America has long been linked to what is hot. Dubbed the Great Melting Pot, its reputation as the world’s crucible of cultures is just one of America’s many associations with elevated temperatures. Among the more positive of those is its status as the birthplace of jazz, in whose molten improvisations my own musical persona was forged. This variation tips its hat to the great jazz tradition in a way that hopes to get pulses racing as much as would the most heated political debate.
Patrick Zimmerli is a New York- and Paris-based composer and saxophonist. His CD Sun on Sand, with Joshua Redman and the string quartet Brooklyn Rider, was released on Nonesuch Recordings in 2019. This marks his third collaboration with Nonesuch, following Modern Music, his two-piano CD featuring Kevin Hays and Brad Mehldau, and Redman’s Walking Shadows.
Since winning the inaugural Thelonious Monk Composers Competition in 1993, he has written, recorded and performed with many leading lights in the classical and jazz worlds.
The COVID crisis has forced Zimmerli online, where he is producing a “Virtual Venue” concept featuring different musicians filmed in different places around the world, using filmic techniques to give the illusion of playing together in the same space and time. The music for the first version, entitled Children of Bronzeville, is based on poems of Gwendolyn Brooks.
In addition he has just been awarded a commission from Opera Arizona to write a serial opera specifically to be viewed on Cell Phones and Tablets.
PRe-COVID projects include Views of Chicago, a “multi-composition” of nine pieces for nine ensembles across many genres in the Chicago area (of which Children of Bronzeville is an offshoot); Messages, a commission from the Seattle Commissioning Club for an evening-length work for classical saxophone quartet + jazz trio; and a Concerto for Flute and Jazz Percussion for Jasmine Choi, Satoshi Takeishi and the New York Classical Players, premiered in early 2020. From 2016-17 Zimmerli curated the INTERSECT festival in NYC’s Bryant Park, and developed Now and Then, a TV series juxtaposing old and new music, for National Sawdust and WNET.
Zimmerli has written numerous orchestral, chamber and choral works, including two four-movement Piano Trios for the Seattle Chamber Music Festival and two four- movement Piano Concertos with jazz percussion, for Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra with pianists Ethan Iverson and Sonia Rubinsky.
Other large-scale pieces include Clockworks, a Chamber Music America Commission, premiered at (le) Poisson Rouge and released on CD in 2018. In 2017 he wrote Alan Seeger: Instrument of Destiny, an oratorio for male choir, operatic tenor, jazz percussion and piano, premiered at the Invalides Cathedral in Paris; it was reprised in Reims and at the Fondation Boghossian in Brussels, with a New York premiere at Cathedral of St. John the Divine in November, 2019.
Zimmerli’s music has been performed at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London, Salle Pleyel in Paris, Sala São Paolo in Brazil, the Vienna Konzerthaus Grosser Saal and the SF Jazz Center. He also created a site-specific piece entitled Waterfall/Gathering Pools for the Centre Pompidou in Paris with the Paris Percussion Group.
His music has been featured at MoMA and the Guggenheim Museum, on NPR and WQXR, and has been released on the Naxos, Blue Note, Arabesque, Songlines, Newvelle, and Naïve labels. He has taught at the Paris Conservatoire, Sciences Po, and Columbia University, where he holds a DMA in Composition.
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