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Volume 26, Number 7 — July 2019

Three composers speak at Bristol library

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | February 23, 2016

The Arts Alliance Mountain Empire, in cooperation with the Bristol Public Library, continues its Speakers Series Tuesday, March 1 at 7 p.m. The AAME Speakers Series features local and regional personalities sharing their expertise on topics that enrich and encourage the arts and general communities of our region. This series also provides a forum for member organizations of AAME to tell of their contributions to the Mountain Empire region.

This event features three regional composers whose work has gained an audience within and beyond the Mountain Empire. Each composer answers a series of prepared questions, and then the discussion is opened up to the audience for general inquiries.

Scott Gendel is a professional composer, vocal coach and pianist living in Emory, Virginia. Recently, he performed his piece "At Last" with soprano Camille Zamora and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, as part of "An AIDS Quilt Songbook: Sing For Hope," a recording distributed by Naxos Records and benefitting amfAR, The American Foundation for AIDS Research.

Gendel's music is published by Classical Vocal Reprints, ECS Publishing and the Tuba/Euphonium Press. His art songs have been recorded on Albany Records and Naxos, and performed around the world. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts from The University of Wisconsin in 2005, where he also designed and taught an undergraduate composition curriculum.

Upcoming commissioned works include "Seven Princesses and Bear," a ballet for children to be premiered at the San Angelo Civic Ballet in Texas this March, "Advice to Those Like Me, With Hearts Like Kindling" for the Carnegie Hall debut of soprano Melody Moore this May; and "Across The Water" for children's choir, women's choir, flute, guitar and piano, to be premiered by the Madison Youth Choirs at the Aberdeen International Youth Festival in Aberdeen, Scotland this summer. As a pianist and vocal coach, Gendel works regularly as Principal Coach at Madison Opera in Wisconsin, as well as at The Barter Theatre, Opera North, and in collaboration with singers and instrumentalists in recital.

Tennessee-based Swiss composer Maria A. Niederberger's compositions feature a style that draws on the musical and cultural influences of her international life. Her works evoke a sense of fluidity, a shifting and flux between temporary solidity and its dissolution. Niederberger's compositional output encompasses a range of instrumental, vocal and orchestral works. They are performed in the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia.

Her most recent commission is for a contemporary music ensemble, a work to be performed at the Festival Música Hoje in Curtiba, in Brazil in August 2017. She has won the international Miriam Gideon Prize for Musical Composition and the Olga Brose Valente Prize for Excellence in Musical Composition. Her work has been recognized and supported by institutions like the American Music Center, Pro Helvetia (the Swiss National Endowment for the Arts), the International Alliance for Women in Music, the Schindler Foundation, the University of California and East Tennessee State University.

Throughout her career, she has been commissioned to write for numerous international musicians and contemporary music ensembles. Niederberger earned her Ph.D. in theory and composition from Brandeis University, where she studied composition with Martin Boykan, Arthur Berger and Allen Anderson. Further composition teachers included Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Martino at Harvard University. She serves as the chair of the department of music at East Tennessee State University, where she teaches theory and composition.

A Tanzania-born Tennessean, Evelyn Pursley-Kopitzke is a neo-classical composer and lyricist whose extensive opus includes chamber, choral, art, and orchestral works. Her music has been heard from coast to coast and in Europe. She holds a graduate degree in composition and studied with Drs. Margarita Merriman, Barney Childs and Kenneth Jacobs.

She is co-founder of the Greater Tri-Cities Composers' Consortium. She received top honors in the Carton Savage international "I Wage Peace" project. Selected recent works include the Twenty-21 London premiere of her "African Vignettes," the MIT Science Festival premiere of the North Cambridge Family Opera commission "Water from the Lovely Lakes," "Adagio, Beyond the Silence," Soprano and Orchestra; "Expectations," Percussion Solo on 11 instruments; "The Constellations," a symphony; and four movements of "Second Sight," a 2014 commission by The Paramount Chamber Players and Sun-Joo Oh's 2015 premiere of a song cycle "There's Music."

This program in the AAME Speakers Series takes place at the Bristol Public Library, Bristol, Virginia.

Topics: Music

Maria A. Niederberger

Evelyn Pursley-Kopitzke