Michael Daugherty at 50

Michael Daugherty at 50

Michael Daugherty is one of the most performed US composers of his generation. On 28 April he celebrated his 50th birthday.

This coincided with the release in May, by Naxos Records, of the premiere recording of Daugherty’s U.F.O. for solo percussion and orchestra. The inimitable soloist is Evelyn Glennie, for whom the work was written – and who has performed the work many times. She is accompanied by Marin Alsop and the Colorado SO. Also, on the disc is the first recording of the three-movement Philadelphia Stories, Daugherty’s third symphony, commissioned and premiered by The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Another Daugherty concerto has been released on CD. His Spaghetti Western for cor anglais must be surely one of the most outrageous and evocative concertos ever written for cor anglais. It has been released on the Equilibrium (USA) label with soloist Harold Smoliar (principal of the Pittsburgh SO who commissioned the work), the University of Michigan SO and Kenneth Kiesler:

The composer was inspired in writing his English horn concerto by the Italian films that made Clint Eastwood a star, such as "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly." Daugherty creates his own vivid scenes out of the Old West in each of the movements: "Empty Streets," "The Phantom Stagecoach" and "Noon of Fire."

… Smoliar plays Eastwood's role as the "Man With No Name," giving as remarkable a performance on the recording – with stunning tone and technique including pitch bending – as he did in concert… there is no denying that the fun of Daugherty's music is impressively realized…’
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Mark Kanny), 29 November 2003

Venezuelan choreographer Javier de Frutos is becoming somewhat of an expert at choreographing Daugherty’s music. He currently is planning his fourth such venture, to be premiered by Gothenburg Ballet in September 2004.  For this project he has selected three of Daugherty’s string quartets for quartet and electronics: Elvis Everywhere, Paul Robeson Told Me and Sing, Sing: J Edgar Hoover. All will be performed by live musicians. It promises to be quite an event.

Meanwhile, de Frutos’s award-winning choreography of Daugherty’s outrageous piano concerto, Le Tombeau de Liberace, continues to travel. The ballet, originally premiered in 2000 under the title ‘The Celebrated Soubrette’ by Rambert Dance Company, has now been taken up by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and toured New Zealand between 25 February and 21 March this year. RNZB tour it to the San Francisco Festival in 2005.

De Frutos has now completed three ballets to music by Daugherty (‘Mazatlan’ – Javier de Frutos Dance Co; ‘The Misty Frontier’ – The Royal Ballet and ‘The Celebrated Soubrette’), with the fourth being scheduled for Gothenburg.

 

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