poster for Max Lifchitz's Carnival/Carnaval ConcertMAX LIFCHITZ PERFORMS CARNIVAL/CARNAVAL CELEBRATION

The University at Albany Department of Music is pleased to present faculty member Max Lifchitz in Carnival/Carnaval, a program of dance-inspired piano music from the Caribbean and the Americas in anticipation of the Carnival and Mardi Gras revelries, on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 7pm at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center on the uptown campus. The program will feature works Mendes, Nazareth, Saumell, Villa-Lobos, Gottschalk, Semmler and Lifchitz.  The Grammy nominated pianist and composer has constructed a program which will highlight how the unique musical fusion that emerged in Cuba during the middle of the 19th century subsequently exerted tremendous influence in the development of both popular and serious music throughout the world.

The recital will open with a performance of Manuel Saumell’s Cuban Contradanzas written in the 1850s. Known as the “father of the contradanza or habanera,” Saumell carved out his unique style by combining European melodic and harmonic elements with African derived rhythmic gestures. The infectious rhythms and harmonies of Saumell’s charming Cuban dances can be found in the Brazilian tangos of Ernesto Nazareth (a composer sometimes referred to as Brazil’s Scott Joplin); Heitor Villa-Lobos ever-popular Choros No. 5 (subtitled Brazilian Soul) and Gilberto Mendes’ humorous parody of Mozart’s C Major Sonata.

The 19th century American virtuoso and composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk, who befriended Saumell during his sojourn in Cuba and Puerto Rico, absorbed and personalized Saumell’s style producing several exciting works that exhibit strong influences from Caribbean and African-American music including four being featured at the concert: Ojos Criollos, Manchega, Souvenir do Porto Rico and Banjo.

The second half of the concert will feature the local premieres of Alexander Semmler’s Three Fleeting Moments and Max Lifchitz’s Piano Silhouettes.

Born in Germany in 1900, Semmler settled in New York in 1923 and worked as conductor and pianist for the then newly formed CBS Symphony Orchestra. A prolific composer, he also served fifteen years as music director of the Maverick Concert Series in Woodstock. Written towards the end of his life, the brief Three Fleeting Moments are remarkably expressive and accessible.

The paintings of Tampa-based Elizabeth Condon provided the inspiration for Lifchitz’s Piano Silhouettes. The work was commissioned by Korean pianist Sang-Hie Lee who premiered it in May of 2012 as part of an all Lifchitz concert at the Merkin Concert Hall New York City.

Lifchitz is well known for his performances of contemporary music. A winner of the first prize in the 1976 Gaudeamus Competition held in Holland, Lifchitz has recorded nine compact discs featuring piano music by contemporary composers. He is the founder and director of North/South Consonance, a New York City based organization devoted to the performance of music by living composers now in its 34th consecutive season.

Lifchitz has appeared as soloist with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Siena College Chamber Orchestra, México’s National Symphony Orchestra, El Salvador’s National Orchestra, Perú’s National Philharmonic and the Neuchatel Orchestra in Switzerland. Robert Commanday, writing for The San Francisco Chronicle described him as "a composer of brilliant imagination and a stunning, ultra-sensitive pianist."The New York Times music critic Allan Kozinn praised Lifchitz for his "clean, measured and sensitive performances." A graduate of The Juilliard School and Harvard University, Mr. Lifchitz joined the staff of the University at Albany in the fall of 1986.

Tickets are $8 for the general public and $4 for students, seniors & UAlbany faculty/staff and may be purchased through the Performing Arts Center Box Office.  For further information, contact the Box Office at (518) 442-3997.

This event is made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.