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Curtis Institute of Music

John de Lancie Library

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All-School Project 2018-2019 : The Edge Effect: Performances

Upcoming Peformances

A Mad King

November 10, 2018, at 8 p.m. 

Gould Rehearsal Hall
1616 Locust Street

      Julius Eastman ('63)        Joy Boy

      Peter Maxwell Davies       Eight Songs for a Mad King

The Curtis 20/21 Ensemble presents Peter Maxwell Davies’s melodrama Eight Songs for a Mad King, long recognized as a landmark of experimental theater. In this innovative work, composed in the late 1960s, Davies captures King George III’s descent into madness through inventive music and a wide array of non-traditional performance techniques, creating an unforgettable experience for the listener. The work is preceded by Joy Boy, a bright and minimal woodwind quartet by Curtis alumnus Julius Eastman, a gifted and idiosyncratic composer, pianist, and one of the first vocalists to take on the Eight Songs in performance.

The program will include a conversation with David Ludwig about the composers; their lives and their works.


Ode to Napoleon

Saturday, February 2, 2019, at 8 p.m.

Gould Rehearsal Hall
1616 Locust Street

      David Lang                                 Illumination Rounds

      Jonathan Bailey Holland (’96) 7’ Synchrony

      Nina C. Young                            Spero Lucem

      David Ludwig (’01)                     Flowers in the Desert

      Arnold Schoenberg                   Ode to Napoleon

Curtis alumnus and world-renowned pianist Peter Serkin joins Curtis 20/21 and the Vera String Quartet to perform Arnold Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon, a work written in 1942 in response to the rise of authoritarianism and World War II. The program features other politically charged works: pieces by Curtis alumni Jonathan Bailey Holland and David Ludwig, 20/21’s artistic director; and gripping musical statements by David Lang and Nina Young.

There will be a pre-concert conversation on stage with some of the composers including a discussion of the intersection of politics and music.


Portrait of Augusta Read Thomas

Saturday, March 23, 2019, at 8 p.m.

Gould Rehearsal Hall
1616 Locust Street


Two Thoughts About The Piano
Mansueto Tribute, "double helix"
Helix Spirals
Klee Musings
Plea for Peace
Selene—Moon Chariot Rituals

Curtis 20/21 performs a selection of works by Curtis’s 2018–19 composer in residence, Augusta Read Thomas. A Grammy award-winning master with an impressive body of works that embody unbridled passion and fierce poetry, she has been called “a true virtuoso composer” (The New Yorker) and “one of the most recognizable and widely loved figures in American music” (American Academy of Arts and Letters).

An on-stage conversation with Augusta Read Thomas will precede the performance.


Past Performances

Succession: The Zorá String Quartet Performs New Works by Curtis Student Composers

May 4 at 8 p.m. 

Gould Rehearsal Hall
1616 Locust Street

Ecological “succession” describes a gradual change in an environment as species influence each other over time, replacing old systems with new ones. The increasing use of technology is a kind of succession in music, as electronics allow composers to explore nearly endless possibilities of sound and color. The six student composers of the Curtis composition department create works for the Curtis resident string quartet in a program presented with the help of composer Tod Machover, a pioneer in technology and art.

TICKETS: No tickets or advance reservations are required. Seating is first-come, first-served.

The Edge Effect: Composers and their Environmental Influences

February 24, 2018, at 8 p.m. 

Gould Rehearsal Hall
1616 Locust Street

Edge effects occur in those small regions of overlap between two different habitats, creating greater levels of biodiversity. Composers who are inspired by extramusical forces generate new and unique sounds for voice and instruments. This concert features works influenced by theatre, art, and technology, culminating in the prescient Eight Songs for a Mad King by Peter Maxwell Davies.

TICKETS: No tickets or advance reservations are required. Seating is first-come, first-served.

Chen Yi, Composer in Residence

December 1, 2018, at 8 p.m. (7:30 p.m. Pre-concert talk with Chen Yi and David Ludwig) 

Gould Rehearsal Hall
1616 Locust Street

TICKETS: No tickets or advance reservations are required. Seating is first-come, first-served.


December 2 at 8 p.m.

Miller Theatre at Columbia University
2960 Broadway, New York
This performance is part of Curtis on Tour, the Nina von Maltzahn global touring initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music.

Shaped by her experience coming of age during China's Cultural Revolution, Chen Yi embodies the edge effect: Her early influences include both Chinese traditional music and Western classical music. Chen Yi is a master of contemporary technique and a strong advocate for music’s power to connect audiences of different cultural backgrounds. The 20/21 Ensemble will take on her active and engaging chamber works, including the evocative Happy Rain on a Spring Night and the iconic Sparkle.

Ecotone: Selected Works for Solo Instruments

October 31, 2018, at 8 p.m.

Gould Rehearsal Hall
1616 Locust Street 

An ecotone is an area of transition between two environments. This concert features a selection of solo instrumental compositions that combine virtuosic technique with theatrical performance. From Aaron Jay Kernis’s outrageous Superstar Etude No. 1 to R. Murray Schafer’s mythically inspired The Crown of Ariadne, each work transforms the musician into a dramatic and dynamic character on stage.

BERIO Sequenza V
KERNIS  Superstar Etude, No. 1
KIRSTEN  Pirouette on a Moon Sliver
SCHAFER  The Crown of Ariadne
SMITH The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit

TICKETS: No tickets or advance reservations are required. Seating is first-come, first-served.