Daily Music Post

Today's music comes from Kati Agócs, a composer on faculty at NEC. Here's "Supernatural Love" performed by Duo Concertante.


Here's some excerpts of reviews of this work:

"The music speaks of loss and redemption...The moods vary throughout the movements. The first is spectral, wounded, desolate, and cold. The second is open, warm, rhapsodic and elegant. The third is emancipated, explosive, monolithic, nattering frantically like music from a charnel ground. Vivid and strong work."-SHOWTIME.CA, Review of Duo Concertante, Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, August 2008 (Stanley Fefferman)

"Melting, ice-like, high-register piano notes open Kati Agócs's Supernatural Love, followed by beams of sunlight in the violin. A slowly evolving urgency characterizes the next movement. The third movement begins with racing chords on the piano, echoed by counterpoint in the violin. The duet takes on a masculine-feminine argument, along with simultaneous pizzicato violin with percussive single-note piano. The overall effect is serene and unworldly, exploring space with sound in away that seems to evoke the time before the universe hosted life."
-FANFARE MAGAZINE, Review of CD 'Boston Diary' by Ibis Camerata, July/August 2010

"Supernatural Love began with silent, haunting keys accompanied by sad strokes on the violin. The strokes of sorrow tied together as the piano chimed. Nancy Dahn used her violin to amplify an inner, womanly call, gradually slowing the music to a still point. Then, the composer created a music of “empty sound.” It was an extraordinary moment, showing emptiness, or loss, as a triumph over sorrow, clearing away an obstruction to life. There lies the Supernatural Love.”
-THE VERNON MORNING SUN, Review of Duo Concertante, North Okanagan Concert Association, Vernon, British Columbia, 20 April 2008

About the composer:

Performed by leading musicians and ensembles across the globe, the music of Kati Agócs merges lapidary rigor with sensuous lyricism. The New York Times has characterized her chamber music as "striking", her orchestral music as "filled with attractive ideas", and her vocal music as possessing "an almost 19th-century naturalness," while The Boston Globe has described it as "music of fluidity and austere beauty."  Fanfare magazine hailed her violin-piano duet Supernatural Love as "serene and unworldly, exploring space with sound in a way that seems to evoke the time before the universe hosted life." A citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters praised the "melody, drama, and clear design" of her music, citing its "soulful directness"  and "naturalness of dissonance." " Born in 1975 in Windsor, Canada, of Hungarian and American background, Kati Agócs is a 2013 Composition Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She been a full-time member of the composition faculty of the New England Conservatory in Boston since 2008.

Current commissions include a work for the Boston Symphony Chamber Players for their Fiftieth Anniversary; a large-scale work for Boston Modern Orchestra Project commissioned by the Jebediah Foundation as the final work on a CD of her orchestral works on the BMOP/Sound label; a work for two sopranos and percussion, commissioned by the Canada Council for the Arts; Crystallography, commissioned by Standing Wave Ensemble in Vancouver; and Saint Elizabeth Bells, a cello-cimbalom duet commissioned by cellist Andre Emelianoff.  Her orchestral works have been programmed by many orchestras across Canada and the U.S. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra recently gave two performances of Shenanigan,  commissioned in 2011 by James Sommerville for the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Hamilton, Ontario. The Toronto Star called Shenanigan "a whirl of symphonic fun....a burst of party energy", while Musical Toronto called it "a fun, accessible piece that shows off a symphony orchestra's full breadth, and deserves to be heard again." Her Perpetual Summer in a new revised version was a winner of the Minnesota Orchestra's 2012 Composer Institute competition.

Recent orchestral commissions include Vessel for Metropolis Ensemble, commissioned by Meet the Composer for their 2011 Three-City Dash Festival at Symphony Space in New York; Elysium for the National Arts Centre's Cultural Olympiad in Vancouver, Perpetual Summer for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada's 50th Anniversary, Requiem Fragments for the CBC Radio Orchestra; Pearls for the American Composers Orchestra, and By the Streams of Babylon for the Albany Symphony Orchestra. Recent chamber music commissions include I and Thou for the Chamber Ensemble of the Orchestra of St. Luke's (New York), Immutable Dreams for the Da Capo Chamber Players (New York), Division of Heaven and Earth for pianist Fredrik Ullén (Stockholm, Sweden), Supernatural Love for Duo Concertante (St. John's, Newfoundand), and As Biddeth Thy Tongue for saxophonist Timothy McAllister.

Kati Agócs was Composer-in Residence with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada for their Fiftieth Anniversary Season in 2010, and with the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, through the 'Music Alive: New Partnerships' program of Meet the Composer and the League of American Orchestras. The Grammy-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird toured across the U.S. with her quintet Immutable Dreams. More than eight different ensembles have performed the work since its 2007 premiere, including the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York, Xanthos Ensemble in Boston, Lontano in London,U.K., and Vancouver’s Standing Wave. Agócs was a Composer-in-Residence at the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival in 2009, and performed as soprano soloist in her own Awakening Galatea both there and on the New England Conservatory's 'First Monday' series. She also sang in her own By the Streams of Babylon, together with soprano Lisa Bielawa and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project with Gil Rose conducting. Time Out New York featured the premiere recording of Every Lover is a Warrior, on harpist Bridget Kibbey's debut CD, Love is Come Again, as one of its top ten recordings of 2007, describing the work as "a powerful, ruminative suite" and Agócs as an "innovative" and "promising" composer.

Awards include the 2013 Composition Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, an inaugural 2009 Brother Thomas Fellowship from the Boston Foundation, a 2008 Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the ASCAP Leonard Bernstein Fellowship at the Tanglewood Music Center in 2007, multiple commissioning grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, a Fulbright Fellowship to the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest, Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, a New York Foundation for the Arts Composition fellowship, a Jerome Foundation commission, Presser Foundation Award, and honors from ASCAP in their Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. Perpetual Summer was the runner-up for ASCAP's Rudolph Nissim Prize for 2011, one of only two works selected by a jury of conductors out of over 260 anonymously-submitted new orchestral scores. (The work has since been revised, with the revised version yet to be premiered). Fellowships and residencies include the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival (Yale Summer School of Music), The Aspen Music Festival, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Dartington International Music Festival (U.K.), and the Virginia Arts Festival. She has written on recent American music for Tempo, and wrote a candid inside glimpse into the new-music scene in Hungary for The Musical Times in 2005. She had previously spearheaded an exchange program between Juilliard and the Liszt Academy in Budapest. As a result of these activities, the progressive Vienna-based Hungarian publication Bécsi Napló credited her with raising the visibility of Hungarian composers abroad.

Kati Agócs earned the Doctor of Musical Arts and Masters degrees in Composition from The Juilliard School, where her principal teacher was Milton Babbitt. She is also an alumna of the Aspen Music School, Tanglewood Music Festival, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (one of the United World Colleges, where she represented the province of Ontario), and Sarah Lawrence College, all of which she attended on full scholarship. From 2006 through 2008 she taught at the School of Music, Memorial University of Newfoundland. She maintains a work studio in the village of Flatrock, near St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.