Jefferson Friedman

American

Summary

American composer Jefferson Friedman was born in 1974 in Swampscott,
Massachusetts. His music has been called "impossible to resist” by The New York Times, and Sequenza 21
reports, "[Mr. Friedman] goes a lot further toward sustaining interest
and tension than composers twice his age (and with Pulitzer Prizes).”
His work has been performed throughout the United States and abroad,
most notably at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln
Center’s Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of
Music, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and the
American Academy in Rome.

Mr. Friedman has been commissioned three times by Leonard Slatkin and
the National Symphony Orchestra; his works March, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly, and Sacred Heart: Explosion were all written for the NSO.

Mr. Friedman’s honors and awards include the Rome Prize Fellowship in
Musical Composition, the ASCAP Leo Kaplan Award, the BMI Student
Composer Award, the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, the
Palmer-Dixon Prize, and the top prize in the Juilliard Orchestra
Competition. He received his M.M. degree in music composition from The
Juilliard School, where he studied with John Corigliano, and his B.A.
from Columbia University, where his teachers included David Rakowski and
Jonathan Kramer.

Biography

American composer Jefferson Friedman was born in 1974 in Swampscott,
Massachusetts. His music has been called "impossible to resist” by The New York Times, and Sequenza 21
reports, "[Mr. Friedman] goes a lot further toward sustaining interest
and tension than composers twice his age (and with Pulitzer Prizes).”
His work has been performed throughout the United States and abroad,
most notably at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln
Center’s Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of
Music, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and the
American Academy in Rome.

Mr. Friedman has been commissioned three times by Leonard Slatkin and
the National Symphony Orchestra; his works March, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly, and Sacred Heart: Explosion were all written for the NSO. March is a brief closing piece, commissioned by the orchestra as part of the Hechinger Encores series. The Throne and Sacred Heart are the second and third sections of a planned orchestral trilogy entitled In the Realms of the Unreal, each movement of which is based on the life and work of a different American "outsider” or "visionary” artist.

The Throne is a musical depiction of Washington outsider artist
James Hampton's (1909—1964) incredible sculptural work of the same name.
After its premiere, The Washington Post described the piece as having "ambitious scale and complexity” and The Washington Times
proclaimed, "Perhaps this country’s long drought of listenable
classical music is now coming to an end. This work, frankly, is a
keeper.” The piece has subsequently been performed by the New York
Philharmonic at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fischer Hall, and by the Los
Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.

In October 2007, the NSO commissioned and premiered a revised version of
Mr. Friedman’s Sacred Heart: Explosion. Sacred Heart: Explosion
is based on the work of visionary artist Henry Darger, of Chicago
(1892—1972), and the original version of the piece was composed while
Mr. Friedman was still a student at Juilliard. After the premiere of the
revised version, The Washington Post hailed it as having, "truly eloquent moments,” and The Washington Times reported that it was "thoroughly modern, highly intelligent music.”

In addition to his works for orchestra, Mr. Friedman has written two string quartets for the Chiara Quartet. His String Quartet No. 2
has been published by G. Schirmer, Inc. as part of the New American
Voices series, and has been recorded by The Corigliano Quartet for their
Naxos debut CD. Of Mr. Friedman’s String Quartet No. 3, Sequenza
21 reported, ". . . about two-thirds of the way through, something
special happens: the instruments climb into their highest registers,
start playing quick glissandos and unisons of varying vibrato widths,
and, for a few breathless moments, break into birdsong. When the music
returns to Earth again, the resolution is beautiful, and one realizes
one has just heard something a little amazing.”

Both string quartets are performed frequently. String Quartet No. 2
was recently featured with new choreography by Brian Reeder at Columbia
University’s Miller Theater, and selections from both String Quartets
Nos. 2 and 3 were performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as part of
a festival honoring John Corigliano for his 70th birthday.

Upcoming highlights for Mr. Friedman include the Chicago premiere of Sacred Heart: Explosion
by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in June 2008. In addition, a live
recording of the National Symphony Orchestra's premiere of this piece is
included as part of an exhibit called "Dargerism: Contemporary Artists
and Henry Darger" at The American Folk Art Museum in New York, which
runs from April 15 through September 21, 2008. The 16-minute piece will
be broadcast three times per hour throughout the exhibit, and Mr.
Friedman’s scores and score sketches are also on display. Also in June,
Mr. Friedman’s String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3 will be performed by the
American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) as part of the Wordless
Music Series at The Whitney Museum of American Art.

In February 2009, Miller Theater will present an evening-length concert
featuring only Mr. Friedman’s music as part of its Composer Portraits
series. Mr. Friedman is currently at work on two new pieces for this
concert. The first is a 25-minute piece for solo piano, written for
Simone Dinnerstein and commissioned by Miller Theater for this
performance. The second is a set of songs for rock singer and chamber
ensemble, which will be premiered by former Shudder To Think band member
Craig Wedren, with ACME.

Mr. Friedman’s honors and awards include the Rome Prize Fellowship in
Musical Composition, the ASCAP Leo Kaplan Award, the BMI Student
Composer Award, the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, the
Palmer-Dixon Prize, and the top prize in the Juilliard Orchestra
Competition. He received his M.M. degree in music composition from The
Juilliard School, where he studied with John Corigliano, and his B.A.
from Columbia University, where his teachers included David Rakowski and
Jonathan Kramer. His has also studied with George Tsontakis and
Christopher Rouse.

In addition to his work as a composer, Mr. Friedman has performed with a
number of rock bands, including Shudder To Think, and recently
collaborated with the electronic music duo Matmos, contributing string
arrangements for their album The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast.
He lives and composes in Long Island City, NY. With the exception of String Quartet No. 2, his catalog is self-published by Montana 59 Music.

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