Carnegie Mellon University

School of Music

Where artistry and innovation share center stage


April 12, 2011


PITTSBURGH—The imaginative, eclectic world of sound, characterized by the tintinnabuli of Arvo Pärt and the pluralistic, modernist work of noted composer Noel Zahler, will be presented when the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic takes the stage at 8 p.m., Friday, April 8 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The program includes the American premiere of “Silhouette,” a new orchestral piece by Pärt, and a “first performance” by Zahler titled “Symphony.” The “Fifth Symphony” by Bohuslav Martinu and Ottorino Respighi’s “Pines of Rome” complete the program. A preview concert will be held in Pittsburgh at 8 p.m., Wednesday, April 6 at the Carnegie Music Hall. The magnificent beauty of the Eiffel Tower inspired Pärt to write “Silhouette.” He said, “The piece came out short and light, like a dance, a waltz, something dizzying.” Pärt, 75, was born in Tallinn, Estonia. Frustrated with Soviet resistance to his music, he moved to West Berlin in 1980. Pärt has invented a distinctive technique he calls “tintinntabuli,” in which he focuses on a single triad, developing two simultaneous voices as one line. In 2000, he was nominated as the 14th International Composer by the Royal Academy of Music in London. He also received the “Contemporary Music Award” at the 2003 Classical Brit Awards held in Royal Albert Hall in London. Zahler, head of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music, is an accomplished composer with works in a variety of genres. “Symphony” is a one-movement work for a “grand orchestra” lasting about 12 minutes. The piece is modernist in its derivation but shares certain qualities found in the spectral school of composition. The entire work is centered around an eight note harmony presented at the outset of the composition, which is transformed throughout the piece with each choir of the orchestra building to a major climax, after which the work redefines its path back to its origin. His compositions have been performed and recorded internationally in Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Norway. Martinu is a composer born in the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) who immigrated to the United States, fleeing the German invasion of World War II. His “Fifth Symphony,” composed after WWII, came at a time when Czechoslovakia was liberated and before the Iron Curtain fell across Europe. This piece is romantic in style. The second movement, a larghetto, is particularly attractive, both in its thematic material and its orchestration. The Italian composer Respighi’s “Pines of Rome” is a composition of what he describes as his “Roman Trilogy.” Each of the three movements depicts the pine trees in different locations in Rome at different times of day. The first movement portrays noisy children playing soldiers and marching in the pine groves. The second movement is a majestic hymn, representing pine trees near a catacomb in Campagna. The third part is set near a temple on the hill of the Roman God Janus. The Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic is made up of students from around the world and has been received enthusiastically in Carnegie Hall in New York, Severance Hall in Cleveland and Boston’s Symphony Hall. In 2008, the Philharmonic played a robust program at the Kennedy Center, including Giacinto Scelsi’s ethereal “Quattro Pezzi” from 1959, for chamber orchestra. Stephen Brookes of the Washington Post said, “The Carnegie’s [Mellon Philharmonic] reading of the provocative ‘Quattro Pezzi’ (whose four sections each consist of a single tone) was exceptionally beautiful, a slow blossoming of elegant sound worlds shimmering with light and grace — enough to make a believer out of anyone.” The Philharmonic has professional recordings on Mode Records, New World Records, New Albion and Carnegie Mellon record labels. CMU’s School of Music provides an education that produces outstanding musicians who are skilled, knowledgeable, creative and articulate. At the same time, CMU offers its musicians the unique opportunity to broaden their educational base, while preparing them for professional careers in music.