June/July 2008 Bonus Bytes

June 1, 2008

Sebastian Currier

Sebastian currier With the presentation of the 2007 Grawemeyer Award in Music Composition for his chamber ensemble piece Static, Sebastian Currier has clearly been recognized as a major figure in 21st Century American Music.

Born in 1959 in Huntington, Pennsylvania, Sebastian Currier is the product of an unusually musical family. His father was a string player and pedagogue, and both his brother and mother are also composers. He holds Bachelor and Masters degrees in music from the Manhattan School of Music and received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied with Milton Babbitt.

His music has been described by fellow composer and critic David Cleary as “polished without being glib, lucid without being empty and substantial without being forbidding – this is fluid stuff that tantalizes the ear.” The New York Times heralded it as “music with a distinctive voice” and the Washington Post characterized his style as “lyrical, colorful, firmly rooted in tradition, but absolutely new.”

Currier’s music has been performed at major venues worldwide by many acclaimed artists and ensembles.

His music has been enthusiastically embraced by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, for whom he wrote Aftersong, which she has performed extensively in the United States and throughout Europe, including performances at Carnegie Hall in New York, Symphony Hall in Boston, the Barbican in London and the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg. A critic writing in the London Times said: “If all his pieces are as emotionally charged and ingenious in their use of rethought tonality as this, give me more.” He has recently completed a concerto for Ms. Mutter called Time Machines.

His orchestral tour-de-force Microsymph, described by the composer as a large-scale symphony that has been squeezed into only ten minutes, was commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra and premiered by them in Carnegie Hall. It has also been performed by orchestras as varied as the San Francisco Symphony, the Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Eos Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra, and has been recorded by the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra with Hugh Wolff conducting.

A full evening of his chamber music, which included two premieres, was recently presented by the Berlin Philharmonic. Shortly thereafter he returned to Berlin for the premiere of Broken Minuets, performed by harpist Marie-Pierre Langlament and the Oriol Ensemble at the Philharmonie. He won the Grand Prize from the 2005 Van Cliburn Competition’s American Composers Invitational with his piano work Scarlatti Cadences and Brainstorm.

He has also written works that involve electronic media and video. Nightmaze, a multimedia piece based on a text by Thomas Bolt in which the protagonist dreams he is rushing along a dark, enormous highway, where strange road signs loom up only to disappear into the night, has been performed by the Network for New Music in Philadelphia and the Mosaic Ensemble in New York. The Philadelphia Inquirer said “every turn is breathtaking” and The New York Times commented “Currier’s rich and imaginative music sets the right tone, with its fractured and dissonant baroque-like gestures leading off like highway exits into the void and hinting at distant reservoirs of emotion and yearning.” His collaborations with video artist Pavel Wojtasik have been screened at multiple venues, including the Anthology Film Archive and the Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center.  A new Piano Concerto, premiered by pianist Emma Tahmizian with Brad Lubman conducting the Perspectives Ensemble at Miller Theater in New York City in March of 2007, also employs a pre-recorded electronic element.

The recent recording of two of Currier’s string quartets, by the Cassatt Quartet, says Anne Midgette, writing in The New York Times, “…distances the present from the past, causing the listener to think about music itself.” The New World CD was named one of the best recordings of 2006 by The New Yorker magazine.  A new CD of mixed chamber music, recorded by Music from Copland House, which includes the award-winning Static, as well as Verge, Night Time and Variations on “Time & Time Again,” has just been released on the Koch label.

In addition to the 2007 Grawemeyer Award, Currier has received many prestigious awards including the Berlin Prize, Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has also held several residencies at the MacDowell and Yaddo arts colonies. He spent much of the summer of 2007 as composer-in-residence at the Marlboro Music Festival in Marlboro, Vermont. His music is published by Carl Fischer.


List of Works available in the Carl Fischer Catalog


Microsymph (1997)     11’
3(all alt. picc.)/3(eng. hn.)/3(b. cl.)/3; 4/3/3/0; perc.(4), pno, 4-hands (pno. II dbl. cel.), hp.; str.
Score available for sale: SC43

Time’s Hand (1990)     26’
3(picc.)/3(eng. hn.)/3(b. cl.)/3; 4/3/3/1; timp., perc., cel., pno., hp.; str.


Book of Hours (2002)     78’
Solo Violin; sound engineer (electronics realization and production); soprano santoor;
2(1. picc. & alto fl., 2. bass fl.)/2(b. cl.)/a. sax.; 2/2/2/0; perc.(4), hp., kbd. 1(cel.., midi kbd.), kbd. 2(hpschd., pno, cel., midi kbd.); str.

Broken Minuets (2006)     21’
Solo harp and string orchestra

Chamber Concerto (1996)     35’
Solo violin and string orchestra

Piano Concerto (2006)     22’
Solo piano; 1(picc.)/1/1/1; 1/1/1/0; perc., pre-recorded samples; str.

Time Machines (2007)     28’

Solo violin; 2/2/2/2; 4/2/2/0; perc.(2), hp., pno.; str.


Night Mass (2002)     24’
Mixed chorus; 0/3(eng. hn.)/0/2; 2/2/2/b. trb.; perc.(l); str.
Text: excerpts from the Latin Mass and the poem, Incertum, by Thomas Bolt


From a Book of Sombre Pages (1985)     13’
2 fl.(picc.)/2 ob./Eb cl./6 cl./b. cl./2 bn./ 2 a. sax./t. sax.; 4 hn./6 tpt./4 trb./ 2 bar./2 tba.; timp., perc.; db.


Nightmaze (2005)     45’
Spoken voice, 4-channel electronics, video projections; fl., cl.(b. cl.), trp., pno., digital kbd., perc., vln., vlc., db.
Text: Thomas Bolt


Aerialism (2004)     20’
Cello, piano

Broken Consort (1996)     15’
Flute, oboe, violin, cello, 2 guitars

Clockwork (1989)     20’
Violin, piano

Crossfade (2005)     14’
2 harps

Entanglement (1992)    28’
Violin, piano

Frames (1998)     26’
Cello, piano

Intimations (1989)     14’
Clarinet, piano

Night Time (1998)     14’
Violin, harp
Score and parts available for sale: MXE3

Pulse (2002)     16’
Viola, guitar

Quartetset (1995)     45’
String quartet

Quiet Time (2004)     22’
String quartet

REM (2003)      2’
String quartet

Remix (2005)     12’
Flute, clarinet, horn, percussion, piano, harp, violin, viola, cello, double bass, pre-recorded electronics

Static (2003)     27’
Flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano
Score and parts available for sale: MXE15F(Score/Piano), MXE15P(set of remaining parts)

String Quartet No. 2 (1987)     19’
String quartet

Uncertainties (1993)     19’
Viola, piano

Variations on “Time and Time Again” (2000)      9’
Flute, piano
Available for sale: W2562

Verge (1997)     17’
Clarinet, violin, piano
Score and parts available for sale: MXE2

Whispers (1996)     13’
Flute, cello, piano, percussion
Score and parts available for sale: MXE4


Vocalissimus (1991)     30’
Soprano voice; flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, percussion
Text: Wallace Stevens


The Nymphs Are Departed (2006)
High voice, piano
Text: T. S. Eliot


Assertions/Reflections (1988)     14’

Brainstorm (1994)      4’
Available for sale: PL123 (with Scarlatti Cadences)

Color Wheel (1999)

Links (2001)      8’

Partita (1986)      22’

Piano Sonata (1988)     27’

Scarlatti Cadences (1997)      6’

Available for sale: PL123 (with Brainstorm)
Theo’s Sketchbook (1992)     32’

Published editions are available from any music retailer.
Other Chamber works (for less than 10 instruments) and solo works available for sale from the publisher as custom print editions. Larger works are available from the rental department.