Harp of Ages (2023) for harp and orchestra was commissioned by the Colorado Symphony for Principal Harpist, Courtney Hershey Bress. The world premiere was given by Courtney Hershey Bress, solo harp, with the Colorado Symphony conducted by Andrew Litton, at the Boettcher Concert Hall, Denver Performing Arts Complex on May 12, 2023.
The harp is one of the oldest and most beautiful instruments, from early civilizations to the present. Like the seven pedals on the modern harp, my concerto is divided into seven movements that reflect on many ages of the harp. Each movement is associated with a memorable figure associated with the harp:
based on the 1948 play by Tennessee Williams
Music: Michael Daugherty
Choreography: Cathy Marston
Commissioned by: Houston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre
World premiere: Houston Ballet on March 9, 2023
Duration: one hour
The music for Summer and Smoke was composed in 2022-23 for the ballet choreographed by Cathy Marston, inspired by the Tennessee Williams 1948 play of the same title.
Review: “I don’t remember any previous commissioned score for Houston Ballet with such a lucid mix of contrasting, overlapping motifs as this one by the Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty. His melodies for flute, clarinet, strings and horns evocatively reflect the characters and emotions they represent. A small sea of xylophones punctuates it all, able to sound both primal and orderly. Music director Ermanno Florio and the Houston Ballet Orchestra seemed to relish Daugherty’s music as much as the dancers seemed to enjoy moving to it.” (Houston Chronicle)
YOLANDA KONDONASSIS, harp
From FIVE MINUTES for Earth
Released April 1, 2022
Hear the Dust Blow recalls the devastating dust storms that destroyed dozens of towns in Oklahoma and Northern Texas, as depicted in John Steinbeck’s seminal 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath. Millions of people abandoned their homesteads and headed to California in what became the largest migration in American history. I have recast the old American folk song, “Down in the Valley,” and created music which alternates between a melancholy Dust Bowl lament and a celebration of a better life to come in the “promised land” of California.
~Michael Daugherty (from the liner notes)
World Premiere: Commissioned by the Santa Rosa Symphony — World premiere with the Santa Rosa Symphony, conducted by Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong at Weill Hall at the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park, California on May 7, 2022.
PREMIERE PERFORMANCES — May 7-9, 2022
Santa Rosa Symphony
Francesco Lecce-Chong, conductor
Weill Hall at the Green Music Center, Santa Rosa, CA
Full score and audio (for best results, view in HD 1080p):
Composer Michael Daugherty and Francesco Lecce-Chong, Music Director of the Santa Rosa Symphony, in Santa Rosa, CA, May 2021
Conductor Manfred Honeck and Michael Daugherty at rehearsals with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, February 9, 2022
GRAMMY Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty first came to international attention when his Metropolis Symphony was performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Zinman, at Carnegie Hall in 1994 and subsequently recorded by Decca/Argo. Since then, Daugherty’s music has entered orchestral, band and chamber music repertoire and made him, according to the League of American Orchestras, one of the ten most-performed American composers of concert music today. His music has received six GRAMMY Awards, including Best Contemporary Classical Composition in 2010 for Deus ex Machina for piano and orchestra and in 2016 for Tales of Hemingway for cello and orchestra.
Born in 1954 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Daugherty is the oldest of five brothers, all professional musicians. They grew up in a musical household, with a father who played the drums in dance bands and a mother who sang in musical theater productions. As a young man, Daugherty studied composition with many of the preeminent composers of the 20th century including Jacob Druckman, Earle Brown, Bernard Rands and Roger Reynolds at Yale University (1980-82), Betsy Jolas at the Paris Conservatory and Pierre Boulez at IRCAM in Paris (1979-80), and György Ligeti in Hamburg (1982-84). From 1980-82, Daugherty was also an assistant to jazz arranger Gil Evans in New York.
After teaching from 1986 to 1991 at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin, Ohio, Daugherty became Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he is a mentor to many of today’s most talented young composers. Daugherty is also a frequent guest of professional orchestras, festivals, universities and conservatories around the world. Daugherty’s music is published by Peermusic Classical/Faber Music, Boosey & Hawkes and since 2010 by Michael Daugherty Music.
BAY OF PIGS for classical guitar and strings
Manuel Barrueco, classical guitar
GEE’S BEND for electric guitar and orchestra
D.J. Sparr, electric guitar
TROYJAM for narrator and orchestra
Michael Lippert, narrator
Anne Carson, librettist
Neal Gittleman, Conductor
Six Riffs after Ovid (2021) for solo oboe was commissioned by Bang on a Can, and premiered on a Bang on a Can Marathon in April 18, 2021 by oboist Titus Underwood.
My composition is inspired by The Metamorphoses, written by the Roman poet Ovid in 8 AD. Like Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for solo oboe, composed in 1951 by the English composer Benjamin Britten, I have selected six characters from Ovid’s epic poem:
Pan, who played on a reed pipe; Phaeton, who rode the chariot of the sun and was struck down by a thunderbolt; Niobe, who lamented the death of her children and was turned into a mountain; Bacchus, who revelled at drunken feasts; Narcissus, who fell in love with his own image and turned into a flower; and Arethusa, who was turned into a fountain.
The Omaha Symphony presented the world premiere of Michael Daugherty’s Lift Up Thine Ears on June 11 & 12, 2021, as part of the orchestra’s 100th Anniversary season finale concert, conducted by Maestro Thomas Wilkins.
MICHAEL DAUGHERTY Lift Up Thine Ears for orchestra (World Premiere)
JOHN WILLIAMS Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra
Branford Marsalis, alto saxophone
ELGAR Enigma Variations
World-premiere recording features performances by the Albany Symphony’s Dogs of Desire ensemble led by David Alan Miller, and vocal soloists Annika Socolofsky and John Daugherty
“During these times of turbulence and uncertainty, I think back to the songwriter and political activist Woody Guthrie, who traveled across America with his guitar and harmonica to perform songs of hope and social justice during the Great Depression and World War II. As a musical tribute to this Dust Bowl troubadour, I have composed This Land Sings: Inspired by the Life and Times of Woody Guthrie, a song cycle with 17 original vocal and instrumental numbers, like a Grand Ole Opry radio broadcast. It is my hope that this Naxos recording, featuring the Albany Symphony’s new music ensemble Dogs of Desire, will remind us that music can spark greater awareness and bring about meaningful change.”
Michael Daugherty: This Land Sings, BBC Music Magazine
Michael Daugherty: This Land Sings (Inspired by the life and times of Woody Guthrie) – Annika Socolofsky; John Daugherty; Dogs of Desire; David Alan Miller, The Whole Note
Classical Notes: New releases from Daugherty, Tann, Times Union (Albany)
Michael Daugherty: This Land Sings, Glarean Magazine (German)