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Portrait of Dániel Péter Biró: Ethica

Americas Society

May 4, 2018
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(Image: Linda Sheldon)

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Music of the Americas presents a portrait concert of Canadian composer Dániel Péter Biró, featuring the U.S. premiere of his cycle Ethica for voices, ensemble, and electronics, which expands upon the research he conducted as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and as a Guggenheim Fellow. The program will also include his 2011 piece HaDavar (The Word) for countertenor, piano, and electronics and Lizkor Velishkoach (To Remember and to Forget) from 2001/2017 for string quartet. The concert will be performed by Schola Heidelberg and ensemble aisthesis, who frequently perform Biró's work.

Biró's Al Ken Kara, performed by Neue Vocalsolisten.

About the composer

Canadian composer Dániel Péter Biró (b. 1969) is associate professor of composition and music theory at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC, Canada. He studied in Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Israel before completing his PhD from Princeton University in 2004. His dissertation examines historical relationships between orality, memory, and notational development in Hungarian laments, Jewish Torah recitation, and early Christian plainchant. In 2011 he was visiting professor at Utrecht University, where he researched Jewish and Islamic chant as practiced in the Netherlands. Biró has been commissioned by festivals (Eclat Festival, Darmstadt International Summer Courses, Toronto New Music Concerts, Vancouver New Music), and his music has been performed internationally by such ensembles as Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Ensemble Surplus, ensemble aisthesis, Kai Wessel, the Meitar Ensemble, ensemble recherche, Neue Vocalsolisten, Talea Ensemble, and Schola Heidelberg. He has won international prizes for his work (Kodály Prize, Gigahertz Production Prize, Vocal Music Competition of the ISCM–Austria). In 2013 his composition Kivrot Hata'avah (Graves of Craving) represented Canada at the World Music Days in Vienna, Austria. In 2014–2015 he was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, where he worked on the completion of the composition cycle Mishpatim (Laws) for voices, ensemble and electronics in collaboration with Experimentalstudio. He co-edited The String Quartets of Béla Bartók: Tradition and Legacy in Analytical Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2014). In 2016–2017, he was artist-in-residence at the University of Victoria Centre for Studies in Religion and Society and was named a Guggenheim fellow in 2017.

About the ensembles

The vocal soloists of the Schola Heidelberg are equally at home with widely differing styles and vocal techniques, including microtonal intonation and vocal and respiratory noise. Under the artistic directorship of their founder Walter Nußbaum, the ensemble frequently performs works from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries alongside contemporary ones, reflecting a deep concern with historically informed practice and contemporary music. The ensemble’s extensive repertoire is the fruit of close collaboration with leading present-day composers. The ensemble frequently performs in its home city, throughout Germany, and at international festivals such the Salzburg Festival, Milano Musica, the Lucerne Festival, the Biennale in Venedig, the Biennale Salzburg and the Festival d’automne (Paris). The Schola has collaborated with Ensemble Modern, the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, the SWR Symphony Orchestra, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, and the Gürzenich Orchestra.


Ensemble aisthesis (Greek, meaning: perception, to understand with your senses) specializes in contemporary music from the twenthieth and twenty-first centuries. Under the artistic direction of founder Walter Nußbaum, the instrumentalists have built an extensive repertoire, from modern classics like Schoenberg, Webern, Boulez, Stockhausen, and Lachenmann, to forward-looking Romantic works by Wagner or Mahler. Commissions are developed in close collaboration with the composers. The ensemble performs regularly in Heidelberg and has been invited to festivals like musica viva in Munich, the Zurich Festival, the Romanische Nacht in Cologne, the Tongyeong International Music Festival in South Korea, the Kasseler Musiktage, and the Basel Music Forum.