D.M.A., Columbia University, 1988
Robert Weiss Professor of Music
When honoring him with its Goddard Lieberson Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters noted that "A rare economy of means and a strain of religious mysticism distinguish the music of James Primosch... Through articulate, transparent textures, he creates a wide range of musical emotion." Andrew Porter stated in The New Yorker that Primosch "scores with a sure, light hand" and critics for the New York Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Dallas Morning News have characterized his music as "impressive", "striking", "grandly romantic", "stunning" and "very approachable".
Primosch’s compositional voice encompasses a broad range of expressive types. His music can be intensely lyrical, as in the song cycle Holy the Firm (composed for Dawn Upshaw) or dazzlingly angular as in Secret Geometry for piano and electronic sound. His affection for jazz is reflected in works like the Piano Quintet, while his work as a church musician informs the many pieces in his catalog based on sacred songs or religious texts.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1956, James Primosch studied at Cleveland State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University. He counts Mario Davidovsky, George Crumb and Richard Wernick among his principal teachers.
Primosch's instrumental, vocal, and electronic works have been performed throughout the United States and in Europe by such ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Collage, the New York New Music Ensemble, and the Twentieth Century Consort. His Icons was played at the ISCM/League of Composers World Music Days in Hong Kong, and Dawn Upshaw included a song by Primosch in her Carnegie Hall recital debut. Commissioned works by Primosch have been premiered by the Chicago Symphony, Speculum Musicae, the Cantata Singers, and pianist Lambert Orkis. A second Chicago Symphony commission will be premiered in October, 2009. He is currently at work on a commission for the Albany Symphony.
Among the honors he has received are a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two prizes from the American Academy-Institute of Arts and Letters, a Regional Artists Fellowship to the American Academy in Rome, a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, the Stoeger Prize of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and a fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center where he studied with John Harbison. Organizations commissioning Primosch include the Koussevitzky and Fromm Foundations, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the Folger Consort, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Barlow Endowment, and the Network for New Music. In 1994 he served as composer-in-residence at the Marlboro Music Festival. Recordings of eleven compositions by Primosch have appeared on the Albany, Azica, Bard, Bridge, CRI, Centaur, and New World labels, with new discs of vocal and choral works planned.
As a pianist, James Primosch has been particularly active in performing 20th century and contemporary music, including works by Ives, Schoenberg, Bartok, Messiaen, Copland, Berio, Ligeti, Andriessen, Schat, Serocki, Crumb, Rochberg, Davidovsky, Perle, Martino and Harbison, as well as many younger composers. The New York Times characterized James Primosch as a "stylish and very successful performer", while the Philadelphia Inquirer called him "adept and daring". Primosch was a prizewinner at the 1977 Gaudeamus Competition for Interpreters of Contemporary Music, held at Rotterdam, and was subsequently heard on Dutch radio. Among other performances, Primosch has often appeared with soprano Christine Schadeberg in recital, and has played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Painted Bride Art Center, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Spoleto USA Festival and numerous colleges and conservatories. Primosch has played with such ensembles as the Cavani, Cassatt and Miami Quartets, the 20th Century Consort, the Penn Contemporary Players, and may be heard on recordings for New World, CRI, Crystal, and Innova. In February of 2000 he made his Lincoln Center debut, performing his own Piano Quintet with the Miami Quartet on a Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center concert. In the fall of 2007 he appeared at the Trondheim Chamber Music Festival in Norway. His widely varied performing experiences have included work as a jazz pianist and a liturgical musician.
In 1988, he began an appointment to the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he directs the Presser Electronic Music Studio. 8/12/09
link to James Primosch's page
A.M., University of Pennsylvania, 1975
Professor of Music, Director of Undergraduate Study and Chair of the Music Department
Jay Reise is the composer of the opera Rasputin which was commissioned by the late Beverly Sills and premiered by the New York City Opera in 1988. It was described in The Washington Times as "a spellbinding, challenging and profoundly beautiful creation." Rasputin was given its highly successful Russian premiere in Moscow by the Helikon Opera in September 2008 and is now in the ongoing Helikon repertory. Rasputin received its Paris premiere in 2010 and is scheduled for the Saaremaa Festival, Estonia in 2012.
Reise's tone poem The Selfish Giant, based on Oscar Wilde's fairy tale was commissioned and premiered by the Philharmonia Orchestra in London in 1997. Other important works include The River Within (Concerto for Violin and Orchestra) premiered and recorded by Maria Bachmann and Orchestra 2001, (CD named a "Best of 2011" by Audiophile Audition); the Concerto for Horn and 7 Instruments, commissioned and premiered by the Network for New Music and Adam Unsworth; the piano quintet Powers That Be, commissioned by the Barlow Foundation and premiered by the Cassatt Quartet and Marc-André Hamelin.
The music of Jay Reise has been performed widely both in the United States and abroad including an all-Reise retrospective concert in Moscow in 2000. He has been a recipient of the US-Japan Creative Arts Fellowship and has served as president of Orchestra 2001 and as the Director of Contemporary Music at the Grand Teton Music Festival. Gary Graffman included Reise's elaborated left-hand transcription of Scriabin's Etude Op. 2 No. 1 in his international tour 2008-09.
Deeply influenced by Carnatic (South Indian) music and jazz (Jimmy Giuffre and George Russell), Reise works with an approach he calls "rhythmic polyphony" in which rhythmic motives are developed within the phrase such that the cadence point is implied by the rhythms alone. This technique has been a part of his music since 1990.
Among his recordings are the chamber concerto Chesapeake Rhythms and Concerto for Cello and 13 Instruments (CRI). The Devil in the Flesh and Other Pieces (Albany) features pianist Marc-André Hamelin and Rhythmic Garlands (Centaur) includes performances by Gregory Fulkerson and Jerome Lowenthal.
Jay Reise's articles have appeared in Opera News, Nineteenth-Century Music, Perspectives of New Music and several volumes of essays. His music is published by Merion Music.
The March-April 2012 issue of Fanfare Magazine contains an extensive interview with Reise.
link to Jay Reise's webpage & soundclips
D.M.A., Cornell University, 1995
Professor of Music
Recipient of a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2008 ‘Academy Award’ from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Anna Weesner has received many other awards, including a 2006 Award for Excellence in the Arts by the Virginia Center and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts (2003). She has been in residence at the MacDowell Colony, the Wellesley Composers Conference, the Seal Bay Festival, and at Fondation Royaumont in France. Her music has been recorded on CRI and Albany Records.
Anna Weesner’s music has been described as “animated and full of surprising turns” (New York Times, Oct. 10, 2003), as “a haunting conspiracy” (Philadelphia Inquirer, April 24, 2001) and cited as demonstrating “an ability to make complex textures out of simple devices” (San Francisco Classical Voice, March 27, 2001). John Harbison has written that “none of it proceeds in obvious ways. Her vocabulary is subtle and rather elusive; the effect is paradoxically confident and decisive.”
Weesner’s music has been performed by leading ensembles and soloists, including the American Composers Orchestra, the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, Metamorphosen, Dawn Upshaw, Richard Goode, Gilbert Kalish, Judith Kellock, Mary Nessinger, Jeanne Golan, Scott Kluksdahl, Adrienne Kim, the Cassatt Quartet, the Cypress Quartet, Network for New Music, Ensemble X, Counter)induction, and Orchestra 2001. Her orchestral music has been featured in readings by the Indianapolis Symphony and the American Composers Orchestra. She has been commissioned by Open End, violist Melia Watras, Network for New Music, the MATA festival, the Cypress Quartet, Dawn Upshaw, Sequitur and Orchestra 2001, among others.
In 2012, the New York Virtuoso Singers with conductor Harold Rosenbaum will premiere her choral work, Snapshot of a Teenaged Moment When Everything Began. Born in Iowa City, Iowa in 1965, Weesner grew up in New Hampshire. She currently lives in Philadelphia, where she is Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania.