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March 10, 2015
Applications Open for Stockhausen Piano Academy in Munich

Applications are now open for a piano academy Pierre-Laurent Aimard will be leading alongside Tamara Stefanovich devoted to the piano music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Taking place at Munich’s Hochschule für Musik und Theater München and the Bavarian Radio October 16 through 20, the curriculum will revolve around the composer's Klavierstücke I-XI. The academy is an initiative of musica viva des Bayerischen Rundfunks in cooperation with Hochschule für Musik und Theater München, and is being held in advance of the music viva Stockhausen Festival, in which Aimard and Stefanovich will also participate.

“The Klavierstücke are my drawings,” Karlheinz Stockhausen once said of his piano works. Written between 1952 and 1961, his Klavierstücke I-XI are now widely regarded as milestones in the history of modern and avant-garde piano music, encapsulating all the possibilities of the medium from the miniature to large-scale form. Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke are a composer’s paradigmatic statement on how to play chamber music and works for solo piano: “Anyone who writes piano music today, in other words, anyone who explores and expands the possibilities of a single instrument and of a single player with his or her ten fingers and two feet consciously chooses the virtues of discipline, concentration, simplicity and subtlety.”

The academy is aimed at pianists with a particular interest not only in Stockhausen’s piano music but also in repertoire of the modern and avant-garde periods in general. It is designed to appeal to pianists with proven abilities in the Classical and Romantic traditions as well. The program is provided free of charge to accepted applicants, but participants will be required to cover the costs of travel and accommodation. Interested pianists are invited to apply here before April 7 and can direct questions via email to mv-akademie@br.de.

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February 21, 2015
Pierre-Laurent Aimard Tours All-Boulez Program with Tamara Stefanovich

Pierre-Laurent Aimard returns to the United States in March to showcase the work of Pierre Boulez, a composer with whom he has enjoyed a long and exceptionally rich personal and professional history. At the age of 19, at the composer-conductor’s invitation, Aimard became a founding member of Ensemble Intercontemporain, Boulez’s IRCAM-based chamber orchestra, and he played with the group for many years, participating in a number of major premieres. Together with pianist Tamara Stefanovich, with whom he was honored with a Grammy nomination for their recording of Bartók’s Concerto for Two Pianos, the two pianists bring an all-Boulez program to Berkeley’s Cal Performances series on March 12, Chicago’s Symphony Center on March 15, New York’s Carnegie Hall on March 16, and Carolina Performing Arts in Chapel Hill on March 18, with a preview at Cornell University on March 8. They reprise this program later in the month at Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ on March 25 and will perform it this summer at Italy’s Ravenna Festival on June 7.

Photo © Frank Alexander Rümmele

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February 9, 2015
Pierre-Laurent Aimard Performs U.S. Premiere of New Birtwistle Premiere with Boston Symphony

Aimard reunites with Stefan Asbury on February 12 to give the American premiere of Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Responses: sweet disorder and the carefully careless in three performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall. This is the fourth of the ensembles that co-commissioned the work for Aimard, and these performances follow concerts in Munich, also under the directorship of Asbury, in Porto with Peter Eötvös, and in London under Vladimir Jurowski, which highlighted “Birtwistle at 80” celebrations at the Royal Festival Hall. Jurowski was originally scheduled to conduct the performances in Boston but was forced to withdraw due to via issues.

Birtwistle took his concerto’s subtitle – Sweet disorder and the carefully careless – from an essay collection by Princeton architect Robert Maxwell, which he describes as capturing “the essence of what I’m doing. It’s a resonant phrase. I identify with his ideas on modernism but I take it on a simple level too.” Responses draws on his Gabrieli-inspired ensemble piece, In Broken Images (2012). Like the earlier work, his new concerto makes extensive use of the medieval hocket principle, by which a single melody is shared between voices. “The piece is a dialogue,” he explains: “The whole piece is about hocket: it’s full of it. The piano is able to play one of the voices of the hocket, so allowing it to be heard throughout. The piano here is like a frame and the orchestral response is the window.”

Sir Harrison Birtwistle is one of the contemporary composers that Aimard – as performer, programmer, and commissioner – has most consistently championed. Ten years ago, during the English composer’s 70th birthday celebrations at London’s Royal Festival Hall, he gave performance”of Birtwistle’s first piano concerto, Antiphonies.

A video of Aimard in rehearsal for October’s world premiere of Responses with the Bavarian Radio Symphony and Stefan Asbury is available here, featuring an exclusive interview with the composer.

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