The first composer to win the Berlin Prize, UW-Madison Prof, Laura Schwendinger’s music has been championed by artists Dawn Upshaw (Tour 1997-2013; TDK/Naxos DVD), Matt Haimovitz, Miranda Cuckson, Julian Wachner with Trinity Wall Street NOVUS, Arditti & JACK Quartets, ICE, New Juilliard Ensemble, Jenny Koh, Janine Jansen, Eighth Blackbird, Mathieu Dufour, American Composers Orchestra, Franz Liszt Orchestra; Internationally at venues including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Ctr, Times Ctr, Symph Space, BargeMusic, Wigmore Hall, Berlin Phil, Théâtre Châtelet, and National Arts Center CA; And at the Tanglewood, Bennington, Aspen and Ojai Festivals. Honors include a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, a rare two time Koussevitzky foundation at the Library of Congress commission, a Fromm Foundation Commission, a Radcliffe Institute at Harvard fellowship, a Copland House prize, Harvard Musical Association commission for the Arditti Quartet, Chamber Music America commission, League of American Orchestras/NewMusic Alive orchestral residency; And fellowships from the McDowell (10), Yaddo (8) colonies,  as well as Rockefeller’s Bellagio, Bogliasco Foundations, American Acad. Arts & Letters (Leiberson“mid-career composers of exceptional gifts” and Ives Scholarship), First Prize ALEA III Competition (1995), and an Opera America Discovery Grant for Artemisia in with  Center for Contemporary Opera in NY (10/18), at the Times Arrow festival (1/7/17); And with fully produced World premieres lead by Left Coast Chamber Ensemble (June 2019),  and with Trinity Wall Street NOVUS (March 2019),  and with Chris Alden, Lidiya Yankovskaya, and Mathilda Hoffman, conducting & directing, and in a joint production in Milan Italy (2020)."Left Coast Chamber Ensemble Proves That Great Opera Needn’t Be Grand" World premiere of Chamber Version by Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, June 3, 2019

-"Laura Schwendinger's Artemisia, on the other hand, is sumptuous on every level...Schwendinger’s score is striking. Often, it’s the little things, like the intoning of ‘Susanna’: the stressed syllable rising before the terminal fall, a nagging presence grudgingly accepted. Or the resolutions of the diminished fourths in Tommaso’s aria, a breathtaking piece of worry and longing...Most memorably, the music underscores Artemisia’s deteriorating vision. Tender, high-pitched glimmers shift so as to be out of reach. The shadows are flat-sounding chords: impressionistic, but with a distinctly contemporary sensibility.” B y Rebecca Wishnia

 

In OperaWire --"Schwendinger’s score and Ginger Strand’s story not only casts its spell but awakens us again to the continuing conflict of men, women and art that has pervaded western history...The music challenges. The texture is rich. The variety of instrumentation stimulates and complements the complex issues alive in the script. Flute/piccolo, accurate and incisive, piano and percussion extending and developing motifs, harp and strings, provides a musical brocade that is excellent sister to the story, excellent transmitter of the story. Both reveal the complexity and do not hold back from riveting us to it.”

A second opera is in the planning stages now. Commissions include those from Miller Theater, an UnSafe commission for the American Composers Orchestra, New Juilliard Ensemble, Sounding Beckett (Classic Stage Co. Off-Broadway), Kennedy Center, StonyBrook Premiere series , National Flute Assoc. She has been on faculty at the Bennington Conference, New Music on Point, Irish Comp Summer School, St. Mary’s Composition Intensive, featured Composer at the Tallis Festival Switzerland (7/17) and Master Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts ( 7/2018). Her work on Cedille’s “Notable Women” ("hidden gem”, UK Guardian), review (Fanfare) “evokes a sense of serene mystery and infinite beauty.” CDs featuring her music (on Centaur/ Albany), received glowing reviews. A New York Times playlist review read “The chamber works grouped together on this captivating disc show off her acute ear for unusual textures..she sketches musical short stories of somnambulant fragility and purpose.” Review in Chic Tribune (of Eighth Blackbird) read “an acute sonic imagination and sure command of craft.”, in the  New York Times “The piece is darkly attractive, artful..moving…”, and the Boston Globe, “This was shrewd composing, the genuine article. Onto the ''season's best'' list it goes.” About her Creature Quartet just released by Albany Records on QUARTETS, featuring the JACK Quartet, nominated by Albany for a 2018 Grammy was reviewed in Fanfare by Colin Clarke as “The sheer intensity of both music and performance thereof is spellbinding, as if the passion of the composer for her subject shines through like a light.”  Her full catalog is published by Keiser/ Southern.

 

Laura at Yaddo with Jennifer Karady, Jackie Lydon

Bio

The first composer to win the American Academy in Berlin Prize, Laura Elise Schwendinger, Professor of Composition at The University of Wisconsin Madison, was born in Mexico City. Her music has been performed by leading artists or our day including Dawn Upshaw (Tour 1997-2013; Voices of Our Time, TDK/Naxos DVD), the Arditti and JACK quartets, Jennifer Koh, Janine Jansen, Matt Haimovitz, Miranda Cuckson, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Eighth Blackbird, New Juilliard Ensemble, Collage, StonyBrook Premiere, Boston Musica Viva, Aspen Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Lincoln Trio, Trinity Wall Street Novus (Carnegie) and the American Composers Orchestra (an UnSafe series Commission; Carnegie Hall 2012) and Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra of Hungary; At venues including, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Alice Tully Hall-Lincoln Center, Times Center, Symphony Space, Poisson Rouge, BargeMusic, Corcoran Gallery, Wigmore Hall, Berlin Philharmonic, National Arts Centre CA,  Theatre Chatelet, Tanglewood, Aspen, Bennington and Ojai Music Festivals. She was a League of Composers/ New Music USA Resident composer with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra in 2016. She has been on faculty at summer Festivals such as New music on the Point, Bennington Chamber Music Conference, Irish Composition Summer School and the Tallis Music Festival in Switzerland.

Her honors include those from the Guggenheim, Koussevitzky and Fromm Foundations, Radcliffe Institute-Harvard University, Copland House, Harvard Musical Association, Chamber Music America, League of American Orchestra/ New Music Alive, MacDowell (9), Yaddo colonies (7), and Rockefeller’s Bellagio and Bogliasco fellowships, American Academy of Arts and Letters awards (Goddard Leiberson Fellowship for “mid-career composer of exceptional gifts” and Ives scholarship) and first-prize of the 1995 ALEA III Competition. Notable premieres include those from Miller Theater  (a Pocket Concerto for Jenny Koh and ICE), an American Composers Orchestra Commission (SHADINGS), New Juilliard Ensemble, Sounding Beckett (Off Broadway at the Classic Stage Co.) and her High Wire Act, which has been performed by dozens of groups across the country including Chameleon Arts. Recent performances and premieres include her Artist’s Muse, Schwendinger’s second Koussevitzky commission by the Chameleon Arts Ensemble in Boston (5/17), Creature Quartet by JACK quartet, and Arc of Fire commissioned by Chamber Music America, performed at Bryant Park, both nominated for Pulitzers (WFMT radio in Chicago, and Union Theater Concerts), and her opera Artemisia, just premiered by Julian Wachner, and Marnie Breckenridge, with Trinity Wall Street, as part of the Times Arrow Festival (1/7/17) and was a recipient of a National Opera Center Discovery Grant. William Zagorski (Fanfare) wrote of her C’e La Luna Questa Sera? “it evokes a sense of serene mystery and infinite beauty.” John Van Rhein wrote of Eighth Blackbird’s performance of High Wire Act (Chicago Tribune) “it evinced an acute sonic imagination and sure command of craft.” Of her Song for Andrew Anthony Tommasini wrote (NYT) “The piece is darkly attractive, artful and moving…” and of her Fable, Richard Buell (Boston Globe) wrote in his review “This was shrewd composing, the genuine article. Onto the ''season's best'' list it goes.” The NY Times reviewer Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim wrote in her playlist review “The chamber works grouped together on this captivating disc show off Laura Elise Schwendinger’s acute ear for unusual textures. In these works… she sketches musical short stories of somnambulant fragility and purpose.”

Longer Biography

Laura Schwendinger, the first composer to win the American Academy in Berlin Prize, is a Professor of Composition at UW-Madison. Her music is performed by leading artists of our day, including Dawn Upshaw (on tour 1997-2013; TDK/Naxos DVD), Patricia Green, Arditti & JACK Quartets, Jennifer Koh, Janine Jansen, Miranda Cuckson, Matt Haimovitz, ICE, Eighth Blackbird, New Juilliard Ensemble, Collage, StonyBrook Premiere, Boston Musica Viva, Aspen Ensemble, Dinosaur Annex, Trinity Choir and NOVUS, American Composers Orchestra and Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, and at Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln-Center, Times Center, Symphony Space, BargeMusic, Corcoran Gallery, Institute of Advanced Study-Princeton and Tanglewood, Aspen and Ojai Music Festivals; and at the National Arts Centre Canada, Théâtre Châtelet, Wigmore Hall, and Berlin Philharmonic, and in 2016 held an American League of Orchestras Composer residency with the Richmond Symphony. Her honors include a Guggenheim, Koussevitzky (2), Fromm, Radcliffe Institute, Copland House, Harvard Musical Association, Chamber Music America, League of American Orchestras, New Music USA, two American Academy of Arts and Letters awards (a Goddard Leiberson Fellowship for “mid-career composer of exceptional gifts” and Ives scholarship), First-prize ALEA III, MacDowell (9), Yaddo (7), Tyrone Guthrie Center (5), Bogliasco and Rockefeller Bellagio Center Fellowships. Premieres include a Miller Theater commission, ACO UnSafe Commission, Sounding Beckett (Off-Broadway, Classic Stage Co.)

 

Her music has been described as...“Evok(ing) a sense of serene mystery and infinite beauty”, “evincing an acute sonic imagination and sure command of craft.”, “darkly attractive, artful and moving…” "talent to burn…ballsy, confident music-making in both writing and execution…proves that serious contemporary music does not have to dumb down to be immediately accessible and emotional”,“...her music has at its core her own impressive point of view... … displays an acute ear for engaging melodic contours and evocative settings”, “not a single moment in her works sounds contrived, formulaic, or artificial…intensely and strongly "alive", “This was shrewd composing, the genuine article. Onto the ''season's best'' list it goes.” The NY Times Playlist review of her CD High Wire Acts said..“The works grouped together on this captivating disc… sketch(es) musical short stories of somnambulant fragility and purpose.” 

 

Laura Elise Schwendinger, a 2016 OPERA AMERICA Discovery Grant recipient for her opera Artemisia, is based on the life of Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 –1656), an important follower of Caravaggio and the first women member of the Accademia del Arte, Florence. When sixteen, Artemisia was raped by Agostino Tassi, while studying with the elder painter. Tassi was sentenced to prison, but never served. The case overshadowed Artemisia’s achievements for years, however today she is regarded as one of the greatest painters of her time. The opera will be is a co-commission by Trinity Wall Street Novus in NY and in San Francisco by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. Writer and librettist Ginger Strand, is the author of four books including her new book The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

@ 2016 Laura Elise Schwendinger