Evan Ziporyn, the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Music and an award-winning composer and performer, has a lively musical calendar in any given year, one reflection of his innovative, exploratory work. But the 2010-11 season has emerged as an especially rich confluence of major musical events involving his compositions, performances and works.
Highlights this fall include the Boston and New York premieres of Ziporyn’s opera, “A House in Bali;” an evening at Carnegie Hall devoted to performances of Ziporyn’s compositions; and the U.S. premiere of a new work by 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner Steve Reich. The spring of 2011 will include performances at major festivals in London, Hong Kong and Australia, culminating back in Boston with the world premiere of Ziporyn's new "Tabla Concerto," with Sandeep Das and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.
Ziporyn, who has focused on cross-cultural works for 30 years, is reluctant to ascribe too much to the yearlong confluence of productions. He acknowledges "feelings of happiness and satisfaction,” but says he is only doing what he has always done, following his interest in music across cultures, listening, composing and performing. He confesses to some elation that many others are now joining him in opening their ears.
“Evan’s modesty is disarming,” says School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Dean Deborah Fitzgerald. “But make no mistake: Evan Ziporyn is an extraordinarily talented musician, composer, teacher and collaborator who celebrates the musical distinctiveness within cultures as well as the commonalities across cultures. His work challenges the listener to rethink traditional categories of sound and apprehension, and inspires us to expand our understanding of what music can do in our hearts and heads. MIT is extremely fortunate to have someone who fits the experimental, rigorous ethos of the Institute so beautifully.”
Inspiration in Bali
Ziporyn says that one of the most inspiring moments in his life occurred in the summer of 2009, during the process of pulling together the parts of “A House in Bali," when he introduced musicians of different cultures to each other. He remembers a hot tropical day in a small brick hall in Bali where he had gathered the Balinese and American musicians.
“We were on the second floor above a market, the windows thrown open — with the sounds of cars, merchants and barking dogs. I had the Balinese musicians play for Bang on a Can. I had Bang on a Can play for the Balinese. Everyone’s jaws just dropped. People heard the unfamiliar and the correspondent, the similar in different sensibilities. It was a very emotional moment. It was what I’ve always wanted and worked for — to share ideas, to share sounds; to make something beautiful and moving.”
Carnegie Hall video interview
In advance of his Zankel Hall Making Music concert on Oct. 30, the Carnegie Hall team asked Ziporyn to give a video interview about his musical inspiration, development, and direction. In this first installation from the Carnegie Hall interview Ziporyn talks about how he first began to engage with Balinese music and culture, and how it has influenced his musical direction.
Video: Carnegie Hall