A piece of music is a world that the composer dreamed up. To me, that's exciting because it means she or he has revealed some hidden powers lurking within this world. The image that kept returning to me as I worked on Evidence was that of a journey from shore to shore in some challenging element, maybe a sea journey, or a journey through space. Whatever the element is, I wanted to see if I could get from one shore to the other.LACO commissioned Aucoin, "one of the most sought-after young voices in classical music" (Wall Street Journal), as part of its singular and highly successful "Sound Investment" commissioning program, which engages audience members in developing new works by giving them a rare opportunity to create a legacy in music and observe first-hand the development of a new work from the composer's earliest ideas to the finished composition. Merrill Songs The world premiere of Merrill Songs, with tenor Paul Appleby and the composer on piano, took place on March 16, 2016 at Zankel Hall (Carnegie Hall). Aucoin's song-cycle includes six poems by James Merrill that the poet himself referred to as "lyrics of love and loss." The work synthesizes the themes of environmentalism, love, relationships, and sexuality, where rich references lie beneath the surface of seemingly simple prose.
— Matthew Aucoin
You hear elements of other composers and styles — Britten, Thomas Adès — in Mr. Aucoin's music. Still, his voice is personal, even audacious. In "Grass," the third Merrill song, the poet equates smoking a joint, a cheerful "inch of green," with the burning-up of our planet. And the music, run through with oscillating piano riffs and coy vocal writing, conveys impishness, haziness and danger all at once.The Orphic Moment The Orphic Moment (2014) received its New York premiere on March 23, 2016 with Anthony Rolf Costanza, countertenor, Keir GoGwilt, violin, and the Manhattan School of Music Orchestra conducted by the composer at National Sawdust in Brooklyn.
— Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times
The performance was also reviewed by Tommasini, who noted how in the "pulsing, fitful score, the orchestra simmers with rattling ostinatos and darting lines." This work examines the famous Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, probing Orpheus' innermost debate on whether or not to turn back, losing Eurydice forever. Through his music, Aucoin speculates that Orpheus intentionally turned back, at the worst imaginable moment, but knowing that his strained emotions would later let him produce the most exquisite art. In this pivotal moment, Aucoin represents Eurydice with a solo violin, and Orpheus with a countertenor. In his thought-provoking interpretation, Aucoin's score beautifully captures the story's stormy tone.
Aucoin, also a conductor, pianist, and writer, is soon to be the artist-in-residence at the Los Angeles Opera. Born in Boston, Aucoin studied at Harvard and received a graduate degree from Juilliard under the instruction of Robert Beaser. Aucoin has received commissions from the Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater, Lyric Opera of Chicago, American Repertory Theatre, Jennifer Koh, and the Brentano String Quartet.
For specific inquiries about this composer, please contact Kathy.Schuman@schirmer.com or call 212-254-2100.