Cygnus Ensemble Presents
Samuel Beckett
Laura Schwendinger composer
September 16 (3pm matinee), 21, & 22 ---Responding to Footfalls
Laura Schwendinger photo

Laura Elise Schwendinger's setting of in Just- spring has been performed on tour by Dawn Upshaw and Gilbert Kalish, at venues including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, the National Arts Center in Canada and at the Tanglewood and Ojai Music Festivals and was recently released on a Naxos TDK/DVD, Voices of Our Time, with Ms. Upshaw from the Theatre du Chatelet-Paris. Upcoming projects include new works for the Corigliano String Quartet, William Anderson and the Cygnus Ensemble and Sole Nero with Anthony Di Sanza and Jessica Johnson. Upcoming performances include those by the Orion Ensemble in Chicago (March 2009), the Left Bank Concert Society at the Kennedy Center (12/08), The American Modern Ensemble (8/08) at the Times Center in NYC, and the Aspen Chamber Ensemble.

Her Pocket Concerto: Chiaroscuro Azzurro for violinist Jennifer Koh and commissioned by Miller Theater of Columbia University (3/27/07) was reviewed by A. Kozinn in the New York Times:
Ms. Schwendinger's work also lives in (at least) two worlds. The violin writing, played with equal measures of energy and velvety richness by Jennifer Koh, is sometimes assertive and rhythmically sharp-edged, but those moments virtually always resolve into a sweetly singing line. The grittier orchestral writing offsets that sweetness without overwhelming it. This is a work that seems likely to blossom with repeated listening.

Other recent premieres and performances of her music include a cello concerto Esprimere, for Matt Haimovitz and the University of Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra (3/28/07), Lady Lazarus by mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley and CUBE, Aerialist by Christina Jennings at Symphony Space in New York (11/30/06), 2 little whos for the violin and guitar ensemble Duo 46 (10/3/06), Respiro for violist Sally Chisholm (of the ProArte String Quartet) and pianist Christopher Taylor (3/06), Elements for Anthony Di Sanza and his Western Percussion Ensemble, Ce La Luna Questa Sera? for the Lincoln Trio (5/06), Basso-Non Profundo for bassist David Murray (11/06), and the premiere of Lady Lazarus, on the opening concert of the 2005/2006 Blueprint Series at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (10/05), commissioned by Nicole Paiement with the Ensemble Parallele, featuring Canadian mezzo-soprano Patricia Green, and High Wire Act for 2001 Concert Artist Guild winner Christina Jennings and the BrightMusic ensemble (11/05), which received a standing ovation at its premiere. Performances of her music also include the premiere of her String Quartet by the Arditti Quartet (1/03) as part of the great quartet series at MIT (A Harvard Musical Association commission), Celestial City (a Koussevitzky Foundation commission) featuring the dynamic young recording artist Janine Jansen with Spectrum Concerts of Berlin at the Berlin Philharmonie Kammermusiksaal (1/03), Fable by Collage New Music at Harvard University (2/03), Magic Carpet Music by Dinosaur Annex in Boston (5/03) and the piano version with Jenny Lin on a WFMT Radio broadcast, Dame Myra Hess Concert (4/03) and Galapagos Art Space (NY), Rapture, by Jens Peter- Maintz, on a Deutsches Symphonie Orchestra Berlin, Akademie-konzerte(4/03), Buenos Aires by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (8/03), Lontano for Chicago's CUBE ensemble (3/04) and Nonet (a Fromm Foundation Commission), for the Chicago Chamber Musicians, premiered on live from WFMT radio (8/04), New 2 little whos by German duo Ahlert & Schwab with the Chicago Composer's Consortium (5/05). Her Songs of Heaven and Earth, and Magic Carpet Music commissioned by the Theater Chamber Players, were premiered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

In addition, her music has been performed by the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra of Hungary, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the New York Camerata, ALEA III, the New England String Ensemble, the New Millennium Ensemble, the Northwestern University New Music Ensemble, Vancouver New Music, and the Washington Square Contemporary Music Society (Merkin Hall, NY). In June 2005, she was composer in residence at Chamber Music Quad Cities (Greg Sauer, Director) in Davenport, Iowa and in April of 2001, the "Music For A While" series at the Music Institute of Chicago, presented an entire concert of her works.

Her music has been reviewed by the nation's leading newspapers. Her music has been called " of considerable power "by Robert Commanday in the San Francisco Chronicle, as "fanciful" by Anthony Tomassini of the New York Times, as having "an impressive luster and transparency", poignant...and "revel(ing) in sinewy counterpoint"... in the Washington Post, as "delectable" and "especially captivating" in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Richard Buell of the Boston Globe wrote "This was shrewd composing, the genuine article. Onto the season's best list it goes", "an unmistakable lyric intensity...a fine piece...worthy of the Arditti's attention", and " Schwendinger's Magic Carpet Music like the composer's other music, rejoices in edge and has a force that has its way...Here is a composer with distinct voice." Mark Kanny of the Pittsburgh Tribune wrote "The absence of any visual entertainment for Schwendinger's Buenos Aires focused attention on the musical excellence of her hard- driving quartet for flute, bass clarinet, violin and cello. She creates fresh and compelling lines that are brought together to a powerful climax." This last April, Stephen Brookes wrote in the Washington Post "Different but no less engaging was Laura Schwendinger's "High Wire Act," a charming work inspired by Alexander Calder's circus figures."

Her honors include fellowships and commissions from the Guggenheim Foundation (2008), the Koussevitzky (2001) and Fromm Foundations (1999), the Harvard Musical Association (1999), an American Academy in Berlin Prize Fellowship (1999) (the first composer fellow), a Bunting Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2002/2003), a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1993), an Aaron Copland award from the Copland House (2007), a Jane Adams Wait residency from Yaddo (2005), a Judge's Commendation from the Barlow Endowment (1995), a Norton Stevens and North Shore fellowship from the MacDowell Colony (1994), two Meet the Composer Grants(1997,1998), an American Composers Forum Grant and First Prize of the 1995 ALEA III International Composition Competition (the first American winner in over a decade), an Illinois Arts Council grant, and grants from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, including the Romnes named Professorship and an Emily Mead Baldwin- Bascom Professorship in the Creative Arts (2006) and grants from the University of Illinois (1999,2000) for the creation of a concert work and recording project with the Chicago Chamber Musicians. In 2005, her Nonet was nominated for the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award by the Chicago Chamber Musicians. She has had residencies at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center (1997), the American Academy in Berlin (1999), the Bogliasco Foundation's Liguria Center (2002), MacDowell (7 times), Yaddo (3 times), the Millay Colony, Atlantic Center for the Arts (3 times), the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Ireland (3), and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (4 times). She has been invited to present her music to composition seminars both nationally and internationally, including those at Harvard University (2003), Northwestern University (1999,2004), the University of Chicago (1999), the University of California at Berkeley (2005), the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (2005), Oklahoma University (2005), Roosevelt and Columbia Colleges (1998) and the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin (2005), Ireland's foremost music education institution.

Ms. Schwendinger is an Associate Prof. of Composition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is also the Artistic Director of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley, where she studied with Andrew Imbrie, Olly Wilson and John Thow. She has also been an Associate Prof. of Composition and Theory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a lecturer at the Music Department of the University of California, Santa Cruz, Smith College and on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music-Preparatory Division, where she started a program for young composers. Her Chamber Concerto, reviewed in the American Record Guide as "melodic and atmospheric", is on the CD Grand Designs from the Society of Composer's records series on Capstone records. An entire CD of her chamber works will be released on the Centaur label next year.