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Claire Chase's Presser Foundation Grant Culminates
in an Evening of Five World Premiers

by Michael Chipman AD '00

ONE EVENING. FIVE WORLD PREMIERES. All new music for a new millennium. Two years ago, flutist Claire Chase of Leucadia, California, had the ambitious idea to commission, perform and record new music for flute - music as fresh from the minds of its composers as it was distinct and profound. Her idea was well received by the Presser Foundation, whose 1999 Presser Music Award provided a $5,000 grant with which Chase could commission, perform and record new chamber music for flute.

On April 21, Chase and colleagues, under the direction of associate professor of conducting Timothy Weiss, performed those five newly-commissioned works by John Fonville and Harvey Sollberger (both professors at the University of California, San Diego); Matthew Quayle '99; new music pioneer and former Conservatory prof Pauline Oliveros; and Huang Ruo '00. It should be noted that Warner Concert Hall was packed full to bursting for the concert!

"In one sense this concert was the culmination of two years of work; it was an end of sorts," Chase says. "In another more important sense, it really marks the beginning of a lifetime of work for me and many of the other young people in the ensemble who are dedicated to the future of chamber music in the next century."

Despite the enormous amount of work, Chase describes the project as immensely rewarding. "This has been one of the most gratifying and warmly supported collaborative experiences of my life," she says. Chase credits the composers for their participation, and profs Tim Weiss, Brian Alegant, Michel Debost, Kathleen Chastain along with organizer Hudie Broughton for ensuring the success of the performance. She also praises the performers, "Some terrific alumni returned for the event, and current students - the rest of the ensemble - worked throughout the semester. I'm very, very grateful to them all. They donated an enormous amount of time, energy and, needless to say, their gifted musical spirits to this project."

Those musicians included soprano Tony Arnold '92; Campbell MacDonald '99 on clarinet; Dave Bowlin '00 on violin; violist Wendy Richman, a former Obie, currently at the Cleveland Institute of Music; Kivie Cahn-Lipman '00 on cello; Nikki Bartnikki on string bass (currently studying at Hart College Conservatory); Catherine Barrett '00 on harp; Phyllis Chen '99 on piano (currently at Northwestern University); and percussionist Dave Schotzko '00.

"I have a passion for the new," Chase says. "Someday I would love to set a new standard, to program a Mozart flute quartet right next to a brand new flute quartet written by one of my colleagues, someone my age who has written something utterly new that pushes the boundaries. I'd love to see my new music buddies sitting next to the subscribers at a prestigious chamber music series in which these two works would be performed. I'd love for this to be normal, culturally expected, and desirable."


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