Rayanne Dupuis, soprano & Guy Livingston, pianist honour the 80th birthday of a titan of American classical music, William Bolcom. William Bolcom and his wife Joan Morris will be in attendance, and Bolcom has composed for us a set of songs which we will be premiering. The music encompasses many styles - much is quite “jazzy” in feel, especially his Cabaret Songs, of which we will performing a selection. There will be a Q and A with the composer during the event and then an informal drink after the concert. It should be a properly festive event!
It is highly advisable to reserve a spot ahead of time for the concert. https://www.monabismarck.org/events/a-bolcom-birthday-celebration-in-song
William Bolcom (b. 1938) is one of the most versatile contemporary American composers, writing chamber music, piano works, song cycles, concertos, music theatre, opera, and symphonies, displaying a mastery of many different compositional styles.
Although not given to radical experimentation, he consciously avoids blindly following European styles, whether old or contemporary. He describes Charles Ives as his greatest influence, and in his operas and stage works he chooses to set pieces about American characters by American authors, and includes idioms such as ragtime and jazz in his works. In addition to this wide stylistic diversity, his works often display a trenchant sense of humor. He is also a noted performer, and in 1973 his recording of the complete piano music of Gershwin was named Stereo Review's Record of the Year. He and his wife mezzo-soprano Joan Morris have made over 20 recordings of American popular song.
Bolcom began studying composition with John Verrall at the age of 11. After receiving his bachelor's degree from the University of Washington, he studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College. In 1960, Milhaud took Bolcom to Paris, where he also worked with Olivier Messiaen. In 1961 Bolcom went on to study with Leland Smith at Stanford. After earning his doctorate in composition there in 1964, he won the Marc Blitzstein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters for Dynamite Tonite, a piece that shows the influence of Milhaud and the Parisian cabarets. (His Casino Paradise, written in 1990, while still cabaret-style, shows more of an individual voice.) He returned to the Paris Conservatoire in 1964, and graduated in 1965, winning the second prize in that year's composition competition, as well as the first of two Guggenheim Fellowships. Bolcom won two Koussevitzky Foundation Awards, in 1976 and 1993, for the First Piano Quartet, and the Lyric Concerto for flute and orchestra, respectively.
He has been commissioned by many of America's greatest musical institutions, including the orchestras of Philadelphia, St. Louis, Seattle, New York, Baltimore, Boston, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. His commissions include numerous works for some of the greatest singers of our time, including Placido Domingo, Marilyn Horne, and Catherine Malfitano.
In 1988, he won the Pulitzer Prize in music for his 12 New Etudes for Piano. His most ambitious composition, which occupied him for 25 years, is a complete setting of William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience, for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, which received its premiere at the Stuttgart Opera in 1984. A recording of the work, featuring the orchestras and choruses of the University of Michigan conducted by Leonard Slatkin, won three Grammy Awards in 2006, for Best Choral Performance, Best Classical Contemporary Composition, and Best Classical Album. In 2007, Musical America named Bolcom composer of the year.
Bolcom has composed three operas, commissioned by the Lyric Opera of Chicago, all of which he wrote with librettist and long-time collaborator, Arnold Weinstein. McTeague (1992), conducted by Dennis Russell Davies, starred Ben Heppner and Catherine Malfitano. Weinstein collaborated with playwright Arthur Miller on the libretto for A View from the Bridge (1999), which was subsequently presented by the Metropolitan Opera in 2002. His third opera, A Wedding, is based on the film of the same name by Robert Altman, who worked on the libretto with Weinstein. It received its premiere in Chicago in 2004. His latest opera, Dinner at Eight (based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber), was premiered in March 2017 at Minnesota Opera. The European premiere is scheduled at the Wexford Opera Festival, fall 2018.
From 1973 to 2008, Bolcom taught at the University of Michigan. He became a full professor there in 1983, and in 1994 he was named the Ross Lee Finney Distinguished University Professor of Music. Bolcom also holds honorary doctorates from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Albion College.