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Curtis 20/21 Ensemble Presents Ode to Napoleon on February 2

Streamed live on YouTube (Curtis.edu/YouTube)

PHILADELPHIA, PA—January 29, 2019—The Curtis 20/21 Ensemble presents Ode to Napoleon, the second of three programs in the 2018–19 season, on Saturday, February 2 at 8 p.m. in Gould Rehearsal Hall. A preconcert discussion will begin at 7:30 p.m. The program and discussion will be streamed live at Curtis.edu/YouTube.

Curtis alumnus Peter Serkin (Piano ’64) and the Vera Quartet, Curtis’s string quartet in residence, will join the ensemble for the performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon, a work written in 1942 in response to the rise of authoritarianism and World War II. The program features other works that explore the intersection of music and current events, including Synchrony by Curtis alumnus Jonathan Bailey Holland (Composition ’96), which explores Holland’s emotional reactions while witnessing news reports of police violence against unarmed African-Americans throughout the country.

Flowers in the Desert
by David Ludwig (Composition ’01), artistic director of the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble and Gie and Lisa Liem Artistic Advisor to the President, responds to gun violence in America. David Lang’s Illumination Rounds and Nina Young’s Spero lucem round out this program exploring political messages in music.

The preconcert discussion, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Gould Rehearsal Hall, features David Ludwig in conversation with Jonathan Bailey Holland and Nina Young, as they explore the intersection of politics and music. Following intermission, Ludwig offers a brief presentation on Ode to Napoleon, alongside Jeanne M. McGinn, Curtis’s Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Chair of Liberal Arts.

Tickets for $20 are available from Curtis Patron Services at (215) 893-7902 or Curtis.edu/Performances. The concert and preconcert conversation will also be streamed live at 7:30 p.m. EST on YouTube (Curtis.edu/YouTube) and Facebook Live (Facebook.com/CurtisInstitute).

Recognized as an artist of passion and integrity, the distinguished American pianist Peter Serkin is one of the most thoughtful and individualistic musicians appearing before the public. His rich musical heritage extends back several generations: His grandfather was violinist and composer Adolf Busch and his father was pianist Rudolf Serkin. In 1958, at age eleven, he entered the Curtis Institute of Music, studying with Lee Luvisi, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, and Rudolf Serkin. He later continued his studies with Ernst Oster, Marcel Moyse, and Karl Ulrich Schnabel.

In 1959 Mr. Serkin made his Marlboro Music Festival and New York City debuts with conductor Alexander Schneider. Invitations soon followed to perform with the Cleveland Orchestra and George Szell and with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy. He has since performed with the world’s major symphony orchestras. Also a dedicated chamber musician, Mr. Serkin has collaborated with the Budapest, Guarneri, and Orion string quartets; and with TASHI, of which he was a founding member. In 2017 he toured Europe with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and conductor Osmo Vänskä. 

An avid proponent of the music of many of the 20th and 21st century’s most important composers, Mr. Serkin has offered many important world premieres, including works written for him by Toru Takemitsu, Peter Lieberson, Oliver Knussen, Charles Wuorinen, Elliott Carter, and Alexander Goehr. He teaches at Bard College Conservatory of Music and the Longy School of Music.

Flexible in size and scope, the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble 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, 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.” The Curtis 20/21 Ensemble is led by artistic director David Ludwig.



CURTIS 20/21 ENSEMBLE: Ode to Napoleon

Saturday, February 2 at 8 p.m.

Gould Rehearsal Hall, Lenfest Hall, 1616 Locust Street, Philadelphia

Preconcert discussion at 7:30 p.m.



Illumination Rounds
Claire Bourg, violin
Ying Li, piano


Sarrah Bushara, oboe
Maggie O'Leary, bassoon
Emma Carina Meinrenken, violin
John Lee, cello
Jiacheng Xiong, piano


Spero Lucem
Emma Carina Meinrenken, violin
Grace Takeda, viola
John Lee, cello
Jiacheng Xiong, piano


Flowers in the Desert
Andrew Moses, clarinet
John Lee, cello
Jiacheng Xiong, piano


Ode to Napoleon
Kendra Broom, speaker
Vera Quartet
Peter Serkin (’64), piano

Tickets: $20, sold by Curtis Patron Services at (215) 893-7902 or Curtis.edu/Performances.

Streamed live on YouTube (Curtis.edu/YouTube) and Facebook Live (Facebook.com/CurtisInstitute) at 7:30 p.m. EST.

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


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