1st Music 18 Commission Winners



Emily Doolittle

Princeton doctoral student Emily Doolittle recently finished a set of three commissioned pieces for Tafelmusik. One piece, for the full ensemble, is called green notes; another, for just the string section, is called falling still; a third, for viola d’amore and soprano, is called Virelais. After the three pieces are performed at the Scotia Music Festival, (May 27-June 10, 2001), where Doolitle serves as Composer-in-Residence, she will turn her attention to the First Music Commission for the New York Youth Symphony.

Emily has already used her ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer’s Award money to buy a new iBook laptop computer.



Anthony Cheung
Photo by Mei-Chi Cheung

Harvard freshman Anthony Cheung‘s chamber opera AS IS: Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky in L.A. was given its premiere at the Agassiz Theater on May 10, 2001 as part of “VI-2,” a project involving six undergraduate composers. The short chamber opera, for which Cheung wrote the libretto, centers around a fictitious meeting between the two composers. “Stravinsky and Vera visit Schoenberg and Gertrude at Schoenberg’s home – it’s pretty ridiculous,” Cheung explained. “They end up singing about painting and ping-pong.”

Another piece of Cheung’s, No Unnecessary Noise, was given its first performance by the Auros Group for New Music on April 29, 2001. The piece, which Cheung describes as “a polymetric fugue,” was inspired by a visit to New York where the composer saw signs warning of fines for making “unnecessary noise.”



John Kaefer
Photo by Lou Ouzer

“I am continually fascinated by the relationship between music and art,” writes composer John Kaefer. He feels that a style drawn from the visual arts – the mosaic – is reflected in his compositional style, in particular in his First Music 18 piece, entitled Mosaic. “The principles behind the mosaic can be translated into my compositional language. For example, the use of the pipe organ, along with an orchestra tutti, will project a sense of grandness and strength. On the other hand, small pointillistic details in the winds and strings will provide subtle changes in color.”

Mosaic will be a “concert opener,” but Kaefer asserts that he is trying to avoid the tried and true approach to the genre. In addition to making use of the Carnegie Hall pipe organ, Kaefer wants to use groups of players antiphonally around the hall. “I haven’t gotten permission to do that yet,” he laughed.

Kaefer is currently finishing a substantial four-movement piano concerto. The composer, who has played the piano since he was eight, claims that it is not a “typical Romantic concerto in the sense of the soloist versus the orchestra. There are soloistic parts, certainly, but the pianist also plays as part of the orchestra.” The piece will be approximately 25 minutes long. Kaefer is currently finishing his Master’s degree at Yale; this coming fall, he will begin studies at Juilliard with Robert Beaser as one of the C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellows.



Michael Klingbeil
Photo courtesy of the composer

Michael Klingbeil plans to write a chamber work for oboe, clarinet, piano, violin, and cello to fulfill the terms of his First Music 18 commission. “It’s a Pierrot ensemble with an oboe instead of a flute, and no percussion,” he explained. Klingbeil is keeping high school students in mind as he writes, but he doesn’t think that will have a profound effect on the final result. “I know that [the students] are going to be talented people,” he explained. “I want it to be something that they can get something out of, but I also want to be able to deal with the musical ideas I’m thinking of.”

The working title of Klingbeil’s piece is Defractions.. At the moment, he is working out what he calls the “harmonic structure” of the piece,” mapping out a trajectory, keeping in mind pitch areas and register. “I have rough ideas of how long I will stay in certain harmonic areas, but there is flexibility, depending on how the trajectory works itself out in the final composition.”

Klingbeil plans on using the ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composers Award money to attend various festivals and conferences to present his music.