Akemi Naito is a composer based in New York City. Born in Tokyo, she studied composition at the University Division of the Toho Gakuen School of Music and was a member of the school’s faculty from 1980 to 1991. Following her earlier activity as a composer in Tokyo, she received a grant from the Asian Cultural Council that enabled her to move to New York City in 1991.

 

Naito’s works have been featured in music festivals around the world, including The Second Aoyama Jikken Kobo (Experimental Workshop) at the Tessenkai Noh Theater in Tokyo; Clásicos en Verano in Madrid; Fribourg International Festival of Sacred Music; Music Festival Valendas in Switzerland; Mersin International Music Festival in Turkey; International Bayan Festival in Moscow; International Congress of Percussion in Poland; a number of times at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC); Gaudeamus Music Festival in Amsterdam; Melbourne Festival; Musica Scienza Roma; Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival; Japan Society Spring Festival and Music from Japan Festival in New York City; Foro Internacional de Música Nueva in Mexico; and Music Today International Festival in Tokyo. Her marimba piece, Memory of the Woods, which was written for William Moersch in 2000, has received numerous performances both in the United States and internationally.

 

Naito is a recipient of awards and grants from organizations including the Composer Assistance Program of the American Music Center (currently called New Music USA); the Recording Program of the Aaron Copland Fund for Music for her album in conjunction with Cygnus Ensemble; the Bellagio residency from the Rockefeller Foundation; Chamber Music America; the New York Foundation for the Arts; ASCAP Standard Awards; Meet the Composer Fund; the first Aaron Copland Award from the Copland House residence; and resident fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, and Millay Colony for the Arts.

 

Her recent work, Emily Brontë – Through Life and Death, A Chainless Soul, a poetic mono-opera based on selected poems by Emily Brontë, was premiered at the Tenri Gallery of Tenri Cultural Institute in New York City in January 2018. Opera Wire acclaimed the production, describing it as “A Fitting Celebration of Brontë’s Genius” and “a wonderful example of the beauty that can be found when words mingle with music, each giving the other new life and meaning.”

 

Her album Mindscape was released by Bridge Records in 2006 and Strings & Time was released by CRI in 1997. In addition, her compositions can be heard on Toshiba EMI, ALM, URTEXT, New Focus Recordings, and Camerata Tokyo. Her works have been published by HoneyRock in the United States, AUGEMUS in Germany, and SONIC ARTS in Japan. www.akeminaito.com

 

Photo © Michael Dames 2017

 

 

Jessica Bowers has performed with Utah Opera, Anchorage Opera, Opera Boston, Central City Opera, and Ohio Light Opera. Roles include Rosina in The Barber of Seville, Hansel in Hansel and Gretel, The Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music, Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffmann, and The Queen in John Harbison’s A Full Moon in March. Recently she has performed with Cygnus Ensemble, Taconic Music, Poetica Musica, L’Artiste Ordinaire, Dali Quartet, Composers Concordance, and Satori Ensemble. Most frequently, she plays with guitarist Oren Fader as The Bowers Fader Duo, which produces the annual concert series “New American Art Songs for Mezzo and Guitar,” performed three times each year in New York City. Their debut album, Between Us All, was recently released on the Naxos label through New Focus Recordings. For more information, please visit

www.jessicabowers.net

 

Photo © Cyjo Photography

 

 

Marilyn Nonken his recognized as “one of the greatest interpreters of new music” (American Record Guide). Her nearly 30 releases include Tristan Murail: Complete Piano Music, Voix Voilées: Spectral Music for Piano, and Morton Feldman: Triadic Memories. She records for Metier, New World, Mode, Lovely Music, Albany, Divine Art, Hanging Bell, Harrison House, Innova, CRI, BMOP Sound, New Focus, Kairos, Ravello, Tzadik, and Bridge. Composers who have written for her include Richard Carrick, Jason Eckardt, Michael Finnissy, Michael Kuehn, Tristan Murail, Christopher Trapani, and Nina C. Young. She is also known for her writings on music, which include The Spectral Piano: From Liszt, Scriabin and Debussy to the Digital Age (Cambridge, 2014) and Identity and Diversity in New Music: The New Complexities (Routledge, 2019). A graduate of the Eastman School, where she studied with David Burge, she received her Ph.D. from Columbia University. Now Associate Professor of Music at New York University, Nonken is a Steinway Artist.

www.marilynnonken.com

 

Photo © Ventiko

 

 

Born in the Miyagi prefecture in Japan in 1957, Toshihiro Sakuma completed graduate school at the Tokyo University of the Arts, receiving his M.F.A. in 1982.

 

Sakuma started a quiet installation art series called “healing” in 1993. He regarded exquisitely dimmed light bulbs’ ON/OFF as the ON/OFF of life. He placed them in items used in daily living such as old furniture, futons, family trees, and vinyl houses, meant to remind viewers of the chain and disconnection of life.

 

In 1998, Sakuma started a series called “colony” that switched light bulbs to people’s names, pouring a huge number of people’s names into books, nameplate boards, old televisions, gauze, etc. and visualizing the relationship between the individuals and the aggregate. He aimed to create a virtual space that recalled the absence of human beings.

 

In the series called “Adhesion/Replacement” that started in 2003, Sakuma collected countless images and movies from prints, TVs, and websites, superimposed them as “once existed” spiritual images, processed them, and constructed a video/photo installation works.

 

 

Gregory Beyer: Fulbright Scholar, composer, educator, and “prodigiously talented percussionist” (Chicago Classical Review), Gregory Beyer is a contemporary music specialist who blends the disciplines of orchestral, jazz, and world music into a singular artistic voice. He is Artistic Director of Arcomusical, an organization dedicated to the Afro-Brazilian berimbau. Arcomusical released its first album, MeiaMeia, in 2016 on Innova Recordings and has subsequently appeared on WNYC, WBEZ, and NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. Arcomusical received a 2016 Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Grant to create the 20-minute, four-movement “Roda” with composer Elliot Cole. “Roda” has received over two dozen performances and most recently was performed as a concerto with the Arizona State University Symphony Orchestra as “Roda Grande.” In March 2019 on National Sawdust Tracks, Arcomusical released its second album, Spinning in the Wheel.

 

Beyer is Director of Percussion Studies at Northern Illinois University and is a core member of two Chicago-based new music ensembles: Dal Niente and the CCCC’s Grossman Ensemble.

 

Photo © Percussive Arts Society International Convention 2017

 

The University of Illinois Chamber Singers is the premiere choral ensemble at the University, comprised of experienced and outstanding singers from across the entire student body. The ensemble, conducted by Dr. Andrew Megill, explores a broad range of choral music, from Medieval chant to newly commissioned works, while demonstrating the highest level of musical excellence. Performances in past seasons have included collaborations with Bang on a Can All Stars, Venice Baroque Orchestra, Champaign Urbana Symphony Orchestra, Urbana 415, and a performance tour of Vienna and Budapest with the Anton Webern Chor of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. The Chamber Singers share a passion for enriching the lives of their audiences and the University community, regularly reaching out to connect with public school programs and concert series across the state.

 

soprano Lauren Falk, Elizabeth Gartman, Kirsten Hedegaard, Berit Johnson, Jessica Ragsdale, Katherine Stenzel, Grace Thompson, Lydia Walsh-Rock, Maggie Wolfe

 

alto Sadie Cheslak, Carolee Fairbanks, Olivia Gronenthal, Sofia Imbimbo, Kathy Kew Lee, Cami Philgreen, Geoffrey Williams, Michaela Wright

 

tenor Jon Arnold, Christopher Mason, Connor Pils, Long Tao Tang, Simon Tiffin, Andrew Turner, Mark Woodcock

 

bass Michael Brand, Jonathan Cortez, Scott Cuva, Scott Knier, Nic Koch, Kevin Lucas, Geoffrey Schmelzer

 

Photo © Aaron Godwin

 

 

Andrew Megill is recognized as one of the leading choral conductors of his generation. He currently teaches at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and conducts three of North America’s finest professional vocal ensembles: the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Chorus, the Carmel Bach Festival Chorale, and Fuma Sacra. His performances have been praised for their “power, subtlety, and nuance” and “profound spirituality” (Le Devoir, Montreal), and have been described as “piercing the heart like a frozen knife” (Monterey Herald) and “leaving the audience gasping in amazement” (Classical NJ).

 

Megill frequently collaborates with the world’s leading orchestras. He has prepared choirs for the American Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonie, Montreal Symphony, National Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic for conductors including Boulez, Dutoit, Flummerfelt, Frühbeck du Burgos, Gilbert, Glover, Neeme Järvi, Masur, Mehta, Nagano, Nelson, and Julius Rudel. An accomplished orchestral conductor, he has led the Montreal Symphony, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Carmel Bach Festival Orchestra, and I Musici de Montréal as well as the Bang on a Can All-Stars.

William Moersch is Professor and Chair of Percussion at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Internationally renowned as a marimba virtuoso, chamber and symphonic percussionist, recording artist, and educator, he has appeared as soloist with orchestras and in recital throughout North and South America, Europe, the Far East, and Australia. A regularly featured artist at international percussion festivals, Moersch has performed on more than 70 recordings and is perhaps best known for commissioning much of the prominent modern repertoire for marimba. He has been honored by National Endowment for the Arts Recording and Consortium Commissioning grants and was the first marimbist to receive an N.E.A. Solo Recitalist Fellowship. Currently, he is Principal Timpanist of Sinfonia da Camera and the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of New Music Marimba, and an Artist Endorser for Pearl / Adams Percussion, SABIAN cymbals, Grover Pro Percussion, and Innovative Percussion mallets.

 

photo © University of Illinois School of Music

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