Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
This program brings a trio of American classics to the Riverwalk Stage. Soprano Jessica Aszodi sings Samuel Barber’s touching Knoxville, Summer of 1915, followed by the original ballet version of Copland’s Appalachian Spring for 13 musicians. The second half features Florence Price’s First Symphony, an unheralded masterpiece of its time. Though much of her music was lost or ignored while she was alive, we’ll bring this towering American composer to center stage.
Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24
Symphony No. 1 in E Minor
Percussionist, conductor, and author Steven Schick was born in Iowa and raised in a farming family. Hailed by Alex Ross in the New Yorker as, “one of our supreme living virtuosos, not just of percussion but of any instrument,” he has championed contemporary percussion music by commissioning or premiering more than one hundred-fifty new works. The most important of these have become core repertory for solo percussion. Schick was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2014.
Steven Schick is artistic director of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. As a conductor, he has appeared with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, Ensemble Modern, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and the Asko/Schönberg Ensemble. He is the curator of, and will be conductor and percussion soloist in, “It’s About Time,” a festival of the San Diego Symphony to be held in January of 2018.
Schick’s publications include a book, “The Percussionist’s Art: Same Bed, Different Dreams,” and many articles. He has released numerous recordings including the 2010 “Percussion Works of Iannis Xenakis,” and its companion, “The Complete Early Percussion Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen” in 2014 (both on Mode). He received the “Diapason d’Or” as conductor (Xenakis Ensemble Music with ICE) and the Deutscheschallplattenkritikpreis, as percussionist (Stockhausen), each for the best new music release of 2015. He was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2014.
Steven Schick is Distinguished Professor of Music and holds the Reed Family Presidential Chair at the University of California, San Diego. He was music director of the 2015 Ojai Festival.
Jessica Aszodi’s career could best be described as genre-bounding and label-defying. The Australian-born, London-based vocalist has premiered dozens of new pieces, performed work that has lain dormant for centuries, devised pieces, projects and festivals, sung roles from the standard operatic repertoire and collaborated with a constellation of artists from the far reaches of the musical palette. Her performances have been described as “thrilling” (LA Times) and “intense” (New York Times). Her voice has been praised for its “utmost security and power” (Chicago Tribune) while the media in her native Australia have dubbed her “one of the finest actress-singers in the country” (The Age).
Her voice has an unusual range, both in terms of colour and pitch, making it possible for her to perform repertoire across genres (from experimental to baroque, folk to opera) and voice types (from contralto works like Boulez’ Le Marteau sans maître to soprano gems like Grisey’sQuatre chants pour franchir le seuil).
She has been a soloist with ensembles as diverse as ICE, the Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras, Pinchgut Opera, the Tirolean Symphony Orchestra, Victorian Opera, Sydney Chamber Opera, and in the chamber series of the San Diego and Chicago Symphony Orchestras. Her operatic roles include Eve (Stockhausen’s Dienstagaus Licht), Socrates (Satie’s Socrates), Aminta (Mozart’s Il re pastore), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Sesto (Guilio Cesare), Popova (Walton’s The Bear), Rose (Elliot Carter’s What Next?) and Echo (Ariadne auf Naxos).
Jessica can be heard on recording for Chandos, ArsPublica and Hospital Hill and has sung in festivals around the world, including Klangspuren, Beethoven Festival Bonn, Vivid Sydney, BIFEM, the Melbourne and Adelaide Festivals, Aldeburgh, Tectonics and Tanglewood. Aszodi has twice been nominated for the Australian Greenroom Awards as ‘best female operatic performer’ - in both the leading and supporting categories. She is co-director of the Resonant Bodies Festival (Australia), artistic associate of BIFEM, and a 2017 artist in residence at ‘High Concept Labs’ (Chicago). She holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Queensland Conservatorium, a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of California, teaches voice, and has written scholarly articles for several books and journals.
Jessica Aszodi is represented by Intermusica worldwide excl. Australia.
See the Festival Orchestra perform Appalachian Spring with Martha Graham Dance Company at Vail Dance Festival on Friday, August 9, 2019.