Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pierre Jalbert and Marcus Maroney Take Copland House

Less than one hour north of New York City is "a dwelling of particular historical interest" (The New York Post) -- the home where Aaron Copland lived from 1960 until his death in 1990. Copland is one of the most celebrated and influential American composers.

Aaron Copland was born in November 1900 in Brooklyn. He performed his first public performance as a pianist when he was 17 years old. In 1925, Copland performed his first major orchestral work, Symphony for Organ and Orchestra at Aeolian Hall. He's best known for his groundbreaking ballet scores, Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and Fanfare for the Common Man.

The Copland House serves as an artist retreat. "It's a wonderfully quiet and simple place, surrounded by trees, near the Hudson River, about 30 miles north of New York City," Pierre Jalbert said. "It's a great place for reflection and work." 

 Pierre Jalbert

Musiqa co-founder and composer Pierre Jalbert's first retreat at the Copland House was in 2000. Jalbert expected his recent time there to be quiet, productive, and free from distractions, just as he experienced it the first time around. 

"My time there turned out to be productive, but very different from my first time there," Jalbert said. "Back in 2000, I was under a deadline to finish a piece, and it was in June when the concert season is over, so I spent most of my time at the house working/composing." During that time, the concert season was in full swing, so Jalbert attended many of them and met with several people in the music industry.

Every year, about eight composers are selected to stay at the Copland House, one at a time. Its support for composers includes all-expenses-paid residencies; post residency awards and performances that further advance their work; fiscal sponsorships; and composer commissions.

"This residency is all about doing your creative work," said Jalbert. "Other residencies I've done, such as with orchestras, usually involve a busy schedule of rehearsals and concerts. There was an education component to this residency too, as I did some master classes at one of the local music schools."

During Jalbert's 2013 residency, he developed a relationship with Copland House’s Artistic and Executive Director Michael Boriskin, an internationally-active pianist and prolific recording artist, when he first stayed there 13 years ago. "They have an ensemble in residence, music from Copland House, and I've worked with the ensemble a number of times over the years,” said Jalbert. Boriskin and Jalbert are currently working on a CD project together.

Marcus Karl Maroney
Musiqa’s Artistic Board member and composer Marcus Karl Maroney also served as an artist-in-residence at the Copland House. Before his first residency in 2004-05, Maroney worked as a legal assistant at a law firm.

“My first residency came at a point when I was deciding whether or not to continue composing, a real crisis point in my career,” said Maroney. “I was considering law school, but gave one last final “push” of applications to various organizations, including the Copland House. Fortunately, several of the applications happened to pan out, which reignited my drive to compose and teach.”

During his first residency at the Copland House, Maroney was notified that he’d been chosen as a finalist for a position at the University of Houston. However, he couldn’t go to the interview until the last week of his residency.

“Of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a great job at a great school,” Maroney said. On the second to last day of his Copland House residency, Maroney was travelling to a concert in New York City.  “I got the offer from David White,” he said. “It was an excellent exclamation point on a very productive residency.”

Maroney stated that during his second residency, his life was more stable, while he was “in a state of flux” during his first. Maroney feels that these two moods can be seen in the pieces he worked on during his stay.

Since Maroney went to graduate school and taught in the general area of the Copland House, the residencies gave him a great chance to reconnect with schoolmates who stayed in the Tristate area and made great strides in their careers. “In turn, they introduced me to new performers and organizations in and around New York City and New Haven, and I’ve put them in contact with individuals and organizations here in Texas,” said Maroney.

This summer, Maroney plans to travel around the country for various performances. He has two small chamber commissions to complete and several scores to edit. Jalbert will be headed to Maine for the Seal Bay Music Festival in June and to San Antonio in July for a few performances. In August, Jalbert plans to go to Tanglewood, where his son will be playing clarinet in the orchestra for the Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) program. The BUTI program is recognized internationally as the premiere summer training program for aspiring high school-age musicians.

Written by Mia M. Smith

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