X

MENU

From the U.S. to the U.K.: Meet the Composers of "A Lyric Return"

By: Kendall Carwile

January 14, 2021

"A Lyric Return" will be live-streamed from the Robinson Center on January 30th & 31st, 2021. Non-subscribers can gain access to the stream for a minimum donation of $10. To gain access to the stream and learn more about the program visit ArkansasSymphony.org/lyric-return. Please call the Box Office at 501-666-1761 if you have any questions.

 

Jessie MontgomeryJessie Montgomery: New York, USA

Jessie Montgomery is an acclaimed composer, violinist, and educator. She was born and raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1980s during a time when the neighborhood was at a major turning point. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, language, and social justice, placing her squarely as one of the most relevant interpreters of 21st-century American sound and experience.

5 Quick Facts: 

  • Since 1999, Montgomery has been associated with the Sphinx Organization, which supports young African-American and Latinx string players. 
  • Her parents – her father a musician, her mother a theater artist and storyteller – were engaged in the community and regularly brought Montgomery to rallies, performances, and parties where neighbors, activists, and artists gathered to celebrate and support the movement of the time.  
  • Montgomery began her violin studies at the Third Street Music School Settlement, one of the oldest community organizations in the country. 
  • The New York Philharmonic has selected Montgomery as one of the featured composers of their Project 19, which marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting equal voting rights in the U.S to women. 
  • Montgomery is currently a member of the Catalyst Quartet and continues to maintain an active performance career as a violinist. 

 

Claude Debussy: Paris, France

Claude Debussy was a French composer. He is sometimes seen as the first Impressionist composer but often rejected that term. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

5 Quick Facts: 

  • Debussy started piano lessons at the age of seven. His family wasn’t all that musical: his father owned a china shop, and his mother was a seamstress. 
  • Debussy won the Prix de Rome for composition, with his piece L’enfant prodigue. This meant he received a scholarship to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in the Villa Medici and had to complete a four-year residence from 1885-1887.
  • His influences include Chopin and Tchaikovsky. 
  • Debussy was employed by Nadezhda von Meck, the wealthy patroness of Tchaikovsky. He gave her children piano lessons and performed in private concerts with her musician friends. 
  • Fuel was scarce in France during World War I. You had to be very rich to obtain coal to heat your home. Debussy, who was constantly broke, offered to write his coal merchant an original composition. Surprisingly, the offer was accepted and the merchant went home with Debussy’s last composition, appropriately named “Evenings Lighted by Burning Coals.”

 

 George Walker: New Jersey, USA

George Walker was an American composer, pianist, and organist, and was the first African American to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Music. 

5 Quick Facts: 

  • Walker began piano lessons at the age of 5.
  • Walker graduated from the Curtis Institute in 1945 with Artistic Diplomas in piano and composition, becoming the first black graduate of this renowned music school. 
  • In 1946 Walker composed his String Quartet no. 1. The second movement of this work, entitled, Lyric for Strings, has become the most frequently performed orchestral work by a living American composer.
  • Walker has composed more than 90 works for orchestra, chamber orchestra, piano, strings, voice, organ, clarinet, guitar, brass, woodwinds, and chorus.
  •  In 1997, Marion Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC proclaimed June 17th as George Walker Day in the nation's capital.

 

Ralph Vaughan Williams: London, UK

Ralph Vaughan Williams, OM was an English composer. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces, and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over sixty years.

5 Quick Facts: 

  • Young Ralph studied piano and violin and collected traditional folk songs from an early age. These tunes went on to inspire many of his subsequent works.
  • Vaughan Williams studied at the Royal College of Music in London.
  • Vaughan never took his privileged background for granted and worked all his life for democratic and egalitarian ideals. He viewed music as being part of everyone’s everyday life, rather than being the preserve of an elite. 
  • In 1907-1908, Vaughan Wiliams studied orchestration in Paris with Ravel. It inspired one of his most fruitful periods of composition. 1910 saw the premieres of his A Sea Symphony and the Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis.
  • The theme from Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis was discovered by Vaughan Williams when he was commissioned to put together the 1906 edition of the English Hymnal. His orchestration of it resulted in an unmistakably British sound and has remained one of his most popular pieces.

 

"A Lyric Return" will be live-streamed from the Robinson Center on January 30th & 31st, 2021. Non-subscribers can gain access to the stream for a minimum donation of $10. To gain access to the stream and learn more about the program visit ArkansasSymphony.org/lyric-return. Please call the Box Office at 501-666-1761 if you have any questions. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subscribe and Save

New Subscribers SAVE 50%

Subscribe Online

Donate Now

A donation to ASO puts instruments in the hands of children, makes live symphonic music accessible to all Arkansans, and makes it possible for world-class musicians to call Arkansas home. 

Every dollar counts, and each donation helps ensure a sustainable, thriving future for ASO.

Entergy Kids Ticket

entergykids ticket module

Season Sponsors

  • acxiom.jpg
  • ar_arts.jpg
  • LR_cvb.jpg
  • simmons_logo_season_sponsor.JPG
  • stella_boyl.jpg

League of American Orchestras

Member: League of American Orchestras 75th Anniversary Logo