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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 15, 2005
CONTACT: Jette Englund
Office of University Relations
908-737-NEWS (6397)
E-mail: jenglund@kean.edu

Halper: Live at Lincoln Center

UNION, N.J. ––In 2003, Kean University’s resident composer, Dr. Matthew Halper, associate professor in the Department of Music, was commissioned to write a work for solo flute and large wind ensemble. Concerto for Flute and Wind Ensemble is now finalized, and audiences will have the opportunity to hear the world premiere of the 19-minute, single-movement piece performed on Sunday, March 20, at 5 p.m. in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City. General admission tickets are $10; $5 for students and seniors, and are available at the Alice Tully Hall Box Office. Free tickets and round-trip bus transportation from Kean University to the Lincoln Center performance will be available for Kean students, faculty and staff. Reservations are being accepted by the Wilkins Theatre Box Office at 908-737-SHOW (7469) on a limited basis.

After a performance of his Sonata for Flute and Piano at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in the spring of 2003, Halper was approached by conductor Stephen K. Steele about a large project he was spearheading. Steele, a noted proponent of contemporary music and professor at Illinois State University, was organizing a consortium of more than 30 universities to jointly commission three new works for wind symphony by three different composers – a complete concert and CD worth of world premieres. Steele decided that night that he would like Halper to join the project and compose a work for solo flute and large wind ensemble. Details were ironed out, contracts were signed, and by early 2004, Halper was at work on what would become his Concerto for Flute and Wind Ensemble.

“A wind ensemble or wind symphony is different from a traditional symphony orchestra in its lack of stringed instruments,” Halper explained. “You have the complete gamut of woodwind, brass and percussion instruments, but no violin, viola, cello or double bass sections.

“The challenges with this commission were great,” explained Halper: “I chose to work with a large instrumental palette – 32 players in total. I wanted to have the potential weight and variety associated with a large ensemble, but this raises problems of balance and contrast between the solo flute and the large array of other woodwind and brass instruments.” After nine months of work, the Concerto is now in the hands of the conductor and the ensemble players. “I strove to compose an expansive and dramatic work,” said Halper. “I hope that audiences will find it beautiful and affecting. This is what music does at its best.”

Steele will be conducting the Illinois State University Wind Ensemble for the recording of the three commissioned works on Albany Records in early March and will then take the ensemble on a several-state tour of concerts culminating in the performance at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Other members of the consortium, including University of Wisconsin, Florida State University, University of Arizona, University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University, and other noted institutions, will then have the right to subsequent performances.

Halper and the two other commissioned composers Samuel Zyman of the Juilliard School and David Maslanka, one of the most prominent composers in the wind symphony genre, will join Steele and the Illinois State University ensemble for the tour. “I am looking forward to hearing the work performed at so many different venues in such a short period of time – a rare opportunity for a composer,” Halper said. The composers will also participate in pre-concert discussions, workshops and lectures at various institutions along the tour route.

The Lincoln Center performance replaces the annual Ars Vitalis: The New Jersey New Music Forum which Halper founded and for which he serves as artistic director.