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April 24, 2013

Kronos Quartet Announces Under 30 Project / #5 Composer, Mary Kouyoumdjian

The Kronos Quartet / Kronos Performing Arts Association is pleased to announce the recipient of the fifth Kronos: Under 30 Project commission: Mary Kouyoumdjian. A New York City resident, Kouyoumdjian was chosen from a call for composers that yielded nearly 400 applicants in 43 countries on five continents, the largest response in the program’s history. Launched in 2003, the Under 30 Project is designed to help nurture the careers of young artists, while enabling Kronos to forge stronger connections with the next creative generation.

Mary Kouyoumdjian

As the composer chosen for Under 30 / #5, Kouyoumdjian will be commissioned to write a new work for Kronos. She will meet with the group in early May during their New York visit to perform at Zankel Hall, and will be in residence this fall at the Lucas Artists Residency Program at the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California, where she will work in close consultation with Kronos. The resulting composition will premiere in Spring 2014 in San Francisco as part of Kronos’ 40th anniversary season, and will also be recorded.

In conjunction with the announcement of the latest Under 30 commission, Kronos Quartet is releasing a digital-only compilation of the four previous commissions, available starting today on Kronos’ website. Titled Under 30 Project: 1 – 4 and performed by the quartet, the recording includes: Alexandra du Bois, String Quartet No. 1 (2003); Felipe Pérez Santiago, CampoSanto (2004); Dan Visconti, Love Bleeds Radiant (2005); and Aviya Kopelman, Widows & Lovers (2007). Diverse in style, these pieces have all been championed by Kronos in major venues all over the world. For a limited time, the complete album is available for $1.99. 

The latest installment of the Under 30 Project was open to all composers who had not reached the age of 30 by the application deadline. (Kouyoumdjian was 29 at the time; she has since turned 30.) Choosing a recipient from the hundreds of applicants was no simple matter: “What people are writing now is amazing, just thrilling,” says Kronos Quartet’s Artistic Director, David Harrington. “As we narrowed down the field, we were looking for someone who seemed poised to write their breakthrough piece. And every time I came back to Mary’s work, I was magnetized. She’s an exceptional composer, incredibly creative, and her connection to her family’s Armenian history has brought her sensibility into a very beautiful place.” 

Says Kouyoumdjian, “I grew up listening to Kronos Quartet’s recordings, so Kronos already holds a special place in my musical development. I’m thrilled and inspired to be writing for them – aside from their incredible musicianship, their openness to political and world music really excites me, and the fact that this collaboration stems out of my hometown of San Francisco makes for an even more personal connection. For a composer, working with a group like Kronos opens amazingly imaginative possibilities – their music is truly without borders, and that’s how I want my music to be.”

Kronos: Under 30 Project / #5 is supported by Hancher at the University of Iowa, Syracuse University, the Board of Directors of the Kronos Performing Arts Association, and individual backers of the Kronos: Under 30 Project / #5 Kickstarter campaign. Additional support was provided by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Sally and Don Lucas Artists Residency Program at Montalvo Arts Center.

ABOUT MARY KOUYOUMDJIAN

Mary Kouyoumdjian is dedicated to composing music that pushes the boundaries of expectation and musical tradition. As a first-generation Armenian-American, and having come from a family directly affected by the Lebanese Civil War and Armenian Genocide, she uses a sonic palette that draws on her heritage, interest in folk music, and background in experimental composition to progressively blend the old with the new.

With compositions ranging from concert works to multimedia collaborations and film scores, Kouyoumdjian has received commissions from the American Composers Forum/JFund for her piece Dzov Yerku Kooynov [Sea of Two Colors], REDSHIFT for their “Arctic Sounds” series, the Los Angeles New Music Ensemble, Experiments in Opera, and violinist Andie Springer for Dandelion (for Andie Springer). Her chamber and multimedia pieces have been recorded by such performers as internationally acclaimed cellist Charles Curtis and flutist John Fonville, and have been presented by the Boston New Music Initiative and Ear Heart Music. A San Francisco Bay Area native, Kouyoumdjian also actively promotes the growth of new music in California.

Kouyoumdjian has worked as an orchestrator, composer, and music editor for film, television, and advertising. Holding a B. A. in Music Composition from the University of California, San Diego and an M.A. in Scoring for Film and Multimedia from New York University, Kouyoumdjian has studied contemporary composition with Chaya Czernowin, Steven Kazuo Takasugi, and Chinary Ung; new music performance with Steve Schick; and modern jazz with Anthony Davis. She is also a co-founder and the executive director of the NY-based contemporary music ensemble Hotel Elefant.

ABOUT LUCAS ARTISTS RESIDENCY PROGRAM

Lucas Artists Residency Program (LAP) fosters a community of highly motivated, talented, creative and critical minds from a range of disciplines and geographical areas. Residencies are offered in all contemporary artistic disciplines, including the visual arts, design, literary arts, film, choreography, performance art, music and composition, as well as teaching and culinary arts. LAP artists-in-residence enjoy unique access to the resources of the Montalvo Arts Center, enabling them to present their work to Bay Area audiences.  Montalvo’s artist residency is the third oldest in the United States, and the oldest west of the Mississippi. After a temporary closure in 1999 for extensive renovations, the LAP re‐opened in 2004 as one of the largest and most advanced sets of facilities specifically built as an artist residency for an international, multi‐disciplinary program of artists and scholars. The state‐of‐the‐art center consists of ten live/work studios and a commons building designed by six teams of renowned architects and artists, located on 10 acres of land within a 175‐acre park.

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