NMGCS II International Composition Competition Jury
José Serebrier, Jury Chair
José Serebrier, who is today’s most frequently-recorded conductor, established himself as a significant composer as far back as the 1950s. Serebrier’s Symphony No. 3 for string orchestra and soprano vocalise was released on Naxos along with a number of his other works for strings. The Symphony No. 3, “Symphonie Mystique”, also recorded on Naxos, received three GRAMMY nominations, including a nomination for the “Best New Composition of 2004”. BIS recently released a CD entirely devoted to Serebrier’s music and Reference Recordings released “Last Tango Before Sunrise”, a new CD devoted entirely to his compositions.
Serebrier was born in Montevideo, Uruguay of Russian and Polish parents. At the age of nine he began to study the violin, and at age eleven made his conducting debut. He organized and conducted the first youth orchestra in Uruguay, probably the first in Latin America, and toured with them for four years.
Serebrier conducts most major orchestras around the world, and his recordings number well over three hundred. His published compositions, many of them written at an early age, number over one hundred.
Early in his career, Serebrier was the recipient of many of music’s most coveted honors. In 1956 and 1957 he received a United States State Department Fellowship to study composition at the Curtis Institute of Music with Bohuslav Martinu and Vittorio Giannini, and with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood. In 1956 he was awarded a Koussevitzky Foundation Award and in the same year a BMI Young Composers Award for his First Symphony and Quartet for Saxophones. The State Department Fellowship was followed by two consecutive Guggenheim Fellowships in 1957 and 1958. At nineteen, he was the youngest ever to obtain these awards in any field and he retains that title. Serebrier has also been honored with two Dorati Fellowships at the University of Minnesota where he received his MA in 1960 (he graduated from the Curtis Institute in 1958), a Pan American Union Publication Award, and the Ford Foundation American Conductors Project Award, won together with James Levine. Many other awards followed: a Rockefeller Foundation award to be Composer-in-Residence of the Cleveland Orchestra; a Harvard Musical Association Commission Award; a National Endowment for the Arts Commission; a Grammy nomination for his recording of the Fourth Symphony by Charles Ives, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra; the U.K. Music Retailers Association award for best orchestral recording; the Deutsche Schallplatten Award for best orchestral recording, Audiphile Magazine’s award for Best Orchestral Recording for his rendition of Scheherazade with the London Philharmonic, and many others.
Leopold Stokowski conducted the first New York performance of Serebrier’s Elegy for Strings in 1962 at Carnegie Hall, and in 1963 Stokowski opened the American Symphony Orchestra season at Carnegie Hall with the premiere of the Serebrier’s Poema Elegiaco. For the 1968-69 and 69-70 seasons, George Szell named José Serebrier Composer-in-Residence of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Serebrier wrote a multi-media work, Nueve, a concerto for double bass and orchestra and a concerto for accordion and orchestra. Serebrier’s Violin Concerto Winter was premiered at Lincoln Center in New York in 1995 and has since been performed in London, Madrid and many other cities around the world, and recorded twice. Other recent published works include Dorothy & Carmine! for flute and chamber orchestra, At Dusk, in Shadows for solo flute, Night Cry for brass ensemble, George & Muriel for double bass and chorus, Tango in Blue for orchestra, also for string orchestra, and a version for string quartet, pieces for violin and piano etc., Casi un Tango (Almost a Tango) for English horn and strings (all published by Peer Music); Carmen Symphony (winner of the 2004 Latin GRAMMY) after Bizet, published by Chester in its orchestral version, and by Hal Lenard in its version for concert band; orchestrations of Gershwin’s Three Preludes and Lullaby, commissioned by the Gershwin family for Gershwin’s 100th anniversary (published by Warner Music), orchestrations of 14 Songs by Grieg (published by Peters Edition), and the Symphonic Synthesis of the opera The Makropulos Case, published by Universal.
Paola Prestini, Juror
Composer Paola Prestini has collaborated with poets, filmmakers, and scientists in large-scale multimedia works that explore themes ranging from the cosmos to the environment. She created the largest communal VR opera with The Hubble Cantata, was part of the New York Philharmonic’s Project 19 initiative, and has written and produced projects like the eco-documentary The Colorado and the lauded opera theater work Aging Magician. Her compositions have been commissioned and performed at Carnegie Hall, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Kennedy Center, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, among others.
Prestini was the first woman in the Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative with her grand opera Edward Tulane. Her chamber opera Sensorium Ex examines the intersection of artificial intelligence and disability, using non-verbal or non-typical patterns of speech to explore what it means to have voice. Her opera theater work Woman and the Sea, with Karmina Šilec and Royce Vavrek, will be premiered by Carolina Performing Arts and Arizona State University. Additionally, an immersive installation of Prestini’s Houses of Zodiac will run at The Broad in the summer of 2022.
Prestini is the co-founder and artistic director of National Sawdust. She started the Hildegard Competition for emerging female, trans, and non-binary composers, and the Blueprint Fellowship for emerging composers and female mentors with The Juilliard School. She was a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow and a Sundance Institute Film Music Program Fellow, has been in residence at the Park Avenue Armory and MASS MoCA, and is a graduate of the Juilliard School.
Rahilia Hasanova, Juror
Rahilia Hasanova was born in Baku, Azerbaijan. In the world of contemporary classical music, she is known as a prolific composer with a unique and powerful “voice”. The strength of her music is in bridging the two seemingly disparate worlds of Eastern and Western cultures. By combining the essence of her native culture and Eastern traditional music with the contemporary classical music and Western traditions, Rahilia Hasanova creates unparalleled music forms that are as diverse as they are unforgettable. “Hasanova’s works are rich in unique intonations that fit into the macro-space of her compositions as self-sufficientmicrocosms” (Z.Dadashzade). “One of the prominent characteristics of Hasanova’s creations is reaching dramatic register culminations that are expressed through modal-meditative development” (A.Amrahova).
Rahilia Hasanova’s compositions cover a wide range of music genres and instrumentation from chamber music and symphony compositions to opera and ballet. Her music was performed at international festivals and concerts all around the world, including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands, Croatia and Iceland. Also she had solo profile concerts in Azerbaijan, Poland, Germany, the UK, and the USA where she was represented at the contemporary music festival Livewire by her profile concert Space of Sounds and symphony piece The Solitary Voice. Among her recent premieres are the chamber opera Pendulum Clocks, solo compositions Shadow Play, for double bass and Jasmine Petals, for piano, duo-sonata Impulse, for violin and piano (2018-2019).Her symphony piece Lullaby of the Stars was premiered at the Nasimi International Festival in Baku (2019). Rahilia Hasanova’s recent commissioned works include Yurt, for symphony orchestra, Plasma Clusters, for guitar quartet, Pazyryk, for chamber ensemble, Khazri-Gilavar, for clarinet quartet and percussions, Perfect Equilibrium, for string quintet, Penetrations, for solo bass clarinet, Zilli, for chamber ensemble, Extinct Volcanoes, for double bass and piano, Quasars, for string ensemble and piano.