"America the Beautiful" has attained such a degree of cultural ubiquity that we can lose sight of the beleaguered hopefulness of the lyrics and weight of the melodic line. My piece "Beauty of America" was my attempt to color and subvert the familiarity of the melody with harmonies and counterpoint that put the complex poetry of the song front and center, to illustrate that it is through the peaceful, passionate intermingling of different experiences that we aspire to the truest beauty of what America represents.
Hailed by the New York Times as “ravishing and engulfing,” Gity Razaz’s music ranges from concert solo pieces to large symphonic works. With intense melodies and inventive harmonic languages, Gity’s compositions are often dramatically charged. As described by John Corigliano: “...her Middle- Eastern roots have merged with her Western sensibilities to produce music that is both original and startling. She is on her way to becoming a major force in contemporary music.”
Ms. Razaz’s music has been commissioned and performed by Washington National Opera, Seattle Symphony, Ballet Moscow, National Sawdust, National Ballet School of Canada, Chautauqua Opera Company, Amsterdam Cello Biennale, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Albany Symphony Orchestra, La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, American Composers Orchestra, former cellist of the Kronos Quartet Jeffrey Zeigler, Juilliard Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Metropolis Ensemble, New York Choreographic Institute, among many others.
Her compositions have earned numerous national and international awards, such as the 2019 American Academy of Arts and Letters Andrew Imbrie Award “given by the Academy to a composer of demonstrated artistic merit in mid-career,” the Jerome Foundation Award, the Libby Larsen Prize in 28th International Search for New Music Competition, three ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, two ASCAP Plus Awards, Juilliard Composers’ Orchestra Competition, Juilliard’s Palmer Dixon Award for outstanding composition of the year in 2010 and 2012, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Composer Institute.
Upcoming projects include commissions from Houston Grand Opera to be premiered in 2022, Chamber Music America and Latitude49 Contemporary Ensemble, an orchestral piece for Grinnell College schedule for a world premiere in fall 2021.
Aside from her ongoing engagements in composition, Ms. Razaz is an active teacher and educator. Ms. Razaz joined the faculty of Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she taught music theory and ear training in 2012-2013, and served on the advisory committee for the American Federation of Teachers Graduate Scholarship. She is a composition teacher for the Kaufman Music Center’s Luna Composition Lab. She has also appeared as a guest artist presenting master classes in United States, while teaching piano, composition, and music theory privately in New York.
Iranian-American composer Gity Razaz started her musical studies in piano at a young age and began composing intuitively at age nine. Ms. Razaz attended The Juilliard School on full scholarship, and received her Bachelor and Master of Music in Composition under the tutelage of Samuel Adler, Robert Beaser, and John Corigliano.
As the artistic director of Center for Musical Excellence, I am always on the look out for new and undiscovered talents. They come to me, sometimes, by my colleagues’ recommendations and other times through young artists’ own research about our organization. Tyson Davis and Andrew Bambridge are currently on our roster of CME Young Artists, whom we mentor. Patricio Molina is a CME alumnus. Theo Chandler, Ji-Young Ko, and Daniel Newman-Lessler applied for our Grant program, and I got to know their work through that process. I decide on young artists when I notice a deep passion and drive within them, plus a certain kind of sparkle in the personality and lots of humility. In addition to musical talents, I believe these are the qualities that will take the young artists far. CME’s motto is "Moving Musicians Forward". I’ve chosen our Discovery Composers based on these qualities, whom we felt we could easily move forward.
- Min Kwon