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University of Chicago New Music Ensemble Features Stacy Garrop’s In Eleanor’s Words, with Mezzo-Soprano Soloist Buffy Baggott

Prominent Chicagoans featured in New Music Ensemble Season Debut Performance.

Chicago, IL, November 04, 2010 --( The University of Chicago New Music Ensemble will perform Chicago-based composer Stacy Garrop’s In Eleanor’s Words – a song cycle written in tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt – on Saturday, November 13 at 8 pm in Fulton Recital Hall (1010 E. 59th Street, Chicago). The performance features acclaimed mezzo-soprano Buffy Baggott, who premiered the work with pianist Amy Briggs, also appearing on the evening’s program. Jennifer Higdon’s flamboyant running the edgE for two flutes and piano and the world premiere of Andrew McManus’ Orbits for viola and piano, performed by the composer and Amy Briggs, round out the bill. Admission is free.

Stacy Garrop’s In Eleanor’s Words features excerpts from six newspaper columns that Eleanor Roosevelt wrote during the course of her very public life. They present the former First Lady’s thoughts and reflections, and span from her earliest articles to almost her last. Garrop adds: “Eleanor served in countless roles throughout her lifetime, including wife, mother, teacher, journalist, First Lady of our country, U.S. delegate to the United Nations, and an ambassador to other nations. The focal point for this song cycle [In Eleanor’s Words] is her “My Day” syndicated newspaper column that ran from 1935 until 1962. The column gave Eleanor a means to communicate to Americans all across the country about a variety of topics, from tidbits about daily life in the White House to the largest political and social topics of her time. Americans communicated with Eleanor by writing letters to her; a number of these letters are included or answered in Eleanor’s columns.”

Originally written for mezzo-soprano and piano, Garrop’s song cycle was re-crafted in 2008 for mezzo and chamber ensemble at the request of David Dzubay, composer and conductor of the Indiana University New Music Ensemble.

California native Buffy Baggott has gained recognition throughout the U.S. as an accomplished and versatile mezzo-soprano. She is an alumnus of the prestigious Lyric Opera Center for American Artists (now known as the Ryan Opera Center) and has appeared numerous times on Lyric Opera of Chicago’s stage, including as Carmen (Carmen), Stephano (Roméo et Juliette), Dryade (Ariadne auf Naxos), Siegrune (Die Walküre), and as three different characters — The Dresser, Schoolboy, and Groom — in Berg’s Lulu. She premiered In Eleanor’s Words at the composer’s request in 2006. That version is soon to be released on Cedille Records.

Composer Andrew McManus (b. 1985) is a doctoral student at the University of Chicago, where he studies with Shulamit Ran and Marta Ptaszynska. He holds a Master of Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where he studied with Robert Morris, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, Allan Schindler and Howard Hanson Visiting Professor Yehudi Wyner. He is also a graduate of Yale University in New Haven, CT, where he studied with Kathryn Alexander, John Halle, Mark Dancigers, Michael Klingbeil and Matthew Suttor. Orbits for viola and piano (2009) is a work about musical gravity. McManus adds: “The viola and piano behave like planetary objects engaged in a gravitational tug-of-war; they pull one another into different tempos and areas of musical material.” Amy Briggs performs with the composer for this premiere.

Pianist Amy Briggs is a Lecturer of Music and the Director of Chamber Music and Noontime Concerts at the University of Chicago. She has established herself as a leading interpreter of the music of living composers, while also bringing a fresh perspective to music of the past. Her latest recording, Tangos for Piano, is a collection of 22 solo piano tangos from Piazzolla, Norgard, Stravinsky, and others.

Jennifer Higdon, born in Brooklyn in 1962, is one of America’s most performed living composers. Higdon conceives of her music more in terms of color, rhythm, and texture than in terms of clear themes and their development. In this way she continues the aesthetic approach of minimalist composers, although her music is not, strictly speaking, minimalist. Higdon cares very much about the sensory effect her music creates; her approachable style has won both audience and critical favor.

Higdon adds: “running the edgE was commissioned by flutists Claudia Anderson and Jill Felber (known as the duo, ZAWA!). I've been friends with both players for quite some time, so when they asked for a work I immediately thought of the ‘sound world’ that makes up this piece.”

The New Music Ensemble is dedicated to the creation and performance of new works, particularly by student and University community composers.

Event Hotline: (773) 702-8069 •

Contact Information
University of Chicago Department of Music
Rashida N. Black

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