MARGARET BROUWER (b 1940 )
Composer Margaret Brouwer’s music has earned singular praise for its lyricism, musical imagery, and emotional power. Ms. Brouwer received an award from the Academy of Arts and letters in 2006 and was named a Guggenheim Fellow for 2004, for her “unusually impressive achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.” She was awarded an Ohio Council for the Arts Individual Fellowship for 2005. In January 2006, Naxos released a CD of her orchestral music called Aurolucent Circles (CD # 8.559250) featuring Evelyn Glennie, solo percussionist and The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with Gerard Schwarz conducting. In review of the title work on the CD, Lawson Taitte of The Dallas Morning News praises Brouwer saying, “Ms. Brouwer has one of the most delicate ears and inventive imaginations among contemporary American composers…Ms. Brouwer not only gets seductive sounds out of the instruments, she also creates a dramatic through line that keeps the attention riveted for 27 minutes.”
In the 2008/09 season, the Detroit Symphony will premiere Rhapsody for Orchestra, and the American Composers Orchestra will premiere BREAKDOWN at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. BREAKDOWN is a collaborative work by Brouwer and video/sound artist Kasumi. In April 2008, Shattered Glass was premiered by MOSAIC. In March 2007, violinist Michi Wiancko and conductor James Gaffigan premiered Brouwer’s Concerto for Violin and Chamber Orchestra with CityMusic Cleveland Chamber Orchestra. In reviewing this work, Donald Rosenberg wrote “…what makes her concerto so alluring is its surprising tension between skittish and poetic material. The three-movement commissioned work abounds in extroverted passages that call upon the soloist to negotiate acrobatic flights and suddenly switch gears. In the opening “Narrative,” the violinist has long, bravura statements that melt seamlessly into tender utterances and back again.” Fling was premiered at the Cutting Room in NYC in February 2007 by the Sweet Plantain string quartet. In the 2005-06 season Trio was premiered by the Verdehr Trio and Light for soprano, harpsichord, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and percussion was performed at the Tanglewood Music Center’s 2005 Festival of Contemporary Music. Reviewing this concert Allan Kozinn wrote in the New York Times, “Margaret Brouwer’s fantastically eclectic “Light” filtered fragments of medieval and Renaissance pieces through a prism of free-ranging melody.”
In 2003 a New World Records disc of Brouwer’s called “Light,” (CD# 80606-2) received wide acclaim. In reviewing this release, Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found Brouwer to be “that rarity, a contemporary composer whose music is accessible and engaging for a wide range of audiences, but whose work doesn’t sound like movie music. She’s not afraid to be spiky when spikiness is indicated, but there’s never a sense in any of these works that she’s using atonality for its own sake. And often her sonic world is utterly luminous in its beauty.” (January 15,2004) Similarly, Fanfare magazine praised the new disc in the following terms: “Brouwer’s music has a sense of stylistic independence and an openness of spirit…The melodies are memorable, their cut Brouwer’s own; the instrumental writing is unique, sharp, and always expressive.” (May/June 2004) In addition to Naxos and New World, other recordings of Ms. Brouwer’s music can be found on the CRI, Crystal, Centaur, and Opus One labels. Remarkable for its poetical sensibility, Ms. Brouwer’s music also reveals musical craftsmanship of the highest order. These qualities are found in music ranging from symphonic works for full orchestra to a variety of chamber combinations such as string quartet, trios, duos and pieces for such diverse solo instruments as the horn, piano, and flute. Ms. Brouwer’s sterling reputation for writing brilliant and riveting music has sparked a recent upsurge of interest in her music.
Many of the country’s most distinguished ensembles in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Cleveland regularly program her works. In New York Ms. Brouwer’s music has been programmed by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; at Steinway Hall, Merkin Hall, the Cutting Room, and Symphony Space; by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s on its “Second Helping” series; and by the Cassatt and Cavani String Quartets. Her works have also been played by the Seattle Symphony; and in Washington, D.C. audiences at the Kennedy Center, the Concoran Gallery, and the Philips Gallery have heard her music.
Brouwer’s music is published by Pembroke Music Co., Inc., a division of Carl Fischer LLC. She served as head of the composition department and holder of the Vincent K. and Edith H. Smith Chair in Composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music from 1996 to 2008. Additional honors include grants and awards from NEA, Ford Foundation, Knight Foundation, Meet the Composer, Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the Indiana Arts Commission, as well as residencies at the MacDowell Colony where she has been a Norton Stevens Fellow, Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Wellesley Composers conference, and the Charles Ives Center for American Music. Brouwer’s teachers included Donald Erb, George Crumb, and Frederick Fox.
A highlight of recent performances included the world premiere of Brouwer’s percussion concerto, “Aurolucent Circles,” by virtuoso percussionist Evelyn Glennie and the Seattle Symphony under Gerard Schwarz. In the words of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “(Brouwer) has written a marvelous display piece…music (that is) effective and solid, often rather atmospheric, and gives the percussion soloist many opportunities.”
Other performance highlights included “Mandala” by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Gunther Schuller conducting (2003); “Skyriding” by New York City’s St. Luke’s Orchestra as part of its “Second Helping” series (2004); “Sonata for Horn and Piano” by David Jolley at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Double Exposure series (2003) “Fling” by Sweet Plantain Quartet at NYC’s Cutting Room (2007) “Demeter Prelude” and Crosswinds” throughout the US by the Cavani String Quartet on tour (2004-05); “Skyriding” by the Contemporary Music Forum in Washington D.C.(2005); “Skyriding” by Anne Marie McDermott, Tara O’Conner and members of the Borremeo Quartet at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; “Clarinet Concerto” by Richard Stoltzman and the Roanoke Symphony; “Diary of an Alien” and “Skyriding” in a Prelude Concert of the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington,D.C. (2001); “Pulse” by the Roanoke Symphony (premier, 2003); the Ohio Bicentennial commissioned work, “Century’s Song” by the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra (premier) and the Canton, Columbus, and Springfield Symphonies among others. SIZZLE (premiere) by the Women’s Philharmonic of San Francisco (2000), Symphony No. 1 by the Akron, Wichita, Long Beach Symphonies and Women’s Philharmonic.
For further information, please visit Margaret Brouwer’s website http://www.brouwermusic.com/