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Concert 2: World Premieres

Internationally-acclaimed violist Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti and pianist Karl Larson premiere new viola sonatas from three of the world’s leading composers of their generation: Andrew Norman, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and Scott Wollschleger. These works were commissioned, developed, and will be recorded and performed around the world by Lanzilotti and Larson as a part of their 20/19 project, dedicated to expanding the viola repertoire. In addition, local cellist James Waldo will premiere a cello work from UW-Madison professor Les Thimmig. Don’t miss this chance to see the birth of these important new works!

Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students. Subscriptions to all three concerts available for $35.


Les Thimmig - Starlighter I (1995; world premiere performance. James Waldo, cello)

20/19 project:
Anna Thorvaldsdottir - Sola (2019; world premiere performance. Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, viola)
Andrew Norman - Liquid, Languid (2019; world premiere performance. Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, viola; Karl Larson, piano)
Scott Wollschleger - Lost Anthems (2019; world premiere performance. Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, viola; Karl Larson, piano)


The 20/19 Project is rooted in the legacy of the viola. While researching repertoire, I came across a surprising historical synchronicity: three of the most performed viola sonatas in the repertoire were created in the same year, 1919. That year, arts patron Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge held her annual composition competition, encouraging two of her close friends—Rebecca Clarke and Ernest Bloch—to submit viola sonatas. Halfway around the world, a young Paul Hindemith was finding his voice and wrote his own viola sonata inspired by Claude Debussy's colorful writing. These pieces have become staples of the viola repertoire through performances by great viola soloists such as Clarke and Hindemith themselves, scholarship, and recordings/curation of the three works together because of their origins in the same year.

We celebrate the centennial through new sonatas by Andrew Norman, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and Scott Wollschleger. Legacy is developed over time through the impact of works which are given substantial resources beyond the premiere: in particular, high-quality recordings lead to repeated performances and integration into curriculum. The 20/19 Project will go beyond the commissions and premieres of the sonatas to include recordings of the works and video tutorials to show extended techniques used with brief interviews of the composers. Through this extensive free educational resource (an expansion of other performers, students, and audience members will have a window into the creative process and a way to continue to learn the works, advocate for a culture of curiosity, and support a thriving culture of contemporary music for everyone. (-Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti, 2019)

Starlighter I for solo cello is an episodic fantasy, exploring and interweaving fresh melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic possibilities for the instrument. The piece, loosely residing in and around E-flat major, opens with smoky lyricism, steadily building into a hot swing before finally unwinding back into familiar material from the opening. Written in 1995, the piece has waited 24 years to receive its premiere.

Les Thimmig was born March 19, 1943 in Santa Maria, California. His childhood was spent in Joliet, Illinois, where the many opportunities and motivation of the greater Chicago area allowed him to develop his interests in classical performance (clarinet), jazz performance (saxophone), composition (classical and jazz), and conducting. During his collegiate education (B.M. from Eastman, M.M.A. and D.M.A. from Yale; all in composition), he was also active in the free-lance performing areas of New York City, Boston, and the connecting areas. After a year of teaching in Yale’s theory department, he assumed the directorship of the composition/theory department of the University of Victoria (B.C.). After two years, he was brought to the University of Wisconsin to direct the composition program. Several years later, he diversified, adding woodwind performance and jazz studies to his educational offerings. He remains active in all the above-mentioned areas.

Anna Thorvaldsdottir (b. 1977) is an Icelandic composer whose “seemingly boundless textural imagination” (NY Times) and “striking” (Guardian) sound world has made her “one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music” (NPR). “Never less than fascinating” (Gramophone), her music is composed as much by sounds and nuances as by harmonies and lyrical material, and tends to evoke “a sense of place and personality” (NY Times) through a distinctive “combination of power and intimacy” (Gramophone). It is written as an ecosystem of sounds, where materials continuously grow in and out of each other, often inspired in an important way by nature and its many qualities, in particular structural ones, like proportion and flow. Anna’s works have been nominated and awarded on many occasions - most notably, her “confident and distinctive handling of the orchestra” (Gramophone) has garnered her the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize, the New York Philharmonic's Kravis Emerging Composer Award, and Lincoln Center’s Emerging Artist Award and Martin E. Segal Award.

Andrew Norman (b. 1979) is a Los Angeles-based composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music. Recently praised as “the leading American composer of his generation” by the Los Angeles Times, “one of the most gifted and respected composers of his generation” by the New York Times, and the “master of a uniquely dazzling and mercurial style” by the New Yorker, Andrew is fast becoming one of the most sought after voices in American classical music. Andrew’s work draws on an eclectic mix of sounds and performance practices and is deeply influenced by his training as a pianist and violist as well as his lifelong love of architecture. Andrew is increasingly interested in story-telling in music, and specifically in the ways non-linear, narrative-scrambling techniques from movies and video games might intersect with traditional symphonic forms. His distinctive voice has been cited in the New York Times for its “daring juxtapositions and dazzling colors,” in the Boston Globe for its “staggering imagination,” and in the L.A. Times for its “audacious” spirit.

Scott Wollschleger (b. 1980) is a composer who grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. His music has been highly praised for its arresting timbres and conceptual originality. Wollschleger “has become a formidable, individual presence” in the contemporary musical landscape (The Rest Is Noise, Alex Ross). His distinct musical language explores themes of art in dystopia, the conceptualization of silence, synesthesia, and creative repetition in form. His music has been described as “apocalyptic”, “distinctive and magnetic” and possessing a “hushed, cryptic beauty” (The New Yorker, Alex Ross) and as “evocative” and “kaleidoscopic” (The New York Times). Much of Mr. Wollschleger’s music features a sense of “timeless lyricism”, something that influential avant-garde jazz pianist and blogger Ethan Iverson described as “the highlight of the disc” in his enthusiastic review of Mr. Wollschleger’s Brontal No. 3, on Barbary Coast, a 2014 New Focus Records release. His concert works can be heard across the US and the world, most recently featured at MATA Festival Interval Series, the International Music Institute at Darmstadt, and the Festival of New American Music in Sacramento. His critically acclaimed piano concerto, Meditation on Dust, was recently performed with pianist Karl Larson alongside Bang on a Can Festival fellows at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. His apocalyptic monodrama, We Have Taken and Eaten, was recently featured on NPR’s Arts & Letters.

Tickets: $15/$5 students. Subscriptions to all concerts available for just $35!

Earlier Event: August 9
Concert 1: Music from Wisconsin
Later Event: August 11
Concert 3: SistaStrings