New York’s award-winning student composers and All-State String Orchestra members had the opportunity to work with distinguished Composer-in-Residence Christopher Theofanidis at the All-State Winter Conference held by the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) in December 2013.
Dr. Theofanidis’s music has been performed by many leading orchestras from around the world, including the London Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Moscow Soloists, the National, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit Symphonies, and many others. The New York Times has described his music as “… lyrical, exotic soul-searching. The acoustical echo created solely by means of instruments is fascinating.” He teaches at Yale University.
At the NYSSMA All-State Conference, Dr. Theofanidis taught New York’s award-winning student composers in Composition Coaching Workshops and in the Young Composer Seminar. The two NYSSMA student composition concerts featured solo piano movements by Dr. Theofanidis, performed by SUNY-Fredonia Professor Dr. Dmitri Novgorodsky.
The New York All-State String Orchestra, under the direction of Wake Forest University’s Dr. David Hagy, performed the first movement of Dr. Theofanidis’s Visions and Miracles. Dr. Theofanidis attended two rehearsals of the orchestra, working closely with Dr. Hagy and the students. The students and conductor were enthusiastic about the opportunity.
Dr. Hagy had this to say about the experience: “NYSSMA not only provides students of its all-state ensembles the opportunity to perform music of living composers by programming it and renting the music, but it also hires the composers to come to the rehearsal process and speak to the students and directors about the reasons behind the piece, the intentions of the notations, and answer any questions about the piece. What could inspire the students more than to be involved in the performance of a piece by a world-famous composer WITH HIM/HER THERE! Our experience with Chris Theofanidis was outstanding as he told us he was seeking something very positive after finishing several pieces that were darker emotionally. What a difference in the sound this made! What an experience this was!”
Dr. Theofanidis also enjoyed the experience. He said: “It is hard to overstate the energy at the NYSSMA conference–there was a wonderful combination of the electric energy of youth, and the thoughtful and dedicated energy of the many educators–it was a really wonderful experience. The conference also has an unusual dedication to living music–it makes the music of our time as relevant and exciting to the experience of these young people as the most standard of repertories. Good on them!”
You can watch a video of the New York All-State String Orchestra performing the first movement of Theofanidis’s Visions and Miracles here.
Learn more about NYSSMA’s composition/improvisation program here.
Dr. Daniel Deutsch
NAfME Council for Music Composition Chair
NYSSMA Composition/Improvisation Committee Chair