Heather O’Donnell Pianist
May 19, 2004 will mark the 50th year since the death of American composer Charles Ives. Many contemporary composers of various nationalities or aesthetic orientations continue to cite Ives as an essential and integral influence on their own music. His resonance and impact on contemporary music continues to be strongly perceived as we enter the 21st-Century. In commemoration of Ives's life, music, and legacy, pianist Heather O'Donnell has commissioned seven composers to write a piano piece for a program that will include performances of Ives’s own piano works. The following composers have created a new work for this project:
Sidney Corbett (U.S./Germany) Celestial Potato Fields
Michael Finnissy (England) Song of Myself
George Flynn (U.S.) Remembering
Frederic Rzewski(U.S./Belgium) Johnny has Gone for a Soldier for improvising pianist
Oliver Schneller (Germany/U.S.) And Tomorrow… for piano and electronics
James Tenney (Canada/U.S.) Essays after a Sonata for inside-piano
Walter Zimmermann (Germany) Groll und Dank for piano + toy-piano
Together these composers display contemporary expressions of Ives's own characteristics: fierce individuality, progressiveness, idealism, improvisatory talent, sharp wit, use of the vernacular in concert music, political engagement, or activity as pianist-composers.
This concert is being offered to festivals and venues in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and will be presented in various formats. The German premiere took place at Berlin’s prestigious MaerzMusik Festival on March 21st 2004.
Mode Records in New York will produce a CD of the commissioned works interspersed with Ives’s piano pieces that will be released in the summer of 2004.
Heather O'Donnell has earned a reputation as an important figure in the new generation of Ives interpreters. She has performed Ives's works throughout the United States and Europe to highest critical acclaim.
Funding for this project has been generously provided by MaerzMusik/Berliner Festspiele, Canada Arts Council, G. Schirmer, Inc., Peer International Corporation, the Puffin Foundation, AmerikaHaus Berlin, Kenneth Derus, and Dr. Donald Casey.
"…She played with easy mastery and very evident enjoyment a wide range of music…Her two recitals concluded with as fine an account of Ives’s “Hawthorne" as you are likely to be
lucky enough to encounter."
Peter Grahame Woolf, Seen and Heard Magazine, London
"O'Donnell's intuitive playing reached great depths and clearly defined Emerson mulling over disparate
elements, confronting knotty contradictions and achieving fresh syntheses. Her strength and
mastery of these infamously difficult passages were indeed impressive."
Phyllis Hughes, The Concord Journal, Concord MA
“Heather O’Donnell plays with spirit, intelligence, and heart... Outstanding in my memory is the performance
she gave of Ives' "Hawthorne" in a concert at the [New England] Conservatory, which nearly
leaped off the stage with its energy, contrasts, and hallucinatory vision.”
Stephen Drury, pianist