Featuring a N.Y. Premiere by Bryce Dessner
“One of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music.” – NPR on yMusic
“Bryce Dessner is a man who slips in and out of musical guises with disarming ease…this is gorgeous and full-hearted music.” – NPR
yMusic applies its virtuosic execution and unique ensemble configuration (string trio, flute, clarinet, and trumpet) to its largest commissioned work to date: the N.Y. Premiere of a composition by Bryce Dessner, one of today’s foremost composers. Also receiving its N.Y. Premiere is Nico Muhly’s highly kinetic and agitated Clip. The two premiering works are presented alongside compositions by Gabriel Kahane, Andrew Norman, and Gabriella Smith.
The new album-length work by Bryce Dessner was commissioned in 2016 through BAC’s inaugural Cage Cunningham Fellowship, established to support artists who embody John Cage and Merce Cunningham’s commitment to artistic innovation. The 2016-17 Fellow, celebrated Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov, generously applied his entire $50,000 award to commission five composers he identified at the forefront of music innovation—including Dessner.
Bryce Dessner: People Variations, N.Y. Premiere, 2018
Nico Muhly: Clip, N.Y. Premiere, 2017
Gabriel Kahane: Bluets, 2017
Gabriella Smith: Tessellations, 2018
Andrew Norman: Caught, 2017
Leadership support for music programming provided by the Anne and Chris Flowers Foundation and the Thompson Family Foundation.
Hailed by Performance Today as “one of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music,” yMusic is a group of six New York City instrumentalists flourishing in the overlap between the pop and classical worlds.
Their virtuosic execution and unique configuration (string trio, flute, clarinet, and trumpet) has attracted the attention of high profile collaborators—from Paul Simon to Ben Folds to Jose Gonzalez—and inspired an expanding repertoire of original works by some of today’s foremost composers, including Nico Muhly and Andrew Norman. Their 2016-17 season was the most high-profile to date, featuring yMusic’s Carnegie Hall debut, a groundbreaking new collaborative album with composer Son Lux and producer Thomas (Doveman) Bartlett, and premieres of a half-dozen newly-commissioned works, including a major new piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, and MacArthur grantee Chris Thile’s first instrumental work written without his own performative element. In a particularly noteworthy week, the group performed a set with Paul Simon at the Eaux Claires Festival, became the first chamber music guests in the 50+ year history of the Sarasota Music Festival, and joined Bruce Hornsby at his Funhouse Festival. Additionally, yMusic joined producer Blake Mills in recording a cover of God Only Knows with John Legend for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards’ “In Memoriam” segment. Other season highlights included an Elbphilharmonie performance in collaboration with Anohni (formerly Antony & the Johnsons), and further work on the development film project in collaboration with choreographer Bill T. Jones and composer Marcos Balter. To date, yMusic has released three full-length solo albums, 2017’s First, 2014’s Balance Problems and 2011’s Beautiful Mechanical, Time Out New York’s #1 Classical Record of that year. In addition to performing their own repertoire, yMusic serves as a ready-made collaborative unit for bands and songwriters, and have lent their distinctive sound to dozens of albums, most recently The Tallest Man on Earth with yMusic.
Bryce Dessner is one of the most sought-after composers of his generation, with a rapidly expanding catalog of works commissioned by leading ensembles. Known to many as a guitarist with The National, he is also active as a curator – a vital force in the flourishing realm of new creative music.
His orchestral, chamber, and vocal compositions have been commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, BAM Next Wave Festival, Barbican Centre, Edinburgh International Festival, Sydney Festival, eighth blackbird, Sō Percussion, New York City Ballet, and many others. Bridging musical languages and communities comes naturally to Dessner, born 1976 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University. In the late 90's, he formed the adventurous instrumental quartet Clogs, and in 2001, co-founded the critically acclaimed, Grammy-nominated indie rock band The National. Aheym, commissioned by Kronos Quartet, was a breakthrough work. St. Carolyn by the Sea followed in 2014 on Deutsche Grammophon, featuring the lyrical title work and two other Dessner compositions performed by the Copenhagen Philharmonic under Andre de Ridder. May 2015 marked the release on Brassland of Music for Wood and Strings, an album-length work performed by Sō Percussion. MusicNow, the eclectic Cincinnati-based music festival Dessner founded in 2006, recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Other notable projects include Quilting, a 17-minute score co-commissioned with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, which premiered in May 2015 by the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, and The Most Incredible Thing, a ballet created by Dessner, Justin Peck, and Marcel Dzama, premiered in February 2016 by the New York City Ballet. In 2016, he premiered a new piece entitled Wires commissioned for the Ensemble Intercontemporain and Matthias Pintscher, as well as recent solo works for violinists Pekka Kuusisto and Jennifer Koh, and a concerto for renowned pianists Katia and Marielle Labeque which is touring across Europe in 2018-2019. In Los Angeles in March 2019, Roomful of Teeth and Brad Wells will present a new piece by Dessner integrating the work of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, directed by Daniel Fish with libretto by Dessner and Korde A. Tuttle. Future projects include a major orchestral commission, a stage work with Enda Walsh, and a concerto for Pekka Kusisto.
Photos: Shervin Lainez