past event

SOF Forum: The Concerto: Why Is It So Irresistible?

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Presented in collaboration with the Aspen Music Festival and School, Alan Fletcher chairs an impressive panel including Anders Hillborg, Stephen Hartke, Jonathan Leshnoff, Andrew Norman, Christopher Theofanidis, and Robert Spano to discuss a beloved musical form—the concerto. Most of these composers have works scheduled for performance this Festival Season. Why do concertos work? Why have they endured through the centuries? And why do they captivate so many audiences? Join us in this opportunity to demystify the genesis, musical approach, compositional voice, and challenges of constructing and performing these classic works.


Alan Fletcher, an accomplished music administrator and respected composer, earned his baccalaureate at Princeton University and his master’s degree and doctorate at Juilliard. He studied composition with Roger Sessions, Milton Babbitt, Edward T. Cone, and Paul Lansky and piano with Jacob Lateiner and Robert Helps. In 1985, Fletcher was appointed to the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, and served as Dean, Provost, and Senior Vice President. He was Professor of Music and Head of the School of Music at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, after which he assumed his current position as president and CEO of the AMFS. Fletcher has lectured nationally and internationally and served on many boards and panels. He has also contributed articles to the Huffington Post, The Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun, Chronicle of Higher Education, and many others. Fletcher has won numerous composing awards and received commissions from many noted ensembles and soloists.


Stephen Hartke, winner of the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition, is widely recognized as one of the leading composers of his generation. Hartke grew up in Manhattan, where he began his musical career as a professional boy chorister. He then studied at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California at Santa Barbara. From 1987 to 2015, he taught at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, and is now distinguished professor emeritus. He was recently appointed professor and chair of composition at the Oberlin Conservatory. Hartke has won the Rome Prize, Berlin Prize, two Koussevitzky Music Foundation Commission Grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Charles Ives Living Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Hartke’s music is available on CDs from Albany, Bridge, Cedille, Chandos, CRI, Delos, ECM New Series, EMI Classics, Naxos American Classics, New World Records, and Soundbrush Records.

Anders Hillborg has been a full-time freelance composer since 1982. His sphere of activity is extensive, covering orchestral, choral and chamber music as well as music for films and pop music. Hillborg’s works have been performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Swedish Radio Orchestra, and many more. He has also received commissions from leading performance organizations, such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Tonhalle Zürich, New York Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, and Swedish Radio Orchestra. From 1976 to 1982 Hillborg studied counterpoint, composition and electronic music at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, where his teachers included Gunnar Bucht, Lars-Erik Rosell, Arne Mellnäs and Pär Lindgren. He was the 2008 composer-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival, and won the 2012 Swedish Gramophone award for Best Classical CD of the Year.

Praised by the Washington Post as one of the “gifted young composers” of this generation, Jonathan Leshnoff is described by The New York Times as “a leader of contemporary American lyricism.” The Baltimore-based composer’s works have been performed by more than 50 orchestras worldwide, and he has received commissions from Carnegie Hall and ensembles including the Atlanta, Baltimore, and Dallas Symphonies, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and many more. Leshnoff’s compositions have been performed by classical music’s most celebrated stars, including Gil and Orli Shaham, Roberto Díaz, and Manuel Barrueco, and conducted by esteemed music directors Marin Alsop, Giancarlo Guerrero, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Robert Spano, and Michael Stern. Leshnoff has released three albums to date, all on the Naxos American Classics label. The recording of his Violin Concerto No. 1 was selected among Naxos’ Top 40 CDs of 2009. His catalog is vast, including several symphonies, oratorios, concerti, solos, and chamber works. Leshnoff is a Professor of Music at Towson University.

Andrew Norman is a Los Angeles-based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music. Andrew’s work draws on an eclectic mix of sounds and notational practices from both the avant-garde and classical traditions. His symphonic works have been performed by leading ensembles worldwide, including the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France, and many others. Andrew was recently named Musical America’s 2017 Composer of the Year. He is the recipient of the 2004 Jacob Druckman Prize, the 2005 ASCAP Nissim and Leo Kaplan Prizes, the 2006 Rome Prize, the 2009 Berlin Prize and a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship. Andrew’s work The Companion Guide to Rome was named a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music. He is a committed educator, joining the faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music in 2013, and serving as the new director of the L.A. Philharmonic’s Composer Fellowship Program for high school composers.

Robert Spano is recognized as one of the brightest and most imaginative conductors of his generation. As music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, he is responsible for nurturing and expanding the careers of numerous classically trained composers, conductors, and performers. In his distinguished career as music director of the Aspen Music Festival and School, he oversees the programming of more than 300 events and educational programs, including the Aspen Conducting Academy. He has led ASO performances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, and the Ravinia, Ojai, and Savannah music festivals, and he holds a conductor residency with the Colburn School Orchestra in Los Angeles. As a pianist, he joined Wu Han and Alessio Bax for a program of piano masterworks as part of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s residency at the University of Georgia. Working with Telarc, Deutsche Grammophon, and ASO Media, Robert Spano has won six Grammy Awards with the ASO. He is on faculty at Oberlin Conservatory and has received honorary doctorates from Bowling Green State University, Curtis Institute of Music, Emory University, and Oberlin. Maestro Spano is one of two classical musicians inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Christopher Theofanidis has had his music performed by the London Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta, National, Baltimore, St. Louis, and Detroit Symphonies, among many others. He was Composer of the Year for the Pittsburgh Symphony during their 2006–07 season, for which he wrote a violin concerto for Sarah Chang. Mr. Theofanidis holds degrees from Yale, Eastman, and the University of Houston, and has been the recipient of the International Masterprize, Rome Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Fulbright fellowship to France, and two fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2007 he was nominated for a Grammy for Best Composition for his work The Here and Now. His orchestral work, Rainbow Body, has been one of the most performed new works of the new millennium. Mr. Theofanidis has written widely for the stage, including works for the San Francisco and Houston Grand Opera companies and the American Ballet Theatre. He is a former faculty member of Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Conservatory and the Juilliard School. Mr. Theofanidis is currently a professor at Yale University.

Event information
Thu Jul 20, 2017
1:00pm - 4:00pm MDT
Paepcke Auditorium, Aspen Meadows campus
Aspen, CO