Released: January 29, 2010
Lincoln, Neb. - The University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music announces composer Robert Sirota's Fantasy will receive its Nebraska premiere in a performance by cellist Gregory Beaver (of the Chiara String Quartet, in residence at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and pianist Soyeon Lee at St. Paul Methodist Church, 1144 M Street, Lincoln, NE, on Friday, January 29, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
This concert marks the premiere of the Gregory Beaver/Soyeon Lee Duo. The program also includes cello and piano sonatas by Franck and Debussy. The Gregory Beaver/Soyeon Lee Duo designed this program to depict generations of the great French tradition of chamber music from the Romantic to the Contemporary. Robert Sirota studied with the renowned composer Nadia Boulanger in Paris.
Claude Debussy was a pupil of Cesar Franck at the Paris Conservatoire. Robert Sirota's Fantasy, written in 1975, is the first in a series of works written for Dr. Sirota's longtime friend, cellist Norman Fischer (who was Gregory Beaver's teacher at Rice University and is the father of Rebecca Fischer, violinist in the Chiara Quartet). Of the piece, the composer says, "The piece explores widely varied textures, from boldly declamatory, to rather pointillist, breaking into a Viennese waltz before dashing to a climax, followed by a slow dissolution."
Strings magazine has described Robert Sirota's music as "emotionally charged," and Fanfare has praised it as "heartfelt and honest." His work has been performed throughout the United States and Europe, at venues including Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall in New York, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the Yellow Barn Music Festival, Benaroya Hall in Seattle, and at The Juilliard School, the Shepherd School of Music, Peabody, Oberlin Conservatory, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore, Royal Conservatory in Toronto, and the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow.
Dr. Sirota has spent his professional life striking a balance between teaching, administration, and composition. The result has been the effective leadership of some of this country's premier music schools (including the Peabody Institute and, currently, The Manhattan School of Music), and a varied compositional catalogue. His commissions include works for the Empire Brass, American Guild of Organists, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, the Fischer Duo, the Peabody Trio, the Webster Trio, and the Chiara String Quartet.
Dr. Sirota's latest orchestral work, A Rush of Wings, received a glowing review by Steve Smith in The New York Times in 2009: In an explanatory note, Mr. Sirota described a recent preoccupation with sensations of flying, saying that the new piece was an effort to evoke "the wings of the wind" as cited in several passages from Psalms. Even without that, Mr. Sirota's goal would surely have been evident in the energetic swoops and airy plummets of his seven-minute piece, fashioned with the clean, angular melodies, tart harmonies, lively syncopations and punchy accents of American Neo-Classicism. Fidgeting strings conveyed a nervy energy under sustained woodwind and brass tones, with glockenspiel, vibraphone and cymbals providing a shimmering patina. As if buffeted by a breeze, the music frequently changed course without losing momentum.