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Ensemble 20/21 Begins New Virtual Season March 6

Condensed online season begins with Alvin Singleton residency and Julian Eastman project

PHILADELPHIA, PA—February 26, 2021—Ensemble 20/21, the contemporary music ensemble at the Curtis Institute of Music, begins a new season with three online concerts running from March 6 through May 15. These free, streamed performances are the culmination of virtual activities and research by Curtis’s student performers on the music of Alvin Singleton and Julius Eastman, and a guest appearance by harpist Coline Marie Orliac.

The season opens with Portrait of Alvin Singleton, featuring a performance of the composer’s complete Argoru series for solo instruments as recorded by Curtis students. Audiences can view the concert on-demand with advance registration beginning Saturday, March 6 or watch the concert via broadcast on Sunday, March 7 at 3 p.m. ET on YouTube (Curtis.edu/YouTube) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CurtisInstitute). “Argoru” comes from the Twi language spoken in Ghana and means “to play.” These pieces span a compositional period from 1968 through 2002 and highlight the virtuosity and versatility of solo piano, strings, woodwinds, and percussion instruments.

As Ensemble 20/21’s current composer in residence, Mr. Singleton will participate in master classes, specifically for the school’s six composition students, and to the entire student body of approximately 150 about his own music. He will also provide individual coachings to the eight performers of the Argoru series leading up to the concert. Mr. Singleton will soon compose a ninth Argoru installment for solo violin, commissioned by the Curtis Institute of Music with the support of the Allen R & Judy Brick Freedman Venture Fund for Music.

Ensemble 20/21’s season continues with a performance of Julius Eastman’s The Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc on Tuesday, March 23. Mr. Eastman, a 1963 piano graduate of Curtis, pushed his minimalist aesthetic with this piece for ten cellos, the score of which was lost, as was much of his work. It has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, following a transcription by Clarice Jensen. The piece will be performed by Curtis’s entire cello studio in a special video project.

The season concludes on Saturday, May 15 with a concert featuring 2010 harp alumna Coline Marie Orliac. She will perform new works commissioned from fellow Curtis alumnae Dai Wei, Rene Orth, and Kat Souponetsky. Additional program details are forthcoming.

Free, advance registration for each concert and more information is available at Curtis.edu/Ensemble.

Flexible in size and scope, Ensemble 20/21 performs a wide range of music from the 20th and 21st centuries, including works by Curtis students and alumni. The ensemble has appeared at major U.S. venues such as the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and the Miller Theatre, as well as international venues, including the Intimacy of Creativity festival in Hong Kong. The ensemble has presented concert portraits of iconic composers in residence Unsuk Chin, John Corigliano, George Crumb, Krzysztof Penderecki, Augusta Read Thomas, and Chen Yi, among many others. Of the ensemble’s Joan Tower portrait program, the New York Times wrote, “Ms. Tower could hardly have hoped for more passionate performances.” Ensemble 20/21 is led by artistic director David Serkin Ludwig.

Alvin Singleton was born in Brooklyn, New York and completed his studies at New York University and Yale University. As a Fulbright scholar, he studied with Goffredo Petrassi at Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. After living and working in Europe for 14 years, Mr. Singleton returned to the United States to become composer in residence with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, a post he held from 1985 to 1988. He subsequently served as the Unisys composer in residence with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 1996 to 1997, composer in residence with the Ritz Chamber Players from 2002 to 2003, and composer in residence in Tirana, Albania. In Spring 2004 Mr. Singleton joined the American Composers Orchestra as the “Music Alive” composer in residence and artistic advisor for the Improvise! Festival. He has also served as visiting professor of composition at the Yale University School of Music.

Mr. Singleton’s music is notable for combination of influences and moments of theatricality and surprise. He has worked extensively with major orchestras worldwide and has written significant works for chamber and vocal ensembles, as well as works for the theater. His works have been premiered by such renowned ensembles as VocalEssence, Imani Winds, the Momenta Quartet, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Astral Artists, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chamber Choir, and the American Composers Orchestra with Ursula Oppens at Carnegie Hall, and the Youth Symphonic Orchestra of Russia. Notable commissions include those from the ASCAP Foundation and Spivey Hall, the Orchestra of the League of Composers, the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation, and the American Composers Orchestra.

Mr. Singleton is the recipient of a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship. Other awards include the Kranichsteiner Musikpreis from the city of Darmstadt, Germany; the Musikprotokoll Kompositionspreis from Austrian Radio, which he received twice; the Mayor’s Fellowship in the Arts award from the city of Atlanta; and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2014, Singleton was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Mr. Singleton’s music is recorded on the Albany Records, Elektra/Nonesuch, First Edition, Tzadik, and Innova labels. Sweet Chariot was released in July 2014 on Albany Records and is the third album in the label’s series devoted to his music.

The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians to engage a local and global community through the highest level of artistry. For nearly a century Curtis has provided each member of its small student body with an unparalleled education alongside musical peers, distinguished by a “learn by doing” philosophy and personalized attention from a faculty that includes a high proportion of actively performing musicians. To ensure that admissions are based solely on artistic promise, Curtis makes an investment in each admitted student so that no tuition is charged for their studies. In a typical year, Curtis students hone their craft through more than 200 orchestra, opera, and solo and chamber music offerings in Philadelphia and around the world.





Portrait of Alvin Singleton
Available for on-demand streaming Saturday, March 6

Broadcast: Portrait of Alvin Singleton
Sunday, March 7 at 3 p.m. ET on YouTube (Curtis.edu/YouTube) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CurtisInstitute)

  Zitong Wang, piano
  Matthew Christakos, cello
  Calvin Mayman, flute
  Hae Sue Lee, viola
  Simon Bakos, bass clarinet
  Yoonseo Kang, marimba
  Hamza Able, vibraphone
  Julien Bélanger, snare drum

Registration: Free; register for on-demand streaming at Curtis.edu/Ensemble.


The Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc
Available for on-demand streaming Saturday, March 20


JULIUS EASTMAN                  The Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc


Registration: Free; register for on-demand screening at Curtis.edu/Ensemble.


Generous support for Ensemble 20/21 is provided by the Daniel W. Dietrich II Foundation.



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