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Yvar Mikhashoff and John Cage

Yvar Mikhashoff and John Cage

Remembering Yvar (1941-1993): A Piano Marathon

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Burchfield Penney Art Center will celebrate five years in the Gwathmey Siegel-designed museum which opened in November 2008 with a series of special events. Fifth: A four-day festival from November 7-10 includes screenings, tours, workshops, concerts and performances. The Center will pay special tribute the late virtuoso pianist and composer Yvar Emilian Mikhashoff with Remembering Yvar (1941-1993): A Piano Marathon Saturday, November 9, 4:00 pm to 10 pm. The six-hour marathon will feature his music played by his friends, colleagues and former students including, Winston Choi, Anthony de Mare, Eric Huebner, Haydee Schvartz, Aki Takahashi and Amy Williams.

“This piano marathon demonstrates the magnitude of Yvar’s strength as a player. We are presenting six pianists to do what he did alone,” said Don Metz, Burchfield Penney associate director. “He was a bear of a man that throughout his career demonstrated an ability to continuously play and push himself to new levels.”

Born in Troy, New York in 1941, Mikhashoff he studied at the Eastman School of Music, Juilliard School, and University of Houston, and received his doctorate in composition from the University of Texas in 1972. He also studied in France with Nadia Boulanger. Mikhashoff served as professor of music at the University at Buffalo from 1973 until his death in 1993. From 1983 to 1991 he commissioned no fewer than 127 tangos for solo piano from 127 composers.

“To know Yvar Mikhashoff for five minutes or a lifetime was to enter a force field of vitality and exuberance one seldom experiences,” said composer and pianist Nils Vigeland who studied under him at University at Buffalo. Since 1984 Vigeland has taught at Manhattan School of Music, becoming the chair of the composition department in 1998. “Yvar was a wonderful teacher, encouraging each student to play the music they loved. He was very precise in lessons, writing fingerings and commentary in the scores and often illustrating the sound concept by playing himself a passage in question. He was both a simple and complex person-simple in that he responded immediately to anything or anyone he found attractive or interesting and complex in that these responses resulted in a life almost too full of variety. Yet for those who knew him well there was a sweetness, a gentleness and generosity always present.”

In 1996 the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music was established to support composers and performers of new music. Past notable recipients include: The Barton Workshop, New Music Consort, North/South Consonance, Nick Fortunato, and Daniel N. Seel.

“Yvar was a formidable force in the realm of contemporary new music,” says percussionist and conductor Jan Williams who says he was also very well known for presenting piano marathons around the world. A retired University at Buffalo professor, Williams also serves as Trustee of the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music. “This marathon marks a 20-year milestone since his death and we wanted to reflect on what he used to do and remember him for these types of presentations. Some of the finest interpreters of contemporary music internationally that worked with Yvar are coming to the Burchfield Penney to perform.”

4 pm: American Music #1

Charles IVES The Alcotts (1915)
Henry COWELL Amiable Conversation (1917)
Advertisement (1917)
George ANTHEIL Shimmy (1923)
Jazz Sonata (1922)
Aaron COPLAND Four Piano Blues (1926-48)
Henry BRANT Music for a Five and Dime (1932)
Frank ZAPPA Piano Introduction (1970)
Nils VIGELAND Merrily We Roll Along (2012)
Frederic RZEWSKI Kreutzer Sonata (1996)
Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues (1978)
Anthony de Mare, piano

5 pm: Compositional Legacy

Eric WUBBELS Psychomechanochronometer (2013), Eric Huebner, piano
(winners of the fifth annual Pianist/Composer Commissioning Project of the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music)

Yvar MIKHASHOFF Elemental Figures (1987-1990)

1. Diviner
2. Shaman
3. Sybil

Winston Choi, piano

6pm: American Music #2

Alvin CURRAN For Cornelius (1982)
Haydee Schvartz, piano
John CAGE Suite for Toy Piano (1948)
Lukas FOSS Solo (1981)

Amy WILLIAMS Falling (2012)

Frederic RZEWSKI Piano Piece No. 4 (1977)
Amy Williams, piano

7pm: Opera Transcriptions

Giacomo PUCCINI Vissi d'arte
Haydee Schvartz, piano
Vincenzo BELLINI Casta Diva

Aki Takahashi, piano

Giacomo PUCCINI O Mio Babbino Caro (arr. 1991)
Anthony de Mare, piano

Giacomo PUCCINI Portrait of Madame Butterfly
Winston Choi, piano

*all works arranged by Yvar Mikhashoff

8pm: American Music #3

Charles IVES Hawthorne from the Concord Sonata (1915)
Winston Choi, piano

Henry COWELL The Banshee (1925)
Ruth CRAWFORD Prelude No. 6 (1928)
Conlon NANCARROW Blues (1932)
John CAGE In a landscape (1948)
Morton FELDMAN Intermission 5 (1952)
Lou HARRISON A Waltz for Evelyn Hinrichsen (1977)
Joseph FENNIMORE Titles Waltz: After Max Steiner (1977)
Virgil THOMSON For a Happy Occasion (1951)

Aki Takahashi, piano

9pm: Tangos

Ivana LOUDOVA Tango Music* (1984)
Michael SAHL Exiles' Cafe Tango*
Anthony de Mare, piano

Gerardo GANDINI Viernes Santo y Iluvioso (2002)

John CAGE Perpetual Tango (1984)*

(realization by Erik Oña, Maria Cecilia Villanueva, Mariano Etkin, Manuel Juarez and Gabriel Valverde)

Jackson HILL Tango No Tango* (1985)

Lukas FOSS Curriculum Vitae Tango*

Jorge HORST Barro Sublevado (2003)

William SCHIMMEL Fromage Dangereux*

Gabriel VALVERDE Las Orillas del mundo (2002)

Haydee Schvartz, piano

James SELLARS Tango in Memoriam Schoenberg*

Jo KONDO Tango Mnemonic* (1984)

Akira NISHIMURA Tango (1998)

Aki Takahashi, piano

Dane RUDHYAR Tango D’antan (1915)

Conlon NANCARROW Tango?* (1983)

Nils VIGELAND Tango à deux* (1984)

Bob BERKMAN Thorn-Torn Lips*

Amy Williams, piano

*written for Yvar Mikhashoff

About Yvar-Emilian Mikhashoff

Yvar-Emilian Mikhashoff was born Ronald MacKay in Troy near Albany, New York in 1941. He began piano studies with Betty Weir and Stanley Hummel in Albany. At the Eastman School of Music in 1959, he first took a major in composition and cello, then changed to piano studies with Armand Basile. In the 1961 academic year, he studied piano at the Juilliard School in New York City. He also had a career as a ballroom dancer from 1962-1965.

In 1964 Mikhashoff entered the University of Houston for studies in piano with Albert Hirsh. He earned a B.M. in 1967 and continued with graduate study in composition with Elmer Schoettle and obtained his M.M in 1968. It was during this period that MacKay adopted his grandfather's name, Mikhashoff.

Receiving a Fulbright scholarship, Mikhashoff studied the music of the French Impressionists with Nadia Boulanger. After his return to the United States, Mikhashoff entered the University of Texas at Austin as a doctoral candidate in composition and studied with Hunter Johnson, Kent Kennan, Janet McGaughey and Karl Korte. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree with a major in composition and a minor in

literature in August 1973 and founded the Cambiata Soloists ensemble. In the Fall of 1973 Mikhashoff was appointed Assistant Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Based in Buffalo until his death in 1993, Mikhashoff had an international performing career which led him to promote new music and American music around the world.

In addition to organizing many festivals and broadcasts throughout the world, Mikhashoff was one of the founders of the North American New Music Festival and its director for 11 years. He commissioned works from such notable composers as John Cage, Lukas Foss, Otto Luening, Poul Ruders, James Sellars, Christian Wolff, and many others; he edited some works of Henry Cowell, Lejaren Hiller, Conlon Nancarrow, and Virgil Thomson. He recorded on the New Albion, Mode, RCA Victor, CRI, and Spectrum record labels. His composition,Dances for Davia, has been published by the Southern Music Company.

Yvar Mikhashoff's support of contemporary music continues today through the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music which was created by his estate to support composers and performers of new music.