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RECENT BIO

"The first composer to win the American Academy in Berlin Prize, Laura Schwendinger is a Professor of Composition at UW Madison. Her opera Artemisia just won the 2023 American Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives award ($50,000), the largest award of its kind for opera in the US.

Her music has been performed by world-class ensembles and artists including Dawn Upshaw, the Arditti & JACK Quartets, Jennifer Koh, Janine Jansen, Matt Haimovitz, Ariana Kim,  the Lincoln Trio, International Contemporary Ensemble, Eighth-Blackbird, New Juilliard, Boston Musica Viva, Collage New Music, Musiqa, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Aspen New Music Ensemble, Indiana University New Music Ensemble, the American Composers Orchestra, and the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, among many others, at venues including Kennedy and Lincoln Centers, Berlin Philharmonic Kammermusiksaal, Wigmore & Carnegie Halls, Miller & Théâtre du Châtelet and Tanglewood, Aspen, Ojai, Ravinia, Talis, & Bennington Music Festivals, as well as the League of American Orchestras Composer in Residency with the Richmond Symphony. Her numerous honors also include those from the Guggenheim, Koussevitzky, and Fromm Foundations; the Copland House, MacDowell, Yaddo, Bogliasco and Bellagio fellowships, Harvard Musical Association, Chamber Music America, Radcliffe Institute, ALEA III and two American Academy of Arts and Letters awards. Her music has been described as “evince(ing) an acute sonic imagination and sure command of craft.” (Chicago Tribune), “darkly attractive, artful and moving…” (NYT) and “shrewd composing, the genuine article. Onto the ‘season’s best’ list it goes.” (Boston Globe)”. A SF Classical Voice review of her opera Artemisia, titled “Left Coast Chamber Ensemble Proves That Great Opera Needn’t Be Grand” read “Artemisia is sumptuous on every level.” Colin Clarke wrote about her CD, featuring the JACK, QUARTETS (Fanfare)  “the sheer intensity of the music is spellbinding…as if the passion of the composer shines through like alight.”

The first composer to win the Berlin Prize, and the 2023 American Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives award recipient ($50,000), the largest award of its kind for opera in the US. UW-Madison Professor 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.

 

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Laura at Yaddo with Jennifer Karady, Jackie Lydon

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