Joan Tower: Pittsburgh Composer-in-Residence

Joan Tower: Pittsburgh Composer-in-Residence
© Bernard Mindich
Joan Tower is the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's 'Composer of the Year' for the 2010-2011 season. During a composer-residency of five PSO subscriptions cycles, and several chamber concerts, educational and other activities, audiences have experienced composer and music in depth.
  • Rarely do the music of a composer and her personality match as well as those of Joan Tower. After only a few minutes into a conversation with the gregarious, thoughtful and intense woman, her inviting and energetic music makes even more sense. Hardly a point is made without a hearty, easygoing laugh — the sort of warm color that streams through her rhythmically charged music.
    — Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Stroke (2010), commissioned by the orchestra, premieres in May under the baton of Music Director Manfred Honeck. Tower dedicated Stroke "with love to my brother George." He is recovering from a stroke.

Stroke is Tower's second commission from the orchestra; Tambor (1998) was the first. The orchestra revisited Tambor in March 2011.
  • Joan Tower's dramatic Tambor (Drum) opened the concert. She's the symphony's composer of the year and gave an excellent and succinct spoken introduction to her music, noting as usual that she has the distinction of being a living composer.
    Yesterday's performance was the first of three this week, but the symphony actually has considerable experience with this piece. Mariss Jansons and the Pittsburgh Symphony commissioned Tambor and gave the world premiere in 1998. Tortelier conducted it in June 2004 during a meeting of the American Symphony Orchestra League.
    Tortelier led a decisive and persuasive performance yesterday at Heinz Hall. The power of the orchestra, its forceful rhythmic energy and some beautiful non-percussion solos were impressive. The percussion section played with superb definition and wide dynamic range.
    — Mark Kanny, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Also in May, Columbia University's Miller Theatre will feature Joan Tower on its Composer Portraits series. Performers from the esteemed Curtis Institute bring an incredibly wide-ranging chamber music program to New York City. For tickets and more information, visit the Miller Theatre website.

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