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Brummies, Strads & “Modernist Marines”

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Between April 7 and 12, the Library of Congress will present a lineup of performances, talks and educational programs dedicated to the Library’s collection riches in contemporary music. The week features leading performers of the international music scene, the world premieres of two Library of Congress commissions, and the Washington, D.C., premiere of American composer Elliott Carter’s final work, Epigrams.

April 7 marks the beginning of the Library’s Oliver Knussen residency. A British composer and conductor, Knussen is widely respected as a creative genius and distinguished interpreter of contemporary music. The residency is made possible by the Library’s Dina Koston and Roger Shapiro Fund for New Music, with additional support from the British Council. Instruments from the Library’s Stradivari collection will be used in performance throughout the residency.

Courtesy of Oliver Knussen
Courtesy of Oliver Knussen

Presently artist-in-association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Knussen will be joined for two concerts by Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) in its Washington, D.C., debut. The group’s April 8 concert will be attended by the Lord Mayor of Birmingham (England), Councillor Mike Leddy, and, his wife, the Lady Mayoress, Mrs. Pauline Leddy.

Founded in 1987 under the leadership of Sir Simon Rattle, artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic, BCMG is a flagship British contemporary music ensemble. The group’s two concerts will feature works commissioned by the Library’s Koussevitzky Music Foundation and works with original manuscripts housed in the Music Division, including Schoenberg’s Serenade and Stravinsky’s Septet.

Oliver Knussen conducts the April 8th concert, which features mezzo-soprano Lucy Schaufer, baritone Andrew Sauvageau and Knussen’s own Ophelia Dances. On April 11, British pianist and composer Huw Watkins joins BCMG for the world premiere of American composer Marc Neikrug’s Tiger’s Nest for piano trio, a Library of Congress commission, and the D.C. premiere of Carter’s Epigrams.

Courtesy of BCMG
Courtesy of BCMG

Knussen and BCMG will lead a special composition workshop for four student composers from the University of Maryland and the Peabody Conservatory, Geoff Sheil, Zachary Konick, Natalie Draper and James Young. The students were invited to compose works specifically for BCMG. The ensemble will perform these works in the Coolidge Auditorium on April 7.

Local favorite “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band will return to the Library on April 12 as part of the Knussen residency. The concert was curated by Knussen and features gems from the wind-ensemble repertoire, including Stravinsky’s “Symphonies of Wind Instruments,” Lieberson’s “Wind Messengers” and “Wind Rose” by Carter, which is dedicated to Knussen.

Courtesy of "The President's Own"
Courtesy of “The President’s Own”

On April 10, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center presents an evening of innovative contemporary music. The concert features the world premiere of a string quintet by leading Finnish composer, Einojuhani Rautavaara, commissioned by the Library. Closing the evening is French composer Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, which he composed while imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp during World War II.

Einojuhani Rautavaara (by Sakarai Viika, Ondine Records)
Einojuhani Rautavaara (by Sakarai Viika, Ondine Records)
For more information, visit or call 7-5502.
The Oliver Knussen residency is presented in association with: BRITISH COUNCIL

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