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The Music: Original Compositions
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Press Release: 28 February 2001

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Lasse Thoresen

THE MUSIC: COMPOSERS AND PERFORMERS

LASSE THORESEN - composer

Lasse Thoresen (b. 1949) is a professor of composition at the Norwegian State Academy of Music where he has taught composition, electrophony, and sonology since 1975. He received a graduate degree in composition in 1972 from the Oslo Music Conservatory, where he studied under Finn Mortensen, after which he studied electrophony and composition under Werner Kaegi at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht, the Netherlands. From 1988 to 2000 Mr. Thoresen occupied the principal chair of composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo.

A number of his works have achieved wide recognition, such as The Garden, written for the inauguration of the chamber music auditorium of the Oslo Concert Hall; Rettferdighetens Sol (The Sun of Justice), commissioned by the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra; Violin Concerto and Emergence, commissioned by the Oslo Philharmonic; and Bird of the Heart, written for the Oslo Trio. Mr. Thoresen has received a number of important awards: the Norwegian Society of Composers' Work of the Year award for Stages of the Inner Dialogue for piano (1981); the Critics' Award for Qudrat, a work for synthesizer and percussion and the Lindeman award for his work as a composer (1987); and the Spellemannsprisen-the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy-for the CD The Sonic Mind, a violin and a cello concerto recorded by the Oslo Philharmonic (1998).

Influenced by Norwegian folk music, French spectral music and Harry Partch's tonal system "Just Intonation," Mr. Thoresen has been working on microtonality since 1985. He was the first Norwegian composer to integrate the non-tempered intervals of folk music into art music. His 1992 work AbUno, which received the Work of the Year award in 1993, shows the influence of spectral music.

He says that his commitment to the Bahá'í Faith is what motivated him to express himself through music. In his own words: "Music is not just music.... It should not merely be an exposition on the potential of sound, it should use this potential to express the human condition."




Tolib Shahidi

TOLIB SHAHIDI - composer

Tolib Shahidi, born in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in 1946, began his musical career at the age of fourteen and graduated from the college of music in Dushanbe in 1965, from the composition class of Uri Ter-Osipov. That same year he entered the Moscow State Conservatory. During his student years, conductors such as Mikhail Terion and Maxim Shostakovich performed his orchestral and instrumental compositions. He graduated in 1972 from the class of Aram Khachaturian, who wrote on Mr. Shahidi's graduation photograph, 'Tolib, your time is precious.' Since then, this has become the composer's fundamental belief both in life and in his creative work.

With his understanding of orchestration and familiarity with different musical styles, Mr. Shahidi has composed innovative and powerful works that attempt to create a synthesis between East and West. His compositions for theater and cinema have drawn inspiration from playwrights such as Sophocles and Shakespeare. He has also written operas, ballets, symphonies, and instrumental compositions, fusing the best of European and Asian musical traditions.

A contemporary artist whose world outlook transcends national boundaries, Mr. Shahidi regularly participates in international festivals of contemporary and world music in a number of different countries. Tolib Shahidi won the International Competition of Contemporary Music in the United States in 1987, and the National Rudaki Prize in Tajikistan in 1993. He is currently working on a piece commissioned by renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma, director of "The Silk Road Project."




Stanley Sperber

STANLEY SPERBER - conductor

Stanley Sperber, the music director and chief conductor of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra from 1985 to 2000, is now its conductor laureate.

Mr. Sperber graduated from Columbia University in musicology and from the Julliard School of Music in conducting. In New York he founded the Zamir Chorale and made his Israel Philharmonic Orchestra debut in 1973, a year after immigrating to Israel. He served as the music director of the Holon Chamber Orchestra and the Tel Aviv Philharmonic Choir, and as the music director and chief conductor of the Rinat National Choir. He also conducted Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" at the New Israeli Opera.

Mr. Sperber has toured extensively in Europe and North America. He has conducted the Symphony Orchestra of Baku, Azerbaijan, the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic in Zholin, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra (London), the Budapest Philharmonic, orchestras in Canada and the USA, the Saloniki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Novosibirsk Philharmonic Orchestra, the Colorado Music Festival, the Estonian Symphony Orchestra, two performances of Handel's "Messiah" in Chicago's Orchestra Hall with a chorus of 2500 singers, the Sofia Symphony Orchestra, and the Krakow Symphony Orchestra.

While music director of the Haifa Symphony Orchestra, maestro Sperber commissioned numerous world premieres from Israeli composers and was recognized with awards such as the Order of Merit from the Israeli Composers Association (1987) and the National Council for the Arts and Culture Prize for the Performance of Israeli Music (1992).




Patricia Green

PATRICIA GREEN - mezzo-soprano

Mezzo-soprano Patricia Green has gained international acclaim for her expressive voice, noted for its three-octave ease in diverse repertoire, during performances at the Kennedy Center and the Concertgebouw with L'Orchestre de Radio-France, with the Dutch Radio Philharmonic, the National Symphony and the Cathedral Choral Society, and at the Posthoornkerk Concerts (Amsterdam), Continuum (London), MUSICA (Strasbourg), Library of Congress Concerts, Bethlehem Bach Society, Toronto Symphony's Massey Hall New Music Festival, the U.S. National Holocaust Museum Chamber Music series, Toronto's Opera in Concert, Vancouver New Music, Washington Choral Arts, Wolf Trap Festival, the Scotia Festival of Music, and the Michoacan Tri-National Arts Festival in Mexico. She is a member of Theatre Chamber Players of the Kennedy Center and has appeared with conductors Peter Eötvös, Zoltan Pesko, Leonard Slatkin, and Leon Fleisher. An avid performer of contemporary music, Ms. Green has sung works of Ligeti, Boulez, Berio, Dusapin, Schwantner, Schoenberg, Wuorinen, Berg, Schafer, and Weir, and has premiered many works of young composers.

Her performances have been broadcast on television and radio in Holland, France, Canada, and the US, and she has recorded the JS Bach and CPE Bach Magnificat with the Washington Bach Consort on CD.

Ms. Green received the Artist Diploma in Voice and the George Castelle Prize from the Peabody Conservatory, where she studied with Phyllis Bryn-Julson. She is a member of the voice faculty at Michigan State University. She comes from Saskatchewan, Canada.




Brett Polegato

BRETT POLEGATO - baritone

Baritone Brett Polegato has appeared on some of the world's most distinguished stages, including Lincoln Center, the Concertgebouw, the Royal Court Theatre of Versailles, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Roy Thomson Hall, the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and Carnegie Hall. His artistic sensibility has earned him high praise from both critics and juries.

In 1999, Mr. Polegato made his La Scala debut as Ned Keene in Peter Grimes. The previous season saw him debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Peter Niles in Mourning Becomes Electra. Other recent operatic appearances include the title role of Pelléas et Mélisande at Strasbourg's Opéra National du Rhin, Ubalde in the new production of Gluck's Armide with L'Opéra de Nice, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with the Vancouver Opera, the Count in Le Nozze di Figaro with the opera companies of Montreal and Quebec, Dandini in La Cenerentola with L'Opéra de Montréal, and the title role in Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at L'Opéra d'Avignon.

His oratorio repertoire includes Handel's Messiah, which he has sung with the Toronto Symphony, under conductor Sir Andrew Davis and with the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston under Andrew Parrott. The latter was recorded for Arabesque and released in July 2000. During the current season Mr. Polegato will be singing Bach's Christmas Oratorio with Les Violons du Roy, Carl Orff's Carmina Burana and a rarely- heard orchestral version of Charles Ives' General William Booth Enters Into Heaven.

His recordings include Opera Encores for CBC Records, with selections ranging from Gounod to Wagner, and To A Poet, a collection of music by contemporary composers Finzi, Britten, Chanler, Butterworth and Ireland, based on the poetry of Walter de la Mare, A.E. Housman, and Thomas Hardy. On the latter recording, he is accompanied by pianist Iain Burnside.

During the current and coming seasons Mr. Polegato will appear as Enrico in Haydn's L'Isola Disabitata and Guglielmo in Mozart's Così Fan Tutte. Also scheduled is a performance with the Amici Trio of a chamber work written for him by Malcolm Forsythe, which sets to music the works of various poets, including Dylan Thomas. He is soon to make his company debut with Munich's Bavarian State Opera in the role of Momus in Rameau's Platée.

Mr. Polegato graduated from the Music Performance Program of the University of Toronto, where he won the Eaton Graduating Scholarship. He later studied at the University of Toronto Opera School under Patricia Kern.




Stuart Howe

STUART HOWE - tenor

Tenor Stuart Howe has appeared on stage throughout Europe, Canada and the United States of America. Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, he made his critically acclaimed European debut in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore in Oporto, Portugal, where the European press acclaimed him "the quintessential Nemorino". He went on to sing extensively throughout Europe, before returning to North America for his first performance of Rodolfo in Puccini's La Bohème.

Mr. Howe's repertoire also includes Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, the Duke in Rigoletto, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, Ernesto in Don Pasquale, Jenik in The Bartered Bride, Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus and Fadinard in Nino Rota's The Italian Straw Hat. Known internationally as a creator of new operatic roles, Mr. Howe created the lead role of Tom Wade for the world premiere of Robert Ward's Lady Kate and of John Higgs for Pacific Opera Victoria's world premier of Erewhon, by Canadian composer Lou Applebaum. Upcoming engagements include Cavaradossi in Puccini's Tosca, and Nichol in the world premiere of Chan Ka Nin's The Iron Road.

Mr. Howe's oratorio credits include Haydn's The Seasons, Handel's The Messiah, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, Bach's Magnificat, St. Mathew Passion and Cantata 29, and Bruckner's Te Deum.

Mr. Howe's natural tenor voice was discovered by George Cotton during a chance audition for a play. Mr. Cotton, who was serving as artistic director for a production of Johan Strauss Jr.'s Die Fledermaus!, gave a leading role to Mr. Howe, who was at that time pursuing a career as a radio broadcaster. He went on to study voice, drama and dance in the theatre arts program at Grant MacEwan College in Emonton before moving to the United States. He earned a Performance Diploma from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Richard Miller and, later, a Graduate Diploma in Opera at Boston's New England Conservatory of Music.




Bijan Khadem-Missagh

BIJAN KHADEM-MISSAGH - violinist

Bijan Khadem-Missagh is an award-winning violinist and conductor who has toured internationally, made many radio and television recordings, and compiled a substantial discography. His book Das Musische als Lebensweise was published in 1998.

After graduating with distinction from the Academy of Music in Vienna, he founded the Eurasia Quartet and was the Grand Prix and first prize winner at the International Chamber Music Festival in Colmar, France, in 1971. That same year he was appointed First Concertmaster of the NTO Symphony Orchestra Vienna and subsequently became a professor at the J.M. Hauer Conservatory in Austria. He founded the Tonkünstler Chamber Orchestra Vienna (1977); Allegro Vivo, the International Chamber Music Festival Austria (1979); and the Midsummer Music Academy Umeå, Sweden (1980 -1990), serving as artistic director of the latter two.

International contemporary composers K.H. Fuessl, L. Thoresen, K. Rapf, K. Etti, A. Rahbari, A. Baksa, A. Vujic, L. Schmetterer, and R. Stiegler have all dedicated works to him, and Mr. Khadem-Missagh has himself composed instrumental and vocal works.

He has received many awards, including the Austrian Cross for Sciences and Arts, and is president of GLOBArt, a non-governmental organization dedicated to the promotion of peace and the transformation of human society through the arts.




The Transylvania State Philharmonic Choir

THE TRANSYLVANIA STATE PHILHARMONIC CHOIR

The Transylvania State Philharmonic Choir of Cluj was founded in 1972 by composer Sigismund Toduţă, then the artistic director of the philharmonic. The choir's first conductor was Professor Dorin Pop, a well-known personality in choral music in Romania. In 1976, Florentin Mihăescu, the assistant of Maestro Pop, assumed the directorship, broadening the choir's repertoire and achieving its first international successes; he was followed in 1986 by Cornel Groza. Main emphases of the ensemble are its vocal-symphonic repertoire, a cappella music, and Romanian works.

The choir has collaborated with Romanian and foreign conductors such as Gary Bertini, János Ferencsik, Lawrence Foster, Michi Inoue, Leopold Hager, Maurice Handford, Emil Simon, Edward Tschiwjel, Cristian Mandeal, Lászlo Heltai, Donato Renzetti, Lü Jia, and Klaus Peter Flor, as well as with the Israel Philharmonic, the Zürich Tonhalle, and the Luxembourg RTL orchestras, Philharmonie Lorraine, "George Enescu" Philharmonic Bucharest, and Orchestra Internazionale dell'Italia. It has performed at major festivals in Romania and in Berlin, Lucerne, Ravello, Pesaro, Macerata, Napoli, Luxembourg, Assisi, Amsterdam, Geneva, and Athens.

The choir's performances have been broadcast on radio and television. Its latest CD is of works by Brahms with the Bucharest Philharmonic under Cristian Mandeal.




The Israel Northern Symphony (Haifa Symphony Orchestra)

THE ISRAEL NORTHERN SYMPHONY (Haifa Symphony Orchestra)

The Israel Northern Symphony, Haifa, was founded in 1950 by pianist-composer Frank Peleg. Today it has 75 musicians and is the focus of musical life in Haifa and northern Israel, attracting audiences of 100,000 to its annual season of 100 concerts.

Former music directors include Sergiu Commissiona, Avi Ostrovki, Mendi Rodan, Yuval Zaliouk, Dan Vogel, and Urs Schneider, and Stanley Sperber. The present music director is Cristian Mandeal, formerly general music director of the Romanian Philharmonic Orchestra.

The orchestra has toured in France, Switzerland, Belgium, West Germany, and Italy and has appeared at international festivals in Corsica, Besançon, Liège, Düsseldorf, and Cremona.

Guest conductors and soloists with the orchestra have included Sergiu Commissiona, Sidney Harth, Yoel Levy, John Nelson, Mendi Rodan, Gilbert Varga, and Ronald Zollman, Henryk Szeryng, Ida Haendel, Boris Belkin, Ivry Gitlis, Shira Rabin, Peter Zazovsky, Mischa Malsky, Boris Berman, Claude Frank, Peter Frankl, Gerhard Oppitz, Nicolai Petrov, Arie Vardi, Gary Karr, and Pieter Wispelwey.

For guided tours contact: Reservation Centre
Bahá'í World Centre • P. O. Box 155 • 31001 Haifa, Israel
Tel: 972 (4) 831-3131 • Fax: 972 (4) 831-3132
Email: tours@bwc.org

For further information contact: Office of Public Information
Bahá'í World Centre • P. O. Box 155 • 31001 Haifa, Israel
Tel: 972 (4) 835-8394 • Fax: 972 (4) 831-3312
Email: opi@bwc.org

Copyright 2007, Bahá'í International Community