Faculty to present new work by American composer, with college symphony, during Homecoming weekend
A one-of-a-kind work by award-winning composer Avner Dorman, written for the Ekstasis Duo, will receive its local premiere with the Fredonia College Symphony Orchestra in King Concert Hall on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 8 p.m.
The duo includes cellist Dr. Natasha Farny and pianist Dr. Eliran Avni of the Fredonia School of Music faculty. The double concerto for cello and piano and flexible ensemble is one of the few double concertos specifically written for cello and piano.
The concert is free and open to the public.
Jaman Dunn, who has been assistant conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, will take the podium as conductor for the greatly anticipated event that is part of this year’s Homecoming activities.
"I am very excited to be joining the faculty at Fredonia this fall," Dunn said. "Education is extremely important to me, and this opportunity allows me to continue to reach back and give students tools to succeed in their respective paths. Adding to the fun, I have the opportunity to work with Avner Dorman on his new double concerto with the orchestra, as well as some Shostakovich on this first concert!"
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to write a concerto for the Ekstasis Duo,” Dr. Dorman said. “It’s rare to hear such a high level of musicianship paired with technical prowess from two performers, and to write for both of them is a dream come true. I look forward to how this piece comes together, and I have no doubt that we will create exciting, expressive, and heartfelt music together.
“It’s particularly exciting to collaborate again with my dear friend Eliran Avni, for whom I’ve written many pieces and who has recorded many of my piano and chamber works,” Dorman added.
Reflecting the current times, the new work is written to accommodate performances with a small ensemble (12 players – strings, winds and percussion), who can be socially distanced on stage, or with a full orchestra.
The Dorman commission was made possible by a generous donation made to the Fredonia College Foundation in support of the project. The donor, SUNY Fredonia alumnus Christian Granger, ’66, dedicated the commission “in gratitude to the State University of New York at Fredonia School of Music, and the Class of 1966.” He was a longtime loyal supporter of SUNY Fredonia until his untimely passing in 2020. Granger had intended to encourage School of Music alumni and members of the Class of 1966 to attend the event and consider their own legacy to Fredonia.
Additional support for the Dorman commission was received from consortium member Sewanee Summer Music Festival of Sewanee, Tenn., where the work was performed this past summer.
Renowned for writing music of intricate craftsmanship and rigorous technique, expressed with a soulful and singular voice, Dorman is an award-winning composer, educator and conductor born in Israel who now resides in the United States.
Drawing upon a variety of cultural and historical influences in composing, the result is music that creates an emotional impact while exploring new territories. Dorman’s works utilize an exciting and complex rhythmic vocabulary, as well as unique timbres and colors in orchestral, chamber, and solo settings.
His works have been performed and have received premieres by distinguished orchestras and ensembles worldwide, including, in the recent 2019-20 season, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the National Arts Centre Orchestra. His recent large-scale opera “Wahnfried” was premiered at Badisches Staatstheater in Karlsruhe.
Presenting compelling programming celebrating masterpieces alongside the secret jewels of lesser-known works is at the heart of Avni’s and Farny’s performances as the Ekstasis Duo. With a focus on storytelling that pinpoints an aspect of the human condition or creates an atmosphere through sound, their concerts offer compellingly juxtaposed solo and chamber music works, and occasionally incorporate multimedia, readings, video and visual art.
Cellist Farny is an accomplished soloist and chamber musician who has performed throughout the United States, Germany, Italy, The Czech Republic and Brazil. Her recordings can be heard on the Centaur label.
Praised as possessing both "ironclad technique" and "ample suppleness" by The New York Times, pianist Avni is a respected force in the contemporary classical music scene. Having made his debut with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta at age 17, he has since appeared as a soloist and chamber music collaborator throughout Europe, North and South America, and in his native Israel. His recordings can be heard on the Naxos, Tzadik and SHUFFLE Concert labels.
Since its debut in 2018, Ekstasis Duo has appeared on reputable series including New York City’s Merkin Hall, Saugerties ProMusica and Rochester’s Live from Hochstein. Postponed engagements due to COVID-19 include California’s L'Ermitage Foundation in Los Angeles and Tateuchi Hall at the Finn Center at Mountainview, New York’s Community School of Music and Arts, Bard College, Maryland’s Resonance Concert Series, Eastman School of Music and GetClassical Revelation Gallery.