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  • March 4, 2013
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Tobias Picker’s Romances and Interludes at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

On March 12, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Symphony presents Tobias Picker's enchanting work for oboe and orchestra Romances and Interludes. The concert features soloist Stephanie Caulder with David Martynuik conducting. Written in 1989,Romances and Interludes was commissioned by the Houston Symphony and its music director Christoph Eschenbach for principle oboist Robert Atherholt. Eschenbach and Atherholt presented the world premiere in 1990.

Romances and Interludes was inspired by Robert Schumann’s Drei Romanzen for oboe and piano. Composed by Schumann in 1849, Drei Romanzen is the only contribution of an original solo work by a major Romantic composer to the entire 19th-century oboe literature. Picker embedded these pieces in his own composition which flows breathlessly through a succession of romances and interludes introduced by a prelude. In April, Indiana University of Pennsylvania Symphony tours Romances and Interludes to the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts in Bowie, MD.

Precise details on the concert are located at www.iup.edu.

For more information about Tobias Picker visit www.tobiaspicker.com or www.schott-music.com.

Tobias Picker
Romances and Interludes (1989)
for oboe and orchestra
2(afl).0.ca.2.2-4.0.0.0-timp.1perc(b.d, 2tam-t, glsp, mar, vib)-hp.pno(cel)-str
24'

 

  • December 3, 2012
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Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne Coming Soon to San Francisco Opera

The much anticipated opera from Tobias Picker, Dolores Claiborne, took one major step closer to becoming a fully realized work with a first full reading of the new opera with piano at the San Francisco Opera on December 4 and 5. Commissioned by San Francisco Opera with a libretto by J.D. McClatchy, Dolores Claiborne is based on the Stephen King novel and will see its world premiere at the San Francisco Opera on September 15, 2013, in association with British theatrical producer Andrew Welch. Mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick creates the title role of Dolores Claiborne and is joined in the cast by sopranos Susannah Biller and Elizabeth Futral, tenors Greg Fedderly and Joel Sorensen, and bass-baritone Wayne Tigges. in his company debut, George Manahan conducts the premiere run and James Robinson, whose previous engagements at the War Memorial Opera House include the 2009 season productions of Il Trittico and Salome, directs. The new production features the work of scenic designer Allen Moyer, costume designer James Schutte, lighting designer Chris Ackerlind and projection designer Greg Emetaz. Picker writes:

Dolores Claiborne is a character destined for the operatic stage—passionate, desperate, trapped. She will do anything to save the daughter who despises her. Pushed to the extreme edge of life, she does what she has to, fearless and forsaken.  I have wanted to write this opera for years. Yes, Stephen King is a master of suspense, but he is also a remarkable reader of human desires and fears. The superb team that San Francisco Opera has assembled allows me to compose a powerful, heart-stopping piece of music theater for a cast of brilliant voices.

Visit www.sfopera.com for more information on San Francisco Opera and Dolores Claiborne.

For more on the life and music of Tobias Picker, go to www.tobiaspicker.com and www.schott-music.com.

 

  • October 31, 2012
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Tobias Picker Named Artistic Director of The Opera San Antonio

Tobias Picker has been named Artistic Director of The Opera San Antonio (TOSA). Hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "our finest composer for the lyric stage,” Picker will lead TOSA through a highly anticipated period of growth and prominence as one of America's leading opera companies.

Picker provides the following remark on his recent appointment:

Obviously as a composer, and known especially for my operas now, I am interested in the art form as a living art, and not strictly as a museum. But I don't want to encourage people to assume that there is going to be lots of scary new modern music and nothing else. I love Puccini, I love all the masters — they will all be represented, but there will be exciting new pieces, too. The programming will feature the best singers in the world. The productions will be on a level as high as the singer. I want the audience to see productions that are theatrically exciting; it has to capture people's imagination, to be something they want to see it has to be terrific.
In other news outside of the opera world, Picker’s The Blue Hula will be performed on November 18 at the City Performance Hall, in Dallas, by the Voices of Change ensemble. In the words of the composer:

I wrote The Blue Hula -- named for an old American dance form -- when I was living in Hawaii in 1980. It is ten minutes long, in three movements and scored for what many composers in the 20th century have come to call 'Pierrot plus percussion.' The same ensemble -- flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano -- which Schönberg used for Pierrot Lunaire,with the addition of percussion, and which instrumentation has become something of a standard 20th-century ensemble.
For details on the performance of Picker’s The Blue Hula, please visit www.voicesofchange.com.

Learn more on Tobias Picker at www.tobiaspicker.com and www.schott-music.com.

Tobias Picker
The Blue Hula (1981)
for chamber ensemble
fl, cl, vib, glsp, mar, pno, vn, vc
10’

 

  • September 26, 2012
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West Coast Premiere of Tobias Picker’s The Encantadas at Jacaranda Music

Jacaranda Music, under the baton of Mark Alan Hilt, presents Tobias Picker’s The Encantadas for narrator and chamber orchestra on October 20 in the work’s first performance on the west coast. Commissioned by the Albany Academy in celebration of their 175th anniversary, the work was premiered by the Albany Symphony Orchestra in 1983 and subsequently arranged for chamber orchestra 1986. Following the footsteps of seminal works such as Stravinsky’s L’histoire du soldat (1918) and Copland’sLincoln Portrait (1942), Picker fashions Herman Melville’s text into an enchanted melodrama. Its success has produced further versions with the English narration translated into Spanish, German, and Japanese.

The Encantadas (Enchanted Isles) consists of six-movements each deploying potent descriptions of life on the sea-swept Galapagos Islands. The music goes hand in hand with the narrated text, taking listener's on a vivid sojourn through this exotic wilderness as it depicts the island’s sticking beauty and eccentric inhabitants such as giant tortoises and a range of cacophonic aviaries. Picker concludes the work with a quiet consummation in the movement Dawn, with a serene, emotional sound world.

For details on the Jacaranda performances, visit www.jacarandamusic.org

Learn more on the music of Tobias Picker at www.schott-music.com and www.tobiaspicker.com.

Tobias Picker
The Encantadas (1983)
for narrator and chamber orchestra
text (avail in En, Sp, Ger, Jap) by Herman Melville
2(2.pic).2(2.ca).2(2.bcl).2-2.2.0.0-timp.2perc-hp.pno-str
27'

full orchestra instrumentation:
2(2.pic).2(2.ca).2(2.bcl).2-4.2.3.1-timp.3perc-hp.pno-str

 

  • July 11, 2012
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Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox Opens at Opera Holland Park

Tobias Picker's operatic adaptation of Roald Dahl's beloved children's tale Fantastic Mr. Fox begins its 2012 run at London's Opera Holland Park on July 17, marking the third consecutive summer that the opera has been featured at the festival. Holland Park presents eight performances from July 17 through August 4 on the beautiful Yucca Lawn in Stephen Barlow's production designed specifically to utilize the natural scenery as backdrop and conducted by Matthew Waldren. Fantastic Mr. Fox is performed at Holland Park in its recent chamber orchestration for seven players.

An ideal introduction for children to opera using a source material that many of them know and love, Fantastic Mr. Fox can no less be savored by opera lovers of every ilk. Picker’s revered lyric gift and natural sense of dramatic arc animates the story of the wily Mr. Fox and his bid to outwit his farmer neighbors.

The Roald Dahl Foundation commissioned Tobias Picker to adapt the story in 1998, and the opera premiered at the Los Angeles Opera in December of that same year marking the first world premiere of an American opera in Los Angeles. Heidi Waleson remarked in The Wall Street Journal following the premiere:

Together [Picker and librettist Donald Sturrock] captured Dahl's spirit in a musical language that challenged, entertained and never pandered, skillfully balancing dark and light. Two entirely new creatures gave Mr. Picker the chance for some particularly inspired writing: Miss Hedgehog (soprano Sari Gruber), who laments her spinsterhood in a touchingly lyrical aria, and Agnes the Digger (Jill Grove), a butch earthmover with a dramatic mezzo range who is even scarier and more powerful than the nasty farmers with their guns. The opera was a captivating and witty entertainment. Oboe themes representing the natural world contrasted with the percussive characterization of the people and the machines. Mr. Picker also made colorful orchestral use of mallet instruments and a piano. The fox family and the quintet of bad guys had catchy ensembles, there were two haunting chorales for a children's chorus of trees, and the fox pair celebrated their victory at the end with, of course, a fox trot.

In its third season at Holland Park, the opera has become a permanent staple in the opera festival's summer programming. Learn more on the production by visiting www.operahollandpark.com.

Further information on the life and work of Tobias Picker is located at www.schott-music.com.

Tobias Picker
Fantastic Mr. Fox (1998, arr. 2010)
opera in three acts
libretto (En) by Donald Sturrock, based on the story by Roald Dahl
for 2 sopranos, 3 mezzo-sopranos, 2 tenors, 2 baritones, bass baritone, bass, four children and chorus

chamber orchestration featured at Opera Holland Park: 0.0.1(bcl).1-0.0.0.0-perc-pno-vn.va.vc
60'

original orchestration: 2(1.alfl 2.pic).2(2.ca).2(2.bcl).2(2.cbsn) -4.2.2.1-timp.2perc-hp.pno-str
90'

also available in reduced orchestration: 1(pic.alto).1(ca).1(bscl).1(cbsn)-2hn.tp.tba-1perc.timp-hp.pno-vn.va.vc.db
90'

 

  • March 26, 2012
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Tobias Picker Elected to American Academy of Arts and Letters

Many congratulations to Tobias Picker on his election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The composer joins an esteemed list of musicians in the Academy that includes John Adams, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Charles Wuorinen, Stephen Sondheim, Elliott Carter and Schott composers Bernard Rands, Robert Beaser, Fred Lerdahl, Joseph Schwantner and Christopher Rouse. The Academy is the foremost honor society of architects, composers, artists and writers in the United States. The honor of election is a lifetime appointment and is considered the highest formal recognition of artistic merit in the country.

The Academy's purpose is to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by identifying and encouraging individual artists through administering awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding stage readings and performances of new works, and purchasing works of art to be donated to museums. The Academy will hold its annual award ceremony in May where Tobias Picker will be inducted into the 250-person organization alongside 9 additional members from the Art, Architecture and Literature fields. Fellow 2012 inductees include composer Stephen Jaffe, artists Lynda Benglis, Robert Gober, Kara Walker, architects Elizabeth Diller and Kenneth Frampton and writers Jonathan Franzen, Michael Chabon and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Tobias Picker is currently completing his fifth opera, Dolores Claiborne, with a libretto by J.D. McClatchy commissioned by San Francisco Opera. Presented by arrangement with British theatrical producer Andrew Welch, Dolores Claiborne will see its world premiere at the San Francisco Opera on September 15, 2013, starring mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick in the title role, conducted by George Manahan and directed by James Robinson.

Described by BBC Music Magazine as "displaying a distinctively soulful style that is one of the glories of the current musical scene," Tobias Picker has had works commissioned and performed by the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Munich Philharmonic and the Helsinki Philharmonic. His first opera, Emmeline, saw its premiere at the Santa Fe Opera in 1996, and his fourth opera, An American Tragedy, was commissioned by and premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005. His adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox was commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Opera in 1998, and his Thérèse Raquin was commissioned by The Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, and Opera de Montreal in 1999. His piano concerto Keys to the City was commissioned by the City of New York in honor of the centenary of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1982. London's Rambert Dance Company completed a season-long tour throughout the UK of Picker's Awakenings in Spring of 2011, and New York City's Miller Theatre honored the composer with a portrait concert in October, 2011.

Read the American Academy of Arts and Letters press release on the newly elected members atwww.artsandletters.org.

For more on the life and music of Tobias Picker, go to www.tobiaspicker.com and www.schott-music.com.

 

  • January 31, 2012
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San Francisco Opera Commissions Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne

The venerable San Francisco Opera has announced the commission of Tobias Picker’s next opera, Dolores Claiborne, with a libretto by J.D. McClatchy. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by award-winning author Stephen King and presented by arrangement with British theatrical producer Andrew Welch, Dolores Claiborne will debut at the San Francisco Opera on September 15, 2013, starring mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick in the title role. In his company debut, George Manahan conducts the world premiere run and James Robinson, whose previous engagements at the War Memorial Opera House include the 2009 season productions of Il Trittico and Salome, will direct. The new production also features the work of scenic designer Allen Moyer, costume designer James Schutte, lighting designer Chris Ackerlind and projection designer Greg Emetaz. San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley comments:

The idea of Dolores Claiborne as an operatic work has been in my mind for quite a while. The sticking point was obtaining the rights from author Stephen King, and once that was accomplished the opera was put on the fast track for development.  I’ve always admired the music of Tobias Picker—his musical language that works so well with today’s audiences by offering a spectrum of expressive qualities, his beautiful lyricism, his dramatic abilities and his brilliant orchestrations. And I’ve always thought of the character of Dolores Claiborne and celebrated mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick as a perfect match.

Tobias Picker adds:

Dolores Claiborne is a character destined for the operatic stage—passionate, desperate, trapped. She will do anything to save the daughter who despises her. Pushed to the extreme edge of life, she does what she has to, fearless and forsaken.  I have wanted to write this opera for years. Yes, Stephen King is a master of suspense, but he is also a remarkable reader of human desires and fears. The superb team that San Francisco Opera has assembled allows me to compose a powerful, heart-stopping piece of music theater for a cast of brilliant voices.

Visit www.sfopera.com for more information on San Francisco Opera and Dolores Claiborne.

For more on the life and music of Tobias Picker, go to www.tobiaspicker.com and www.schott-music.com.

 

  • October 5, 2011
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Tobias Picker Composer Portrait at Miller Theatre

Miller Theatre kicks off its 2011/12 Composer Portrait series with the spotlight on New York native Tobias Picker. The career-spanning program on October 6 features performances by pianist Sarah Rothenberg, violinist David Fulmer, the Brentano String Quartet, the Signal Ensemble and conductor Frédéric Chaslin among others, and includes Keys to the City, the composer’s piano concerto performed on this concert in its chamber version, the New York premiere of Piano Quintet, “Live Oaks,” Rhapsody for violin and piano, as well as select arias from his operas EmmelineFantastic Mr. FoxThérèse Raquin andAn American Tragedy. From Miller Theatre Director Melissa Smey:

I can’t think of a better way to start us off than with a composer from right here in New York, the brilliant Tobias Picker. With operatic arias, a piano concerto, and works for chamber ensemble, Tobias’s program epitomizes what Composer Portraits is all about: showcasing the incredible creativity and breadth of vision of today’s great composers.

Fresh off its world premiere in Houston by Sarah Rothenberg and the Brentano String Quartet, Piano Quintet, “Live Oaks” sees its New York premiere at Miller. Joel Luks writes of the premiere in Houston:

There is a strong American consciousness in Picker's work, evoking aural illustrations of the frontier experience. The composer describes the work as a musical drama with the piano taking center stage.

The quintet opens with clear representational imagery, with bird chirps emerging from call-and-response patterns in the strings, but then morphs into almost caricature-like abstract sketches with descending lines and rhythmically complex fragments, often containing a healthy dash of humor.

For more on the program, visit www.millertheatre.com.

Go to www.tobiaspicker.com and www.schott-music.com to learn more on the life and music of Tobias Picker.

Tobias Picker
Keys to the City (1987)
for chamber ensemble
ob.cl.bsn-str(2.1.1.1)
19’

Rhapsody (1978)
for violin and piano
12’

Piano Quintet (2011)
Live Oaks
for piano and string quartet
25’

Miss Hedgehog’s Aria (1998, arr. 2010)
for soprano and piano
from Fantastic Mr. Fox
5’

Ghost Aria (2000, arr. 2010)
for tenor and piano
from Thérèse Raquin
7’

Diving Aria (2005, arr. 2011)
for mezzo-soprano and piano
from An American Tragedy
ca. 5’

Letter Aria (2005, arr. 2010)
for soprano and piano
from An American Tragedy
5’

 

  • September 1, 2011
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Brentano String Quartet and Sarah Rothenberg Premiere Tobias Picker’s Piano Quintet in Houston

Da Camera Houston opens its season in grand fashion with the premiere of Tobias Picker’s Piano Quintet on September 23. Taking place at the Cullen Theater in Houston, the performance features the Brentano String Quartet with pianist and Da Camera artistic director Sarah Rothenberg rounding out the ensemble. Tobias Picker writes on his newest work:

We all grew up on the monumental piano quintets of the past – such thrilling music. But as I began to write a piano quintet myself, ‘the way in’ eluded me. I kept thinking, a piano and a string quartet need each other like a hole in the head. Why combine them anyway? I looked to the masters for inspiration and along the way became convinced that even they had grappled with this question. Perhaps it was no coincidence that Schumann, Brahms, Dvořák, Franck, Elgar, Shostakovich and Carter had each written only one. Finding my own answer was difficult and took a long time. When the answer finally came – it gave me great joy. My Piano Quintet reflects that joy as no other piece I’ve ever written has done.

Pianist Sarah Rothenberg adds:

Tobias has written us an impressively ambitious work which clearly takes into consideration the great 19th century tradition of piano quintets. It is passionate, virtuosic, dramatic and hauntingly moving. Given Tobias's personal history as a composer of opera and accomplished pianist himself, it is probably not surprising that the work has both a strong narrative shape as well as concerto-like, extremely idiomatic (although difficult!!) piano writing. But additionally there is something particularly personal about this work, romantic gestures heard through a jagged rhythmic disjunction; melodic shapes and harmonies that are both familiar and strange at the same time, as though transfigured and refracted through the prism of modern life.

I am thrilled to be giving both the world premiere and NY premiere of this work in the coming weeks- it is a real birthing process, and until that moment of performance with audience present, the piece does not yet fully exist. But already I feel this is a work that is taking on a life of its own, and the challenges of working on it have had their rewards for me.

Learn more on the program at www.dacamera.com.

Visit www.tobiaspicker.com and www.schott-music.com for more on the composer.

Tobias Picker
Piano Quintet (2011)
for piano and string quartet
25’

 

  • January 11, 2011
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Tobias Picker’s Awakenings and Fantastic Mr. Fox on UK Tours

Audiences around the UK will hear the music of Tobias Picker this winter and spring with the continuation of Rambert Dance Company’s tour of Awakenings and the English Touring Opera’s crusade ofFantastic Mr. FoxAwakenings just completed the initial run of its tour with over 30 performances by Rambert. The work attracted universal praise from critics:

[Choreographer Aletta] Collins’s Awakenings, with a heartfelt score by Tobias Picker and admirable design by Miriam Buether is a vivid response to [Dr. Oliver Sacks’] text. We see the sufferers, trapped in frozen poses of catatonia, or released into fierce convulsions. We see their need for freedom, emotional as well as physical, and the piece – dominated by a performance from Jonathan Goddard of searing truth – tugs at our responses.
-Clement Crisp, Financial Times

… challenging and absorbing, potent, poignant and even, at moments, funny. Picker's score, performed live by Rambert's 15-strong orchestra, follows a similar arc, counterposing jagged, stuttering chords with a discursive, melodic freedom which is very persuasive.
-Jenny Gilbert, The Independant

a powerful piece…
-Judith Mackrell, The Guardian

The 2011 tour includes stops in Truro, Edinburgh, Inverness, Northampton, Mold and Brighton.

On February 18 the English Touring Opera kicks off the UK tour of Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox at the Ashcroft Theatre in Croydon, UK. Debuting in a new chamber orchestration for 14 players, Picker’s opera, based on Roald Dahl’s beloved novel, experienced recent success with a production at Opera Holland Park in the summer of 2010, in a new version for an ensemble of seven players:

A spirited young cast led by Grant Doyle and Olivia Ray as Mr. and Mrs. Fox held its young audience captive. Four Botticellian wood sprites, who could also sing divinely, led the promenade performance from tree to tree. It was expertly done and deserves a life beyond west London. OHP has high hopes that, with festivals such as Latitude showing interest, it will.
-Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian

A treat for connoisseurs… Donald Sturrock’s blithe libretto and Mr. Picker’s bright, accessible music give the creature a kind of roguish charm. The opera owes its zestful appeal to Mr. Picker’s score.
-Geoffrey Smith, Country Life

 

Find out the exact dates and locations for all productions of Tobias Picker’s Awakenings and Fantastic Mr. Fox by visiting our online performance calendar at www.eamdllc.com.

Learn more on the music of Tobias Picker at www.schott-music.com and www.tobiaspicker.com.

English Touring Opera

Rambert Dance Company

 

Tobias Picker
Awakenings (2010)
for orchestra
1(pic.afl).1(ca).1(bcl).1-hn.tp-1perc(timp)-hp.pno-str
23’

Fantastic Mr. Fox (1998, arr. 2010)
opera in three acts
Libretto by Donald Sturrock, after the novel by Roald Dahl

chamber orchestra version (arr. Samuel Bill) performed at ETO:
1.(pic.afl)1(bcl)1.1(cbsn)-21.0.1-perc-pno.hp-vn.va.vc.cb
90’

Ensemble version (arr. Francesco Cilluffo) performed at Opera Holland Park:
0.0.1(bcl).1-0.0.0.0-perc-pno-vn.va.vc

 

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