBane and Jerome Begin.
In addition to maintaining an international performance schedule, Sandbox Percussion holds the position of ensemble-in-residence and percussion faculty at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and The New School’s College of Performing Arts, where they have created a curriculum with entrepreneurship and chamber music at its core. Sandbox Percussion has led masterclasses and coachings at prestigious music schools in the United States, including Curtis Institute, the Juilliard School, the Peabody Conservatory, and Cornell University. In 2016, Sandbox Percussion founded the annual NYU Sandbox Percussion Seminar, a week-long seminar that invites percussion students from around the globe to rehearse and perform today’s leading percussion chamber music repertoire.
In 2022, Sandbox Percussion launched their Creator Mentorship Program, a commissioning program that solicits proposals from early-career creators around the world. The selected creators are commissioned to create a new work for Sandbox Percussion, and given time, space, and funding for a year-long workshop and development period.
In 2020, Sandbox Percussion released their debut album And That One Too on Coviello Classics. The album features works by longtime collaborators Andy Akiho, David Crowell, Amy Beth Kirsten, and Thomas Kotcheff.