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Danish Composer Jesper Koch To Visit Meadows for Jesper Koch Mini-Festival, Dec. 6-8

Meadows Symphony, faculty, students, alumni and guests to perform Koch’s works, including two world premieres

Noted Danish composer Jesper Koch will visit SMU Meadows Dec. 6-8 as part of a Jesper Koch Mini-Festival organized by Paul Phillips, conductor of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra. On December 6 & 8, the MSO will perform the world premiere of Koch’s Solitary Places, composed especially for the MSO and inspired by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem Julian and Maddalo: A Conversation. Shelley is said to have based his poem on conversations he had with Lord Byron in Venice in 1818, in which they explored their different outlooks on life.

On Saturday, December 7, Meadows will present a Jesper Koch Chamber Music Recital featuring the composer and Meadows faculty, students, alumni and guests performing a variety of his works. The concert will showcase the world premiere of Tombstones, Six Epitaphs from Spoon River, with soprano Alissa Roca (M.M. ’16, Performer’s Diploma ’18) and Koch on piano. Two works inspired by Alice in Wonderland will also be featured. The first is Down the Rabbit-Hole for woodwind quintet, featuring student performers Sophia Lee (flute), Ivy Carpenter (oboe), Samu Jarvela (clarinet), Nicolas Farmer (horn) and Miranda Macias (bassoon). The second is Dreamchild, performed by Meadows faculty member and Dallas Symphony violist Barbara Sudweeks, faculty member and Dallas Winds harpist Naoko Nakamura and guest flutist Helen Blackburn of Voices of Change. In addition, the Julius Quartet, Meadows’ Peak Fellowship Ensemble-in-Residence, will perform Koch’s String Quartet No. 3, “Schöne Welt, wo bist du?” Also on the program is Images of Lorca, a solo piano piece influenced by the work of famed Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, to be performed by faculty member and award-winning Russian pianist Liudmila Georgievskaya.

“The MSO first performed a work of Jesper Koch two years ago, and he was able to come to Dallas for the concert,” said Dr. Phillips. “We were very impressed with his composition and, happily, he was quite taken with our performance. We are delighted to have him back with us, and very honored to be premiering two of his new works during our weekend of concerts in December.”

“I’m delighted, and privileged, to be back at SMU to work with some of my favorite people!” said Koch. “Writing new works for Paul and Alissa has brought me so much joy. I’m looking forward to 10 days of pure and meaningful fun.” 

What-Where-When

Dec. 6 & 8: The Meadows Symphony concerts will be held Friday, December 6 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 8 at 2:30 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium in the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. The MSO program will also include Wagner’s Prelude to Parsifal and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7.

Dec. 7: The Jesper Koch Chamber Music Recital takes place Saturday, December 7 at 7:30 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium. 

Tickets to each concert are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and $8 for faculty, staff and students. For tickets and additional information, call the Meadows box office at 214.768.2787 or visit https://www.smu.edu/Meadows/NewsAndEvents/Calendar.

About Jesper Koch

Jesper Koch’s music has been described as “modernism with atmospheric images.” It combines imaginative storytelling and humorous elements with rigorous aesthetics and a sure sense of form and structure, and often takes inspiration from well-known stories and poems. A performance at the Fifth Danish Composers’ Biennial of his tone poem Alice Under Skies from 1998 was accorded the praise that one could almost hear little rabbits hopping across the meadow! The work was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and was premiered by Collegium Musicum and Owain Arwel Hughes.

Koch began composing when he was 11 years old. He attended the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen, where he studied composition with Ib Nørholm, Hans Abrahamsen and Ivar Frounberg. He has also studied with, among others Andy Pape, Karl Aage Rasmussen, Olav Anton Thommesen and Colin Mathews. In 1992 his work Ice-Breaking for two accordions and percussion won First Prize at the International Rostrum of Composers forum in Paris in the composers-under-30 category. Other honors include a Carl Nielsen grant for composers and a three-year grant from the National Arts Foundation.

Koch’s debut concert at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus in 1997 demonstrated the broad palette with which he paints: Images of Lorca for piano solo, Dreamchild for flute, viola and harp, Down the Rabbit-Hole for wind quintet, Three portraits with shadows for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble set to texts by Lorca, and last but not least, Jabberwocky for solo accordion, one of Koch’s favorite instruments. 

Since his debut Koch has composed numerous works, commissioned by such organizations as the Odense Symphony Orchestra, Collegium Musicum Copenhagen and, most recently, the Aalborg Symphony Orchestra. In 2001 he was appointed composer-in-residence for the South Jutland Symphony Orchestra in Denmark. Several of Koch’s chamber works have been released on the Kontrapunkt label under the title Jesper Koch, Chamber Music 1.

Besides the Nordic countries, Jesper Koch’s music has been performed in Austria, Holland, Canada and France. Danish composer and professor Jan Maegaard said of Koch’s music, “With its deep fundamental tone and its vocal and instrumental articulation, the work extends beyond the concept of Danish music, and has a wide international horizon.”

Read more about the SMU Meadows Division of Music; Dr. Paul Phillips, the Martha Raley Peak Centennial Chair and Director of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra; and the Meadows Symphony Orchestra.

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