"The Beautiful" is my personal take on America the Beautiful hymn. What is America for me as an immigrant? I moved here ten years ago in search of artistic freedom, for the large country that represents a great variety and multiplicity of voices. I moved here expecting that no matter what my artistic choices would be I could find a community that would appreciate my craft and share my passion. As a Tatar-Korean Russian-speaking composer there seemed to be no better place to expand my activity in. And now, 10 years later, I feel very positive about my choice. The beauty and greatness of the United States of America for me is in its human variety and multiplicity, where the constant flow of immigrants provides the constant renewal of fresh energy, while contributing to the diversity of the nation. That is what I aimed for reflecting upon in this lush, somewhat eclectic, piece.
Described as "evocative," "fluid and theatrical... the music [that] makes its case with immediacy" (Washington Post and The Arts Fuse) as well as both "assertive and steely," and "lovely, subtle writing" (Wall Street Journal) that “tugs at our heart strings” (OperaGene), music by Liliya Ugay has been performed in many countries around the globe. Ugay has collaborated with the Nashville Symphony, Albany Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, New England Philharmonic, Yale Philharmonia, Raleigh Civic Symphony, Norfolk Festival Choir, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Unheard-Of//Ensemble, Molinari Quartet, Icarus quartet, Antico Moderno, Omnibus ensemble, Andrea Lam, and Paul Neubauer among others. Her compositions have been featured at the Aspen, Norfolk, CULTIVATE, American Composers, Chelsea, New York Electroacoustic Music, June in Buffalo, and Darmstadt New Music festivals, as well as the 52nd Venice Biennale. She completed residencies with Washington National Opera and American Lyric Theater; the companies presented her operatic works on the stages of John Kennedy Center Terrace Theater and Merkin Concert Hall. Liliya has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, ASCAP, Yale University, and the Woodruff Foundation; she was also a finalist for the 2019 Rome Prize. In addition, Liliya was a prizewinner of many international composition and piano competitions in the USA, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Russia. One of her passions as a pianist is to promote the music of repressed Soviet composers in her concert series Silenced Voices, for which she received guidance from Boris Berman.
Originally from Uzbekistan (a former part of the USSR) and raised in the Tatar/Korean music family, Liliya is particularly inspired by the topics of immigration, motherhood, cultural diversity, and geographic inequality. Liliya serves as an Assistant Professor of Composition and director of the Polymorphia ensemble of new music at the Florida State University. Currently, Liliya works on a monodrama commissioned by Opera America IDEA grant, and a large choral-orchestral work commissioned by Redlands Symphony and National Endowment of the Arts. Ugay holds degrees from the Yale School of Music; her primary mentors include Aaron Jay Kernis, Martin Bresnick, Hannah Lash, Christopher Theofanidis, and David Lang.
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