You know the old saying, “When in Rome…?”
Well, that’s what Paul Moravec is doing this spring as he serves a composer-residency at the American Academy in Rome. Founded in 1894, the organization supports innovative artists of the fine arts and humanities by fostering creative work in an atmosphere conducive to intellectual and artistic freedom, interdisciplinary exchange, and innovation. While there, Moravec will be working on several projects, including two new operas. A few days after his arrival, Moravec sent along this photo and wrote, “Here’s the view from my studio.” Now tell us…after looking at this view, who wouldn’t be inspired!
During his residency, Moravec will also travel to Stratford-upon-Avon (UK) for the May 31 world premiere of his Shakuhachi Concerto. Written for soloist James Nyoraku Schlefer, music director David Curtis conducts the Orchestra of the Swan. Originally composed as a quintet for shakuhachi flute and string quartet, Schlefer -– joined by the Colorado String Quartet — premiered the three-movement chamber version in spring 2012. (Read the original story here.)
“Orchestra of the Swan has a strong commitment to new music and new ideas,” David Curtis shares; and, it’s no mere coincidence that the Orchestra of the Swan is premiering the concerto during the 2013 Stratford-upon-Avon Arts Festival. Not only is the city the orchestra’s home, but it’s also the birthplace of The Bard of Avon — William Shakespeare — who remains a continual source of inspiration for Moravec. “The third movement of the concerto,” the composer observes, “is based on the six-note melody, C-D-G-A-E-F, which William Shakespeare spelled out in his comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost. Indeed, it is the only extant melody ‘composed’ by the great playwright. In a sense, this makes Shakuhachi Concerto a shaku-Shakespeare mash-up.”
(Moravec’s 2004 Pulitzer Prize-winning chamber work Tempest Fantasy was also inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which the composer calls his “favorite Shakespeare play.”)
Curtis notes, “I’ve been keenly anticipating [Paul’s] new work — the score looks great! It’s a combination of simplicity which allows the voice of the shakuhachi to be heard as many would be familiar with it — simple, haunting lines for shakuhachi alone, [along with] some real virtuoso sections that show off the solo potential of the instrument. The orchestral string writing is very idiomatic, and it clearly [demonstrates] that Paul is someone who understands string playing!”
More Moravec news: Moravec was also recently awarded a 2013 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship! And, pianist Anthony De Mare continues his Liaisons Project-commission tour to the Virginia Arts Festival where he’ll perform Moravec’s I Think About You.
For more Shakuhachi Concerto premiere details, click here.