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 Composer Judith Lang Zaimont premieres 'Solar Traveller' at SRU 



April 15, 2010

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab


Composer Judith Lang Zaimont premieres 'Solar Traveller' at SRU 


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's music department is using a $500 MetLife Creative Connections grant from the Meet the Composer program to bring composer Judith Lang Zaimont to campus for the performance of a specially commissioned work and a number of lectures.

           The lectures are April 29-May 2 in Swope Music Hall The SRU Wind Ensemble concert, under the direction of Brian Meixner, assistant professor of music, is at 2:30 p.m. in Miller Auditorium and will feature the premiere of Zaimont's latest composition "Solar Traveller." Nanette Kaplan Solomon, SRU professor of music, will be the piano soloist.

           The work is a collaborative project commissioned for presentation at a number of locations, including the Peabody Conservatory of Music, the Eastman School of Music, Indiana State University, Shepherd University in West Virginia, Louisiana State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and SRU. 

           Zaimont is internationally recognized for her music's distinctive style, characterized by expressive strength and dynamism. A Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and 2003 Aaron Copland Award winner, she has enjoyed a distinguished career as composer of more than 100 works spanning all genres, including performances by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore and Mississippi symphonies, Berlin and Czech Radio symphonies, Slovak National Philharmonic and the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra. 

           Her music is widely performed throughout the U.S. and Europe and has been recorded for the Naxos, Koch International Classics, Harmonia Mundi, Arkiv Music, Albany, MSR Classics, Leonarda and 4Tay labels.
           Now living in Arizona, Zaimont is actively commissioned, the subject of 16 doctoral dissertations and often featured as composer at U.S. festivals and residencies. Her honors include those from the National Endowments, the Bush Foundation, IAWM, CBDNA, Maryland and New York State arts fellowships, the Andrew G. Mellon Foundation and several first-prize, gold medals in international composition. 

           In 2009, she was a composer-in-residence at the Eastman School of Music, Murray State University, Peabody Conservatory and Indiana State University. Her American Music Teacher magazine article "Embracing New Music" was named 2009 Article of the Year by MTNA.
           She is a distinguished educator, writer and editor-in-chief of the book series The Musical Woman: An International Perspective.

           Zaimont has taught at CUNY's Queens College and Hunter College, the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Johns Hopkins University, Adelphi University and the University of Minnesota.

           The collaborative composition project that will bring the composer to SRU is headed by Kaplan Solomon, who has recorded several of Zaimont's works, including "Calendar Collection" and "Bubble-Up Rag for Flute and Piano," on her previously released CDs.

           Zaimont contacted Solomon in 2008 asking her to be part of a consortium for commissioning performers for a large-scare concerto for piano and wind ensemble she was writing.

           Solomon saw the potential and opportunity and applied for an SRU Faculty/Student Research Grant as part of a program to premiere Zaimont's work on campus and have the composer work with SRU music students as well as address the regional community as part of her visit. 

           Solomon provided significant input to the composition. "As the composer was beginning her creative process, she asked detailed questions ranging from which composers and concerti had reached me on an emotional level, to what types of pianistic figurations and sonorities I like to play," Solomon said. "I can see some of my answers to her questions in the score." 

           She said the work has taken considerable practice and she is looking forward to the performance.

           Solomon, who joined the SRU faculty in 1977, performs frequently as soloist and chamber musician. She has presented lecture-recitals at the College Music Society national meetings in San Diego, Savannah, Cleveland, San Juan, Denver, Kansas City, Miami and Quebec City, and has performed at the international conferences in Berlin, Vienna, Kyoto, Limerick, Costa Rica and Madrid. Her involvement with the works of women composers has led to invitations to perform at several feminist theory and music conferences, the American Music/American Women Symposium in Boulder, Colo., the Athena Festival in Murray, Ky., as well as at eight of the International Festivals of Women Composers at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. 

          She has been a soloist with orchestras in Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and a featured artist with the Butler, Youngstown [Ohio] and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras. 

          Solomon has also performed at the Phillips Collection and the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., Wigmore Hall in London, the Lincoln Center Library in New York City and the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.

          She received her early training as a scholarship student at the Juilliard School. She received a bachelor of arts degree from Yale College, her master of music from the Yale School of Music and her doctor of musical arts degree from Boston University.

           "Solar Traveller" is described as "at times virtuosic, at times lyrical, with some astringent harmonies and biting rhythms, but essentially very powerful and lush, and challenging not only for the soloist, but for the members of the ensemble as well."

           "This is a very difficult work," said Meixner. "It is in three movements and the piano solo is extremely difficult; but, it is coming together. The 30-minute piece is a little bit longer than usual works for wind ensemble. We typically do not encounter pieces of this duration."

           "This piece is challenging technically for the ensemble, and it takes a lot of coordination to put it together with the pianist. We are heading into the homestretch focused on the piece, and our students are doing a terrific job. They are proving they are capable of performing works of this magnitude and difficulty," he said.

           As part of the May 2 performance, Zaimont will offer a pre-concert lecture about her concerto at 1:30 p.m. Other selections on the program are "Asphalt Cocktail" by John Mackey, "Ride" by Sam Hazo, "Sunrise at Angel's Gate" by Philip Sparke, and "Symphony for Band" by Morton Gould. 

           During her campus visit, Zaimont will present an open lecture for the University and community titled "Considering STYLE" at 4 p.m. April 29 in Swope Recital Hall and will visit music theory classes and work with composition students April 30. She will also spend time with the wind ensemble as part of its dress rehearsal. 

           Her residency is supported in part by a Meet the Composer MetLife Creative Connections grant. Leadership support for Meet The Composer's MetLife Creative Connections program is generously provided by MetLife Foundation. Additional support is provided by The Amphion Foundation, Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund, BMI Foundation, Inc., Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc., The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, Jerome Foundation, media The foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and Virgil Thomson Foundation, Ltd. 


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives. -

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