Professor of Music Theory at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Brian Alegant is Professor of Music Theory at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1996. The recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, he served as the editor of Music Theory Spectrum from 2003 to 2006.
His research interests include the music of the Second Viennese School, Dallapiccola, motivic transformation techniques, and pedagogy. His work on these topics has been published in Computers for Music Research, Music Theory Spectrum, Perspectives of New Music, Journal of Music Theory, Music Analysis, Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, and Intégral. He has also delivered papers at among others, national meetings of the Society for Music Theory, International 19th- and 20th-century music conferences, and various regional conferences.
Prior to joining the Oberlin faculty, he taught at McGill University. He earned a bachelor of music in piano performance from Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts, masters of music degrees in music history and in music theory from Temple University, and a doctorate in music theory from the Eastman School of Music.
He is currently working on a book on Dallapiccola’s twelve-tone music.
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Aaron P. Dworkin
Founder and President of the Sphinx Organization
Named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, Aaron P. Dworkin is the Founder and President of the Sphinx Organization, the leading national arts organization that focuses on youth and minority involvement in classical music. An accomplished electric and acoustic violinist, he received his Bachelors of Music and Masters of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Michigan School of Music, graduating with high honors. He attended the Peabody Institute, the Philadelphia New School and the Interlochen Arts Academy, studying with Vladimir Graffman, Berl Senofsky, Jascha Brodsky, John Eaken, Renata Knific, Donald Hopkins and Stephen Shipps.
In his role as a visionary leader, Mr. Dworkin has led 2 phases of strategic planning with The Sphinx Organization. He also served as the Co-Chair of the Arts and Cultural Education Task Force for the State of Michigan designing the required arts curriculum for Michigan schools and serves as Co-Chair of the Planning Task Force which oversees the strategic merger of ArtServe Michigan (statewide arts advocacy organization) and MACAA (MI Assoc. of Community Arts Agencies). In addition, Dworkin serves on other strategic planning committees including the American Symphony Orchestra League.
A passionate advocate for excellence in music education, Mr. Dworkin has been an invited lecturer on the topic of career development and diversity at universities and orchestras including the University of Michigan, Lawrence University, Central Michigan University, Cleveland Orchestra and others. He has served as a presenter or keynote speaker at many national conferences including the American Symphony Orchestra League, National Association for Schools of Music, National Suzuki Association, National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts, Americans for the Arts, American String Teachers Association, and the National Association for Negro Musicians. Mr. Dworkin served as commencement speaker at the University of Michigan School of Music, Longy Conservatory as well as the Bowling Green State University. He has served as a panelist on various arts committees, including the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the MetLife Awards for Excellence in Community Engagement, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the National Association of Arts Presenters, as well as Chamber Music America. He has served as a Grant Reviewer for the National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Surdna Foundation Arts Teachers Fellowship Program as well as being a member of the University of Michigan School of Music Dean Search Committee.
Mr. Dworkin currently serves on the Board of Directors of Michigan’s highly esteemed University Musical Society, Artserve Michigan, Walnut Hill School, WRCJ 90.9 Detroit Classical and Jazz Radio and the NEW (Non-Profit Enterprise at Work) Center. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of ASTA Alternative Strings Awards, National Association of Arts Presenters, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Rachel Barton Pine Foundation and the Avery Fischer Artist Program.
In recognition of his significant contribution to the classical music field and his strong commitment and vision of excellence in the field, Mr. Dworkin has been the recipient of numerous awards. In addition to being a 2005 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, he is the recipient of the National Governors Association 2005 Distinguished Service to State Government Award, 2003 Michiganian of the Year, University of Michigan School of Music Paul Boylan Award, New Detroit’s 2003 “Closing the Gap” in Youth Development Award, Crain’s Detroit 40 Under 40 and Who’s Who Awards, BET’s History Makers in the Making Award, SBC’s Excellence in Education Award, University of Michigan’s African-American Alumni Council’s 5 Under 10 Award, Detroit Institute of Arts Alaine Locke Award, and Interlochen Arts Academy’s 2003 Path of Inspiration Award.
Mr. Dworkin has produced and recorded two CDs entitled Ebony Rhythm and Bar-Talk, in addition to authoring a poetry collection entitled “They Said I Wasn’t Really Black” and producing and directing the independent film entitled Deliberation. He has also transcribed works for electric strings and developed Electric String 201, a college-level preparatory course in electric string performance. His writings have been featured in various publications, including Symphony Magazine, Polyphonic.org, Andante, an on-line music industry magazine and others. Mr. Dworkin also contributed to the first English edition of Superior Bowing Technique, a treatise by legendary violinist Lucien Capet, adapted and edited by Stephen Shipps and authored the foreword to William Grant Still’s Violin Collection published by WGS Music.
Mr. Dworkin offers a uniquely strong organizational, fundraising and administrative background combined with an unwavering passion for music and its role in society. As Founder and President of The Sphinx Organization, he has built an infrastructure and led fundraising efforts totaling over 14 million dollars overseeing a staff and faculty of more than 40. With over $150,000 in prizes and scholarships awarded annually, the Sphinx Competition showcases the top young minority musicians of the highest artistic caliber and features top professional minority musicians through the all African-American and Latino Sphinx Symphony. The organization also impacts groups underrepresented in classical music through its educational and community programming including the Sphinx Preparatory Music Institute and Sphinx Performance Academy which reach over 35,000 youth each year. Prior to his role with Sphinx, Mr. Dworkin founded and served as Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Bard, a literary magazine with a readership of over 40,000 throughout southeast Michigan as well as serving as General Manager of the highly prestigious violinmaking studio, Alf Studios.
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Jennifer Higdon (b. Brooklyn, New York; December 31, 1962) maintains a full schedule of commissions of half a dozen works a year, and has become a major figure in contemporary American music. She is the recipient of many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pew Fellowship, and two awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Some of her recent commissions include works for the Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras; the Philadelphia Orchestra; violinist Jennifer Koh; and the Tokyo String Quartet. Upcoming projects include a May 2007 premiere by Lang Lang and the National Symphony Orchestra of her new Piano Concerto.
Her works have been recorded on more than two dozen CDs. In 2004 the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra released the Grammy Award-winning Higdon: Concerto for Orchestra/City Scape. A chamber disc of her music will be released in fall 2006 on Naxos, as will a recording with eighth blackbird.
The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra named her composer-of-the-year for its 2005-06 season. The current season will find her in residence with the Green Bay Symphony and at Ithaca College as the Karel Husa Visiting Professor.
Higdon enjoys more than 200 performances a year of her works. Her work blue cathedral is one of the most performed orchestral works by a living composer; 100 orchestras have performed the work since its 2000 premiere.
She teaches composition at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.
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Music Critic & Historian
James M. Keller is Program Annotator of the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony. He also contributes regularly to the program books of leading classical-music organizations in the United States and Europe, serving as Principal Program Annotator for the University of Chicago Presents and the Daniel Saidenberg Faculty Recital Series of The Juilliard School, and contributing frequently to the programs of the Brighton Festival at Glyndebourne and the Edinburgh International Festival.
From 1990-2000 he wrote about music and recordings on staff at The New Yorker. In 1999 he was awarded the prestigious ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for feature writing about music in Chamber Music magazine, of which he serves as Contributing Editor.
He has contributed music-related articles to several books, including the Encyclopedia of New York City (Yale University Press, 1995), American Mavericks (University of California Press, 2001), and the scholarly volumes George Crumb and the Alchemy of Sound (Colorado College Music Press, 2005) and Nouveaux regards sur Vincent d’Indy (Editions Symétrie, Lyon, upcoming in 2007). His criticism and features have appeared often in such publications as Travel & Leisure, Le Monde de la Musique, BBC Music Magazine, Opera News, Historical Performance, and the Sunday New York Times. From 1991-95 he served as Contributing Editor for Criticism to The Piano Quarterly/Piano & Keyboard. He has authored booklet notes for recordings on most of the major classical labels and has been a frequent cultural and arts commentator for National Public Radio.
He has appeared often on the stages of New York’s Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall, San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, and other notable venues as a lecturer and as an interviewer of composers and performers. He has appeared on roundtables at many events focusing on musical scholarship, at the J.P. Morgan Library, Juilliard School, State University of New York (Purchase), Trinity College (Hartford), Colorado College (Colorado Springs), La Jolla SummerFest, and Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, among other venues. In 2003 he created the Insight Concerts series for Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and served as that incentive’s on-stage commentator for its first two seasons.
He has also served as Artistic Adviser to performing arts incentives, including the acclaimed Haydn Festival presented in New York in 1998-99 by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble. He has been music director for numerous theatrical productions and for three years was director of early music at Yale University. His recordings of Renaissance and Baroque repertoire for W.W. Norton’s History of Western Music series have remained in print (on CBS/Sony Special Products) for nearly 30 years. Apart from his work in the music field, he has contributed articles to Bon Appétit Magazine (particularly about herbs and spices) and serves regularly as a juror for the James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards, which honor excellence in writing about food and wine. For many years he was Contributing Editor/Books Columnist for Seaport: New York’s History Magazine.
He was educated at Oberlin College (Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Romance Languages), Oberlin College Conservatory of Music (Bachelor of Music in Music History), Yale University (Master’s of Philosophy in Music History), and New York University Graduate School of Business Administration (Diploma, Careers in Business program); took the Cours de Deuxième Cycle of the U.E.R de Musicologie of the Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne; carried out conservatory studies in oboe, recorder, voice, harpsichord, continuo, and piano; and is a member of the honorary music society Pi Kappa Lambda. He has served on juries for musical competitions of the Koussevitzky International Recording Awards, American Opera Auditions, Enrico Caruso Vocal Competition (Giulietta Simionato, chair), and Singers Development Foundation, as well as on anonymous “undercover” panels. Following more than twenty years in New York City, he moved in 2001 to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he gardens, cooks, listens, writes, and communes with his resident bobcats.
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