Beerman work premieres to accolades in NYC

A new work by Dr. Burton Beerman, music composition, was the opening-night highlight of the American Composers Alliance’s annual festival at Symphony Space in New York City, according to a June 9 review in the New York Times.

Burton Beerman
Burton Beerman

In an article titled “Classical Traditions Kept and Upended,” Bernard Holland writes “The most interesting, and by far the most elaborate, display of experimentation was Burton Beerman’s ‘Still, Small Voice’: a multimedia field day of opportunities. Celesta Haraszti danced. Madeleine Shapiro played the cello. And geared in response were Mr. Beerman’s computer-generated sounds: an entertaining vocabulary of explosions, industrial shrieks and whistles and mimicked human voices. Commenting on all these were projections on a screen behind the performers." (For a clip of the performance, click here.)

The performance took place on the first night of the festival, hosted by the alliance to promote the work of American composers. One of the group’s founders, in 1937, was Aaron Copland; it now has more than 200 members.

Beerman received a 2005 Barlow Endowment Commission for Music Composition to write “A Still, Small Voice.” The Barlow commission, considered one of the most competitive commissions awarded to composers, is given through an endowment at Brigham Young University. Its purpose is to encourage and promote individuals who demonstrate technical skills and natural gifts for the composition of great music. (For a second clip of the performance, click here.)

“A Still, Small Voice” was composed for Shapiro and Haraszti. Considered the preeminent performer of experimental music for cello, Shapiro has participated in the premieres of numerous works by composers such as Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Charles Wuorinen and Mario Davidovsky. She is the director of the chamber ensemble MODERNWORKS!, which has appeared at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago and the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Haraszti likewise has had a long involvement with innovative dance, having performed in and created more than 40 experimental works. Described a “virtuoso performer” by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Haraszti has toured with Beerman since 1982 as the Electric Arts Duo, performing throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

At BGSU, Beerman is director of the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music and in 1980 founded the University's annual New Music and Art Festival, which attracts some 1,200 submissions annually from around the world. His groundbreaking work has earned him numerous prizes and awards. 

Following the New York appearance, Beerman and Haraszti are in Greensboro, N.C., to record his composition, "Tikvah: A Concert of Hope and Remembrance," which was part of the University's Holocaust Conference in April 2005.

June 19, 2006