by Jarrett Hoffman
IN THIS EDITION:
•Announcements: Assembly for the Arts’ “Quarterly State of the Arts,” Quire Cleveland re-broadcast on WCLV, and a call from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture for arts and culture professionals from outside NE Ohio
•Almanac: American composer Lee Hyla and his distinctive blend of styles
Assembly for the Arts will host a Quarterly State of the Arts tomorrow, June 7 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Cleveland Institute of Music. “Stay current on how Assembly is working to ‘expand the pie’ and increase equity in Cleveland’s arts and culture scene through advocacy, cultural policy, racial equity initiatives, research, and programs for nonprofits, artists, and creative businesses. Join the discussion, give feedback, share ideas, ask questions, be heard, and connect with our community’s amazing talent.” RSVP here.
Also happening tomorrow, June 7 at 8:00 pm, WCLV’s Cleveland Ovations will broadcast Quire Cleveland’s April 23 performance of the program “Pater Noster: Our Father,” including John Simna’s interview at intermission with artistic director Jay White. Tune in here. And for some added visuals, you can follow along with the program booklet and view photos from the performances (like the one above).
And Cuyahoga Arts & Culture is looking for arts and culture professionals from outside Northeast Ohio to serve as panelists for the 2024 grant application review. Send in the self-nomination form by June 9. Learn more here.
Last year’s almanac covered the birthdays of English composer and organist Sir John Stainer (born in 1840 in London), Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian (1903 in Tbilisi), and American composer Vincent Persichetti (1915 in Philadelphia).
This year, we turn to a 20th-21st century American composer who died on this date in 2014, someone who may not be a household name but who was highly accomplished and highly regarded: Lee Hyla.
Hyla served as chair of the composition departments at both New England Conservatory and the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University. What’s more, populating his resume are some of the most coveted awards in the business, including a Guggenheim fellowship and the Rome Prize, as well as the Stoeger Prize from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and the Goddard Lieberson Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Former New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini aptly described the composer’s unique blend of styles, writing, “Lee Hyla writes works that deftly blend expressionistic, complex contemporary atonal idioms with elements of avant-garde jazz, rock, and even punk. But this description, though true as far as it goes, does not begin to convey the ingenious skill and sheer originality of Mr. Hyla’s music…he excels at what every composer strives to do: to take the sounds that capture him and fashion them into a distinctive voice.”
Tommasini was quite an advocate of Hyla’s. Noting the composer’s desire to compose for full orchestra, Tommasini wrote, “American orchestras keep commissioning the same handful of tame Neo-Romantics…Here is a truly original composer who at 50 has yet to gain the attention he deserves.”
One of Hyla’s most famous works is the Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra No. 2. Listen here and get a taste of what that Mr. Tommasini means.