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Make Music New York: Alberto Ginastera

Americas Society

June 21, 2016


(Images courtesy of Boosey & Hawkes and James Primosch)

In collaboration with:

Admission: FREE and open to the public.

Music of the Americas returns to Central Park for Make Music New York, with a performance of Alberto Ginastera's Serenata to celebrate the composer's centennial and Mario Davidovsky’s Americas Society commission Divertimento a 8 'Ambiguous Symmetries' by members of the International Contemporary Ensemble, directed by David Fulmer and Sebastián Zubieta. 

Read more about the program in the printed program (PDF).

About Ginastera's Serenata

Set for baritone, cello, and instrumental ensemble, this work from the early 1970s is constructed around three poems of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The first movement, "Poetico," is in three sections without pause: vocalist and cellist alternate soloistic roles, with the baritone singing "Poem no. 3" in the third part. The second movement, "Fantastico," employs aleatoric structures to maintain the independence of soloists and ensemble, fragmenting the poetry into a collage-like structure, wherein the night music becomes restless and haunted. The final movement, "Drammatico," refers to the first in its three-part structure and undergoes a turbulent development, leading to the melancholy "Poem no. 10." Ginastera refers to his use of "total chromaticism" in the work, which allows him to spin out an infinite world of pitch material, bringing "ever closer together [his] thought and its expression." Featuring baritone soloist Christopher Dylan Herbert (New York Polyphony) and cellist Paul Wiancko.

About Davidovsky's Divertimento a 8 'Ambiguous Symmetries'

Divertimento a 8 ‘Ambiguous Symmetries’ for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, cello, bass, piano, and percussion was commissioned by Americas Society and premiered in 2015. Davidovsky built upon the richness and heterogeneity of the mixed octet, integrating varied motives in ever-changing contexts, creating an abstract, self-contained commedia dell'arte. The work's designation "ambiguous symmetry" comes from its loose ternary form, in which the re-introduction of the A section serves as a genetic connector between themes, creating a sense of déja vu. As a young student analyzing major orchestral works, Davidovsky was particularly taken by the generative technique of Beethoven in the first movement of his sixth symphony, in which the first statement spins out in a succession of motivic developments. 

About the composers

Alberto Ginastera was the leading Argentine composer of the 20th century. Born in Buenos Aires in 1916, he studied music privately as a child, later enrolling at the Conservatorio Nacional Superior de Música (CNSM) in his home city. In 194647, Ginastera traveled to the United States on a Guggenheim Fellowship. Upon his return home, he joined the teaching staff of the CNSM and later became dean of the faculty of Musical Arts and Sciences at Universidad Católica Argentina. His first opera, Don Rodrigo, premiered to widespread acclaim in 1966 as the inagural concert of New York City Opera and was soon followed by two others, Bomarzo (1967) and Beatrix Cenci (1971).  In the early 1950s, modernism came to the fore in his compositional style in what he called his "neo-expressionistic period." He actively adopted 12-tone technique, and his works began to incorporate microtones and polytonality. 

Mario Davidovsky (b. 1934, Médanos, Buenos Aires, Argentina) began his composition studies with Guillermo Graetzer. In 1958, he was invited to participate in the summer session at Tanglewood, where he studied with Aaron Copland. His interest in electronic music—a fringe field of new music at the time—was encouraged by Milton Babbitt, a faculty member at Tanglewood that year, and he joined the Columbia-Princeton Music Center in 1959, later becoming the Center's director. Davidovsky is widely recognized for his seminal contributions to electroacoustic composition. His Synchronism no. 6, for piano and tape, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1971. He has received commissions from the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Juilliard and Emerson String Quartets, NYNME, and Chamber Society of Lincoln Center, to name a few. His awards include Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships, the Naumburg Award, and the Kaske Prize (Germany). Davidovsky is the Fanny P. Mason Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, former MacDowell Professor of Music at Columbia, and director of the Composers Conference and Chamber Music Center at Wellesley College. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes (Argentina). His music has been recorded on Columbia Records, CRI, New World, Wergo, Nonesuch, Bridge, and Albany, and his works have been published by C.F. Peters, E.B. Marks, and McGinnes & Marx. Ensemble Nunc recently profiled Davidovsky at 80 at the Teatro Colón (Argentina).

*The commission of this new piece by Mario Davidovsky has been made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program, with generous funding provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Chamber Music America Endowment Fund.

Read more about Davidovsky's Divertimento a 8 in the printed program from the world premiere performance.


Movement 2 "Fantastico" from Ginastera's Serenata (1975).

World premiere of Davidovsky's Divertimento a 8 'Ambiguous Symmetries'

About the performers

Hailed by Opera News for his “exceptional” singing, baritone Christopher Dylan Herbert has also received acclaim for his “smooth baritone voice”, his “consistently warm sound” and his “versatile dramatic abilities.” He is a recipient of awards from the Sullivan Foundation and Gérard Souzay Competition and he was a 2014 Naumburg Competition semifinalist. His outdoor Winterize/Winterreise project with Make Music New York is described by The New York Times as "brave and, in all senses, chilling... an elegantly lean performance that would have been impressive in any context but was remarkable under these conditions." Christopher graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Music and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. He also holds an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. He teaches voice at William Paterson University and is currently a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at The Juilliard School.

With a flexible roster of 33 leading instrumentalists performing in forces ranging from solos to large ensembles, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) functions as performer, presenter, and educator, advancing the music of our time by developing innovative new works and pursuing groundbreaking strategies for audience engagement. In an era of radical change, ICE redefines concert music as it brings together new work and new listeners. Since its founding in 2001, ICE has premiered over 500 compositions, the bulk of them by emerging composers, in venues ranging from New York’s Lincoln Center and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art to galleries, bars, clubs, and schools around the world. The ensemble has released acclaimed albums on the Bridge, Naxos, Tzadik, and New Focus labels, with forthcoming releases on Nonesuch, Kairos, and Mode.