Earth Works: A Pre-Concert Talk
This conversation with young composers three days ahead of their program explored their inspirations and artistic process.
How to watch: The program will be live streamed on this page at the time of the event. No registration is required to watch.
This conversation will give the audience a chance to get to know several of the composers featured in the concert by Orchestra of St. Luke’s Earth Works: Music for our Planet, which will take place live at Americas Society on March 11.
The composers will discuss their artistic process and inspirations for their works in the upcoming concert, and reflect on their participation in the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music Composing Earth program.
Michael-Thomas Foumai is a composer of contemporary concert music, arranger, and educator whose work spans the avant-garde to the commercial. His concert music focuses on storytelling and the history, people, and culture of his Hawai'i home. Foumai's orchestral works have been conducted and performed by Yannick Nézet-Séguin with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Lina Gonzalez-Granados with the National Symphony Orchestra, George Manahan with the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and Osmo Vänskä with the Minnesota Orchestra. In 2021, the Hawai'i Symphony Orchestra presented a summer festival of his music conducted by Rei Hotoda, Lidiya Yankovskaya, Sarah Hicks, and JoAnn Falletta. In addition, he is the HSO program notes annotator for the Masterworks and summer Starlight series and arranger for guest artists. Honors for his music have included a Fromm Foundation Grant from Harvard University, the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year Award, the Jacob Druckman Prize from the Aspen Music Festival, and three BMI composer awards. Foumai is currently on faculty at the University of Hawai'i West O'ahu and holds degrees in music composition from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa (BM) and the University of Michigan (MM, DMA).
Iman Habibi is an Iranian-Canadian composer and pianist, and a founding member of the piano duo ensemble Piano Pinnacle. Hailed as “a giant in talent” (Penticton Herald), "whose technical mastery is matched by his musical and cultural literacy" (Hudson-Housatonic Arts), Habibi has been commissioned by the Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, the Orchestra of St. Luke's and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, and has been presented by Carnegie Hall, the Tanglewood Music Festival, and the Canadian Opera Company, among others. He is a 2022 laureate of the Azrieli Music Prizes, and has received multiple SOCAN Foundation Awards, the International Composers’ Award at the Esoterics’ POLYPHONOS (2012), Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Awards for Emerging Artist in Music (2011), Brehm Prize in Choral Music (2016), as well as numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, and the British Columbia and Ontario Arts Councils. Habibi received his doctorate in composition from the University of Michigan.
Akshaya Avril Tucker is a composer who draws inspiration from the music and dance traditions of South Asia, having trained as a cellist and Odissi dancer from a young age. She explores meditative, gestural and effervescent soundscapes, often rooted in collaboration with South Asian-trained musicians and dancers. Her work has been performed by Hindustani vocalist Saili Oak, A Far Cry, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Salastina Music Society, Duo Cortona, Third Coast Chamber Collective, and many others. Upcoming commissions include a new work for Brooklyn Rider in the 2022–2023 season. Recent commissions include projects with Lucia Lin, Johnny Gandelsman, Boston Opera Collaborative, Payton MacDonald, WindSync, Englewinds, invoke string quartet, and Thalea String Quartet. Tucker's work has been performed at La Jolla Music Society, Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music Society of Detroit, String Theory (TN), and National Sawdust. In 2019, she won an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. Originally from Western Massachusetts, Akshaya is currently based in Los Angeles where she is currently pursuing her doctorate in composition at the University of Southern California. She holds a master's in composition from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor's in music from Brown University. She is an alumna from the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music (2017–2018).
Aly Stoffo is an environmental educator, forager, and the owner of Glam Gardener NYC. She holds a Master’s degree in Sustainability Solutions from Arizona State University. Stoffo has worked in various initiatives through her roles with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the City of Tempe Recycling Services, Aramark Foods, Arizona State University, and one of New York City’s largest green energy consulting firms. At the start of the pandemic, she returned to the roots of what truly motivated her: her love for the outdoors and her community. She started an Instagram page (@glamgardenernyc) designed to be a free resource and space for connection with other city-bound nature-lovers. She shared free information about gardening, local environmental advocacy, and wild edible plants like dandelion and mugwort. Almost two years later, Glam Gardener NYC has evolved into a business that offers herbal products crafted with wild plants, education, and art under one roof. Glam Gardener NYC herbal products are designed to offer options for herbal enthusiasts, with hyper-local ingredients including New York City-made honey and regionally state harvested plants. Stoffo creates educational workshops around nature and crafting for kids and adults and leads local foraging tours in Staten Island to teach others how to identify and use wild plants as medicinal remedies and food.
Musician and educator Andrew Roitstein has developed a multifaceted career producing interactive educational concerts, creating K–12 music curricula, and designing innovative music programs that have reached young people throughout the world. He is currently the Director of Education and Community Engagement at Orchestra of St. Luke’s, where he oversees their Music in Color initiative, Free School Concerts series, and Youth Orchestra of St. Luke’s. From 2015–2018, Roitstein was Senior Music Curriculum Specialist for Juilliard Global K–12 Programs, where he designed the conceptual framework, selected the musical repertoire, and developed resources for their online arts education platform that is now being taught in over 40 schools internationally. Roitstein is a founding member and bassist of the award-winning Toomai String Quintet, an ensemble who has been presented by institutions such as Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Midori and Friends, and The Juilliard School. He has also performed with the New York and Hong Kong Philharmonic orchestras. A prolific arranger, his works have been performed by members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, members of the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and Joshua Bell, among others. Roitstein has a strong dedication to performing and arranging Latin American music. With Toomai, he released Cuerdas Cubanas (2018), an album that features his arrangements of popular Cuban songs. He also regularly performs tango with Grammy winners Pablo Ziegler and Hector Del Curto. He received his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the Juilliard School.
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The MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas concert series is made possible by the generous support of Presenting Sponsor MetLife Foundation. The Spring 2022 Music program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature, and by the Howard Gilman Foundation.
Additional support for this concert comes from the Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and The Amphion Foundation, Inc.