Laura Elise Schwendinger was the first composer to win the prestigious American Academy in Berlin Prize fellowship. Her setting of in Just- spring has been performed on tour by Dawn Upshaw and Gilbert Kalish, at venues including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, the National Arts Center in Canada and at the Tanglewood and Ojai Music Festivals. It is available on a Naxos TDK/DVD, Voices of Our Time, with Ms. Upshaw from the Theatre du Chatelet-Paris.
Laura was just honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters with one of two $15,000 Goddard Lieberson Fellowships (2009), given to 'mid-career composers of exceptional gifts'. Her other honors include fellowships and commissions from the Guggenheim Foundation (2008), the Koussevitzky (2001) and Fromm Foundations (1999), the Harvard Musical Association (1999), a Bunting Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2002/2003), a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1993), a Copland award from the Copland House (2007), a Jane Adams Wait residency from Yaddo (2005), a Judge's Commendation from the Barlow Endowment (1995), a Norton Stevens and North Shore fellowship from the MacDowell Colony (1994), two Meet the Composer Grants(1997,1998), an American Composers Forum Grant and First Prize of the 1995 ALEA III International Composition Competition (the first American winner in over a decade), an Illinois Arts Council grant, and fellowships from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, including the H. I. Romnes Faculty named fellowship (2008) and an Emily Mead Baldwin-Bascom Professorship in the Creative Arts (2006) and grants from the University of Illinois at Chicago (1999,2000) for the creation of a new concert work and recording project with the Chicago Chamber Musicians. And in 2005, her Nonet was nominated for the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award by the Chicago Chamber Musicians.
Recent performances include her Chiaroscuro Azzurro, for violinist Jennifer Koh and the International Contemporary Ensemble, commissioned by Miller Theater of Columbia University (3/27/08) as part of thier 'Pocket Concerto' series, the Orion Ensemble (March 2009), Jenny Lin (Womens's work in NY and Bargemusic 5/1/2009); Several performances of her High Wire Act, by The Piitsburgh New Music Ensemble (7/14-15/09), the American Modern Ensemble (8/08) at the Times Center in NYC, and with the Left Bank Concert Society at the Kennedy Center (12/08). Other recent performances include her Garden of Earthly Delights, premiered by the Cygnus Ensemble (12/16/08) at Sarah Lawrence College, Esprimere a cello concerto for Matt Haimovitz and the University of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra (3/28/07), and Three's a Crowd with the B3+ brass trio for Composers Concordance (4/4/08), Aerialist for by Christina Jennings, premiered at Symphony Space, New York (11/30/06), 2 little whos for the violin and guitar ensemble Duo 46 (10/3/06), a setting of Sylvia Plath's Lady Lazarus, commissioned by Nicole Paiement and the Ensemble Parallele for the opening concert of the 2005/2006 Blueprint Series at the SanFrancisco Conservatory of Music (10/05) with Canadian mezzo-soprano Patricia Green, Respiro for violist Sally Chisholm (of the ProArte String Quartet) and pianist Christopher Taylor (3/06), Elements for Anthony Di Sanza and his Western Percussion Ensemble at UW-Madison, a new work for the Lincoln Trio (5/06), Basso-Non Profundo by bassist David Murray (11/06), and High Wire Act for Christina Jennings and the BrightMusic ensemble (11/05), which received a standing ovation at its premiere.
Upcoming performances include an entire concert of her works as part of the Four Score Festival at the Music Institute of Chicago, and Eighth Blackbird, as part of the Contempo Series at the University of Chicago (11/14/2009), pianist Christopher Taylor, the Corigliano String Quartet, the percussion/piano duo Sole Nero (Fall 2009), and Garden of Earthly Delights by Cygnus Ensemble on the Cutting Edge concert series at Symphony Space (April 2010) and new works for Boston Musica Viva, the Lincoln Trio and the Sharoun Ensemble from the Berlin Philharmonic. In November 2008, Matt Haimovitz returned to Madison to record Esprimere with the UW Modern Sinfonietta, an orchestra of faculty and students from the UW School of Music with Nicole Paiement conducting and will be realeased on an Albany CD Two Concerti, also featured is Chiaroscuro Azurro for Violin and Sinfionetta (commissioned by Miller Theater in New York).
Performances of her music also include the premiere of her String Quartet by the Arditti Quartet (1/03) as part of the great quartet series at MIT (A Harvard Musical Association commission), Celestial City (a Koussevitzky Foundation commission) featuring the dynamic young recording artist Janine Jansen with Spectrum Concerts of Berlin at the Berlin Philharmonie Kammermusiksaal (1/03), Fable by Collage New Music at Harvard University (2/03), Magic Carpet Music by Dinosaur Annex in Boston (5/03) and the piano version with Jenny Lin on a WFMT Radio broadcast, Dame Myra Hess Concert (4/03) and Galapagos Art Space (NY), Rapture, by Jens Peter-Maintz, on a Deutsches Symphonie Orchestra Berlin, Akademie-konzerte(4/03), Buenos Aires by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (8/03), Lontano for Chicago's CUBE ensemble (3/04) and Nonet (a Fromm Foundation Commission), for the Chicago Chamber Musicians, premiered on live from WFMT radio (8/04), and New 2 little whosby German duo Ahlert & Schwab with the Chicago Composer's Consortium (5/05).Her Songs of Heaven and Earth, and Magic Carpet Music for the Theater Chamber Players, were premiered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
In addition, her music has been performed by the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra of Hungary, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the New York Camerata, ALEA III, the New England String Ensemble, the New Millennium Ensemble, the Northwestern University New Music Ensemble, Vancouver New Music, and the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society (Merkin Hall, NY). In June 2005, she was composer in residence at Chamber Music Quad Cities (Greg Sauer, Director) in Davenport, Iowa and in April of 2001, the 'Music For A While' series at the Music Institute of Chicago, presented an entire concert of her works.
Her music has been reviewed by the nation's leading newspapers. Her music has been called '...music of considerable power 'by Robert Commanday in the San Francisco Chronicle, as 'fanciful' by Anthony Tomassini of the New York Times, as having 'an impressive luster and transparency', poignant...and 'revel(ing) in sinewy counterpoint'... in the Washington Post, as 'delectable' and 'especially captivating' in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Richard Buell of the Boston Globe wrote 'This was shrewd composing, the genuine article. Onto the season's best list it goes', 'an unmistakable lyric intensity...a fine piece...worthy of the Arditti's attention', and ' Schwendinger's Magic Carpet Music like the composer's other music, rejoices in edge and has a force that has its way...Here is a composer with distinct voice.' Mark Kanny of the Pittsburgh Tribune wrote 'The absence of any visual entertainment for Schwendinger's Buenos Aires focused attention on the musical excellence of her hard-driving quartet for flute, bass clarinet, violin and cello. She creates fresh and compelling lines that are brought together to a powerful climax.' This last April, Stephen Brookes wrote in the Washington Post 'Different but ness engaging was Laura Schwendinger's 'High Wire Act,' a charming work inspired by Alexander Calder's circus figures.'
Ms. Schwendinger is an Associate Prof. of Composition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is also the Artistic Director of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley, where she studied with Andrew Imbrie, Olly Wilson and John Thow. She has also been an Associate Prof. of Composition and Theory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a lecturer at the Music Department of the University of California, Santa Cruz, Smith College and on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music-Preparatory Division, where she started a program for young composers. Her Chansons Innocentes, published by Hildegard Publishing Company, is available through Theodore Presser and her Chamber Concerto, reviewed in the American Record Guide as 'melodic and atmospheric', is on the CD Grand Designs from the Society of Composer's records series on Capstone records. Three upcoming CDs of her works are soon to be released. One of her chamber works will be released on the Centaur label, another CD with her two Concerti (Esprimere and Chiaroscuro Azzurro) will be released on Albany records and a third CD of her piano music played by the incomparable Christopher Taylor is planned for the coming year.
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