Ray’s Birthday Suit: a premiere by David Del Tredici
Pianist Marc Peloquin will be joined by the Manhattan String Quartet for the world premiere performance of Ray’s Birthday Suit arranged for piano quintet. Mr. Peloquin will also perform David Del Tredici’s Late in the Game, a 2012 work for solo piano. The composer will be present.
Listen to Mr. Peloquin’s 2023 recording Many Hands: The Piano Music of David Del Tredici, one of 5 Classical Music Albums You Can Listen to Right Now (New York Times).
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Marc Peloquin, piano
Manhattan String Quartet
Curtis Macomber, violin
Anna Lim, violin
Marka Gustavsson, viola
Chris Finckel, cello
About the composer:
With the appearance in 1976 of Final Alice, David Del Tredici’s hour-long setting of Lewis Carroll for high soprano and large orchestra, a new movement in music, Neo-Romanticism, was born. Not only did Del Tredici forge for himself a fresh compositional path, but at the same time gave hope to a generation of young composers seeking a new way of composing. Read here about a recent recording of two of his Alice-themed works in a New York Times feature from earlier this year.
“Del Tredici,” said Aaron Copland, “is that rare find among composers—a creator with a truly original gift. I venture to say that his music is certain to make a lasting impression on the American musical scene. I know of no other composer of his generation who composes music of greater freshness and daring, or with more personality.”
Final Alice is but one of a number of Alice in Wonderland settings written over a span of more than 25 years (1968–1995). Final Alice was followed by In Memory of a Summer Day, which was awarded the 1980 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Del Tredici’s early works, in a more dissonant idiom, also focused obsessively on a single author, James Joyce: Six Songs on Texts of James Joyce, I Hear an Army, Night Conjure-Verse and the tour de force for soprano and 16 instruments, Syzygy.
In Del Tredici’s Post-Alice world, he has taken a startlingly different tack—to create a body of music that celebrates his own gay sexuality. Among these is Gay Life (poetry of Ginsberg, Monette and Gunn; commissioned by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony), Love Addiction (a baritone/piano song cycle to poetry of John Kelly commissioned in honor of the composer’s 70th birthday), and Wondrous the Merge (a melodrama for baritone and string quartet to the poetry of James Broughton). The recent Bullycide for piano and string sextet is a composition dealing with gay teen suicide as a result of bullying.
His recent works include two string quartets (commissioned by the Da Ponte and Orion string quartets), Magyar Madness, and Grand Trio. And for solo piano, reflecting Del Tredici’s own musical beginnings as a piano prodigy, Mandango, Gotham Glory, Three Gymnopedies, and S/M Ballade. Boosey & Hawkes has published two volumes of his works for solo piano.
While Composer-In-Residence with the New York Philharmonic in the 1990s, Leonard Bernstein recorded his orchestral piece Tattoo, and Zubin Mehta recorded both Haddocks’ Eyes and Steps, a work written during his tenure at the Philharmonic. Paul Revere’s Ride for soprano, chorus, and orchestra was nominated for the 49th annual Grammy Awards as the Best New Classical Composition and issued on a Teldec CD. Rip Van Winkle is an adaptation of the iconic Longfellow story for narrator and orchestra and was premiered by Broadway superstar Brian Stokes Mitchell.
David Del Tredici’s works have been recorded on more than a dozen labels. These include Volume 1 of the Complete Piano Works performed by Marc Peloquin (Naxos), Facts of Life Del Tredici’s monster guitar work for David Leisner (Azica), A Field Manual and Magyar Madness (E-1 and Naxos), and an all-Del Tredici CD on Deutsche Grammophon performed by Oliver Knussen and the Netherlands’ ASKO Ensemble. Forthcoming recordings will include: Bullycide, Grand Trio, String Quartet No. 1, Felix Variations (played by his nephew, virtuoso trombonist Felix Del Tredici) and Dynamic Duo for Felix and Marc Peskanov (Albany), Complete Piano Works vol. 2), and the first recording of the complete Child Alice with Courtenay Budd soprano, Gil Rose, Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP).
Del Tredici has been on the faculties of Harvard and Boston Universities, and for more than 25 years, Distinguished Professor of Music at The City College of New York. He lives in Manhattan’s West Village.