I thought while playing a set of variations one hand might like a rest. The hand that continues plays two fast variations; if there were a third It would travel right off the piano.
Composer John Harbison’s concert music catalog of more than 300 works is anchored by three operas, seven symphonies, twelve concerti, a ballet, six string quartets, numerous song cycles and chamber works, and a large body of sacred music that includes cantatas, motets, and the orchestral-choral works Four Psalms, Requiem, and Abraham. He also has a substantial body of jazz compositions and arrangements. Harbison has received commissions from most of America’s premiere musical institutions, including the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. As one of America’s most distinguished artistic figures, he is recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them a MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize. He has been composer-in-residence with the Pittsburgh and Los Angeles orchestras, the American Academy in Rome, and numerous festivals including Tanglewood, Aspen, Marlboro, Santa Fe, and Songfest.
Harbison is Institute Professor at MIT, principal guest conductor at Emmanuel Music, and past music director of Cantata Singers. He was President of the Copland Fund and a trustee of the American Academy in Rome. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a trustee of the Bogliasco Foundation. He and violinist Rose Mary Harbison, the inspiration behind many of his works for violin, have been artistic co-directors of the annual Token Creek Chamber Music Festival since its founding in 1989. Harbison’s 80th birthday was celebrated worldwide during the 2018-2019 season, marked by three major premieres, several new recordings, performances across the globe, and his first book, on Bach. The 2020 pandemic year saw a flood of new compositions, especially works for voice, solo keyboard, and chorus, including childrens’ choir.
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