DOCUMENTARY FILM "THE SUDDEN PIANIST" NAMED AN OFFICIAL SELECTION OF THE AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL APRIL 4-8, 2013 PALM SPRINGS, CA
Richard Anderson's documentary portrait of Michael Hersch has been named an official selection of the prestigious American Documentary Film Festival, and will have its world premiere there on April 7, 2013. While much has been written about Hersch as a composer, his remarkable abilities at the piano have been witnessed by few, as he shuns most public performances. Anderson's film, The Sudden Pianist, shines a light on this aspect of Hersch's music making. The film is an intimate portrait, with never before seen or heard footage of Hersch performing his own work at the piano - from his debut at Carnegie Recital Hall to the present day. There are also rare interviews throughout with the composer, shedding light on his life and music. The film is a moving journey into the mind of one of America's most unique artists. Click here for tickets thesuddenpianist.com
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING OF CAELUM DEDECORATUM FOR UNACCOMPANIED DOUBLE BASS IN LATE 2012
The remarkable bassist Jeffrey Weisner's debut recording of solo works for double bass on the Innova Records label will feature Mr. Hersch's major unaccompanied work from 2006, Caelum Dedecoratum, alongside new works of David Smooke and Armando Bayalo.
NEW OPERA TO BE PREMIERED
Michael Hersch's newest work, a monodrama in two acts entitled On the Threshold of Winter, is scored for soprano, an ensemble of eight (flute, oboe, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, piano, percussion, violin, cello), and conductor. The piece was commissioned by the newly established nunc - Miranda Cuckson, Director, and is tentatively scheduled for a 2013/14 premiere. The opera follows the trajectory of Marin Sorescu's wrenching final work The Bridge, in English translation (from the original Romanian). In the words of co-translator Adam J. Sorkin, "These poems ... expressions of doubt, reluctant faith, protest ... are a testament not just to human mortality and pain, but to resistance and triumph, a creative transformation of the struggle to accept fate and in the same breath attempt to defy its imminent finality ... I suspect though, that there is no way to be immune to the harrowing content, even if one tries. The volume progresses chronologically from the beginning of November 1996 onward. A mere five weeks. Most of the poems are dated, and the inexorable momentum of poem after poem toward Sorescu's death seems to make the book something like a medieval tableau, a dance of death arranged as a procession of still living poems."
NEW WORK FOR ENSEMBLE KLANG
One of the premiere contemporary music ensembles in the Netherlands, Ensemble Klang has commissioned Michael Hersch to write a new work for the 2013/14 concert season.
2012-2013 Concert Season
August 13, 2012
Bargemusic Concert Series
New York, NY Five Fragments for unaccompanied violin
Miranda Cuckson, violin
August 23, 2012
Suite From The Vanishing Pavilions
Soheil Nasseri, piano
September 4, 2012 at 8PM
Merkin Concert Hall
New York, NY
Suite From The Vanishing Pavilions
Soheil Nasseri, piano MORE INFORMATION
SEPTEMBER 7, 2012 AT 7PM
121 Ludlow Street
New York, NY
Caelum Dedecoratum for Unaccompanied Double Bass
Jeffrey Weisner, bass
Sylvia Adalman Recital Series
ALL HERSCH RECITAL
The Peabody Institute - Friedberg Concert Hall
Blair String Quartet / Miranda Cuckson / Gary Louie / Michael Hersch MORE INFORMATION
September 25, 2012
Release Date of bassist Jeffrey Weisner's solo album Nemonology
world premiere recording of Caelum Dedecoratum for unaccompanied double bass MORE INFORMATION
November 19, 2012
L’Espirit du Piano Festival
Suite From The Vanishing Pavilions
Soheil Nasseri, piano MORE INFORMATION
February 26, 2013 at 8PM
Thomas Hampson/Wolfram Rieger
San Francisco Performances Music Series
Herbst Theater - San Francisco, CA Domicilium: a song cycle on texts of Thomas Hardy - WORLD PREMIERE
Thomas Hampson, baritone/Wolfram Rieger, piano
below bright multitudes there was only earth
a short film by Alex Levy/music by Michael Hersch
IMAGES FROM A CLOSED WARD for string quartet (World, New York Premieres)
"Nearly every new work by Philadelphian Michael Hersch is like a journey to the center of the Earth, each achieved by a different route and in varying vehicles. Thursday at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, the composer's medium was string quartet, and the journey itself often left you in a figurative blindfold taken off momentarily to glimpse another previously unimaginable terrain ... Much of the piece uses the string quartet medium to create sonorities that might be paradoxically described as vividly pale, against which there are dabs of more bold colors or short themes, vaguely pointing in several possible directions that are left unpursued. Rarely is there a completed thought: All movements end inconclusively, often with several seconds of designated silence that freezes the musical idea in suspended animation. Often, Hersch uses a series of chords, seemingly similar for being voiced with extremes of treble and bass, but with subtle differences creating forward motion and even narrative. Other times, two alternating chords suggest a musical trudge into the unknown, or maybe in circles. When Hersch adds a few extra chords to that, the piece seems to walk on all fours. Emphatic, fortissimo dissonance suggests unsolvable crisis. One movement tosses and turns, like an ill person trying to find a position without pain. Bleak? Oh yes. This isn't at all what W.B. Yeats had in mind when coining the term "terrible beauty," but it fits."
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns (April 10, 2012)
"An audience in Weill Recital Hall had a reminder of the extraordinary talent of Michael Hersch. He is an American composer born in 1971. He has written a new string quartet on commission from the music school at Vanderbilt University. Called Images from a Closed Ward, the piece takes some inspiration from art by the late Michael Mazur. His etchings and lithographs looked into hellish existence. Hersch’s string quartet is in 13 (brief) movements. As usual with him, the materials are spare, and not a note is wasted. Every note or phrase has its purpose. The first movement seems to me a bleak trudge. The second one is sharp and ferocious. The third is almost a song. A later movement is wrenching in its despair. In the end, it’s as though a clock runs out, leaving nothing but nothing—a void ... One of his markings is “haunted; stricken.” If anyone knows the trick of expressing agony in music, he does. And his command of craft, overall, is something rare. Often at his premieres, we say, “We have heard something important. We have heard music that will last.” I felt just this way about Images from a Closed Ward."
-- City Arts, Jay Nordlinger (April 17, 2012)
“... an expansive 45-minute work of searing energy and emotion ... Few composers have been as successful at tapping into our most primal emotions ... With 'Images from a Closed Ward,' Hersch has arguably come as close as any human to capturing, in sound, the feeling of unreachable isolation. It is the sound of a string quartet playing with rage and inconsolable sadness.”
-- ArtNowNashville, John Pitcher (February 2012)
NIGHT PIECES for trumpet and orchestra (World Premiere)
"a highly effective new concerto for trumpet by Michael Hersch, full of visual allure, touring all sorts of dark places rarely visited by the instrument. Hersch, a professor at Baltimore's Peabody Institute, didn't have visual scenery in mind when he composed "Night Pieces" in 2009. Rather, he thought of a late, dear friend and a melancholy poem by Yeats. Yet what he produced is still powerfully evocative, a gripping journey through somber emotional states. Bursting into the foreground with violent screams, the orchestra repeatedly interrupted haunting, lyrical exchanges between the soloist and colorful partners such as harp, bass clarinet and English horn."
-- The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Zachary Lewis (March 17, 2012)
The Baltimore Sun Blog
Recording Review: the wreckage of flowers
by Logan K. Young
Published: November 1, 2011
Born in Washington, based in Baltimore, composer Michael Hersch is indeed a local marvel. In fact, given his myriad early successes, increasingly high-profile commissions and prodigious keyboard skills, I’d argue he’s the Beltway’s own Thomas Adès. No, that’s not hyperbole; Hersch really is that unique a voice, that solid a musician... READ MORE
Interview With Violinist Miranda Cuckson
Violinist Miranda Cuckson speaks about her interest in new music, her artistic collaboration with composer Michael Hersch, and the experience of preparing and performing contemporary works for concert and the recording studio. You can find out more about Miranda here, and information on The Wreckage of Flowers, recently released on CD by Musical Concepts, here.
ASCAP Audio Portrait February 17, 2011 - The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers highly acclaimed Audio Portraits series gives listeners unique insight into the creative process, as told by the writers themselves.
Peter Sheppard-Skaerved plays Michael Hersch
Michael Hersch: Five Fragments for unaccompanied violin
Peter Sheppard-Skaerved, violin
Galleria Marco - Mexico City Click here to listen
SYMPHONY NO. 3 (WORLD PREMIERE)
CABRILLO FESTIVAL OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC
MARIN ALSOP, MUSIC DIRECTOR
"Hersch seems to have carved his Symphony No 3 with granitic force. He has cast it in two large movements, surrounding five brief interludes; the dense harmonies, forbidding instrumental detail and sensation of inexorability seem not to have fazed the 83-member festival orchestra. The strings brood, the brass rages and, once in a while, you encounter a consonance with the sweetness of honey. Hersch provides a few moments of relief. Before he plunges into the tumultuous finale, he offers a short episode of broken phrases, and the silences between them leave you breathless."
-- The Financial Times of London, Allan Ulrich
"Hersch's Symphony No. 3, presented after intermission, evoked a considerably darker atmosphere. ... the score introduces a chilly, often harrowing palette, with brooding strings, glowering brass and anguished cries from the woodwinds deployed in formidable blocks of sound. The effect is both mechanized and deeply human ... Hersch impresses with sheer sonic weight and intensity. Alsop, a longtime advocate of the composer — this is his fourth visit to Cabrillo — lavished considerable care on the score's world premiere."
-- The San Jose Mercury News, Georgia Rowe
"In its world premiere, Michael Hersch's Symphony No. 3 delved deeply into dark psychic territory with painfully raw dissonances and near-human instrumental cries. Fleeting moments of calm beauty surfaced momentarily amid the storms. Two of the work's seven movements glittered with flitting woodwind ripples, and the finale, with a weighty fugue-like expansion, provided a welcome level of repose."
-- The Santa Cruz Sentinel, Phyllis Rosenblum
"This was not a sweet sadness. Nearly unbearable, it spoke to the kind of injury from which one does not heal. A deep hurt which we hold tight to ourselves, a hurt that names us. A sudden bang on untuned drum ... The orchestra gathered to a slow thickness, a tension of dread, with shimmer and slick of violins. Trumpets cascaded sharply down, silvered threads among low strings. ... a march across life’s rhythms."
-- The Piedmont Post, Adam Broner
MICHAEL HERSCH’S Sonata No. 1 for unaccompanied cello is one of his earliest published works, written when he was 23, in 1994. The riveting piece, given a gripping performance by Daniel Gaisford, is included on the first of three discs featuring Mr. Hersch’s solo and chamber music for string instruments, being released by Vanguard Classics... READ MORE
Sounds Heard: Michael Hersch—Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 for Unaccompanied Cello
By Molly Sheridan
Published: October 12, 2010
Michael Hersch's disc of two sonatas for unaccompanied cello particularly attracted me both for how strongly it makes this kind of connection with the listener and because it showcases the kind of work that doesn't miss the emotionally engaging forest for the technically sophisticated trees.