“Sometimes, you have to come a little away from yourself in order to come near to yourself.” – Hans Abrahamsen
In 2013, Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen rocketed to the top of the classical music world with his Grawemeyer award-winning work, let me tell you, but two decades earlier he grappled with a debilitating bout of writer’s block and decided to no longer be a composer. It took him nearly a decade to change his mind.
Alan Pierson leads Alarm Will Sound in a very personal storytelling of the unexpected life of Hans Abrahamsen through the composer’s coming of age, his decade facing writer’s block, and his coming to terms with cerebral palsy. Finding Balance explores Hans’s journey to find himself through losing himself; to achieve balance through accepting imbalance; and to explore the limitless possibilities unlocked by embracing limitations.
Alarm Will Sound’s podcast-style performance combines live music and recorded conversations with Abrahamsen, as well as staging and movement directed by Jon Levin. The event follows upon Alarm Will Sound’s past podcast-style performances — Splitting Adams about John Adams, and This Music Should Not Exist about György Ligeti — which have been called “magnificent” and “the best live music I’ve heard all year” by The New York Times and “an invaluable introduction to this demanding but rewarding and exhilarating music” by American Record Guide.
Included in the storytelling are performances of material from Abrahamsen’s Märchenbilder, Piano Concerto, Ten Preludes, Fokus, Winternacht, Walden, and his arrangement of Bach’s Befiehl du deine Wege.
Abrahamsen’s journey transforms his life and his music, leading eventually to his creation of his magnum opus, Schnee, which is performed in its entirety to culminate the event.
In a creative life of almost half a century, HANS ABRAHAMSEN (composer) has more than once had the courage to stop, and the equal courage to start again – freshly, out of a clear reconsideration of where he was before. His allegiances are shown by the roll of composers whose works he has, as a master orchestrator, reconceived: Bach and Ligeti, Nielsen and Schumann, Schoenberg and Debussy. But he has long discovered his own terrain – quite often a snowscape, as in his early masterpiece Winternacht or the work in which he found his fully mature style, Schnee (2006-8), generally acknowledged one of the rare classics of the twenty-first century.
Besides these two pieces for instrumental ensemble, his output includes four string quartets, a collection of ten piano studies (some of which he has recomposed in other forms), concertos for piano, for piano and violin, and for piano left hand, and a monodrama for soprano and orchestra, let me tell you. He recently finished his first opera, after Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, which premiered in Copenhagen on October 13, 2019. The English language version will premiere in Munich on December 21, 2019.
ALAN PIERSON (writer/creator), Artistic Director of the acclaimed ensemble Alarm Will Sound, has been praised as “a dynamic conductor and musical visionary” by the New York Times, “a young conductor of monstrous skill” by Newsday, “gifted and electrifying” by the Boston Globe, and “one of the most exciting figures in new music today” by Fanfare. Mr. Pierson served for three years as the Artistic Director and conductor of the Brooklyn Philharmonic. The New York Times called Pierson’s leadership at the Philharmonic “truly inspiring,” and The New Yorker’s Alex Ross described it as “remarkably innovative, perhaps even revolutionary.”
Pierson has also appeared as a guest conductor with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Steve Reich Ensemble, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble ACJW, the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, L.A.Opera, the New World Symphony, and the Silk Road Project, among other ensembles. He is Principal Conductor of the Dublin-based Crash Ensemble, co-director of the Northwestern University Contemporary Music Ensemble, and has been a visiting faculty conductor at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, the Eastman School of Music, and at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity.
His collaborators have included Yo Yo Ma, Steve Reich, Dawn Upshaw, Osvaldo Golijov, John Adams, Augusta Read Thomas, David Lang, Michael Gordon, Donnacha Dennehy, La Monte Young, and choreographers Christopher Wheeldon, Akram Khan and Elliot Feld. Pierson has recorded for Nonesuch Records, Cantaloupe Music, and Sony Classical.
JON LEVIN (director) is an international director and performer, and the co-Artistic Director of Sinking Ship Productions. Most recently Jon co-created and performed Kafka’s A Hunger Artist at the Connelly Theatre, for which he earned two Drama Desk nominations (Outstanding Solo Performance and Outstanding Puppet Design) and was awarded Summerhall’s Lustrum Award for Excellence at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Directing credits include POWERHOUSE at the New Ohio Theatre (NYTimes Critics Pick) in 2014 and There Will Come Soft Rains at FringeNYC (Excellence Award for Outstanding Direction) in 2009. In addition to his work with the Sinking Ship Productions, Jon is also a founding member of the Krumple Theatre company, with which he has co-directed and performed work throughout Norway and in NYC since 2014. Jon is a graduate of the École Internationale de Théâtre de Jacques Lecoq and holds a BA in theater and neuroscience from Oberlin College.www.jon-levin.com.
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