The New Juilliard Ensemble, Led by Joel Sachs, Celebrates the Royal Philharmonic Society's Bicentennial on Sunday, September 29 at 5 PM (4 PM Pre-Concert Conversation) in The Peter Jay Sharp Theater


NJE Performs Royal Philharmonic Society/Britten-Pears Foundation Commissioned Works by Magnus Lindberg and Judith Weir; a World Premiere by Carson Cooman; and a U.S. Premiere by Guus Janssen

Start Date

Monday, August 12, 2013

Press Release Images

Conductor Joel Sachs and the New Juilliard Ensemble (Photo by Hiroyuki Ito)
Conductor Joel Sachs and the New Juilliard Ensemble (Photo by Hiroyuki Ito)
Magnus Lindberg (Photo by Hanya Chlala, Arena/PAL)
Magnus Lindberg (Photo by Hanya Chlala, Arena/PAL)


Founder and director, Joel Sachs, leads the New Juilliard Ensemble’s opening concert on Sunday, September 29 at 5 PM (please note late afternoon start time) in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater, which is in partnership with the Royal Philharmonic Society’s bicentennial celebrations and includes works by Magnus Lindberg (Finland) and Judith Weir (U.K.), commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Britten-Pears Foundation to celebrate the bicentenary of the RPS and the centenary of Britten. The program features Judith Weir’s I give you the end of a golden string (2011-13, first performance outside the U.K.); Magnus Lindberg’s Aldeburgh Trilogy (2002-13) comprising Bubo bubo (2002, first performance outside Europe), Counter Phrases (2002-3, New York premiere), and Red House (2013, first performance outside the U.K.); the world premiere of American composer Carson Cooman’s Flax-Golden Tales, for storyteller (Katherine Wood) and chamber orchestra (2013) with text by Erin Morgenstern and composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble; and Guus Janssen’s Tafelmanieren (Table Manners), a concerto for a percussionist (Andrew Funcheon) playing a table (2012, first performance outside Europe).

A pre-concert conversation about the role of the Royal Philharmonic Society and commissioning new music takes place at 4 PM and includes Royal Philharmonic Society’s Executive Director Rosemary Johnson and Projects Coordinator Tom Hutchinson, with Joel Sachs.

The concert and pre-concert conversation are FREE, but tickets are required and will be available on September 16 at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or go to www.juilliard.edu/nje.

Judith Weir’s work had its world premiere at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 2013 by the Britten Sinfonia, conducted by Ryan Wigglesworth. Ms. Weir says of her work, I give you the end of a golden string for string orchestra (2011-13): “My aim when I began this piece was to create a long length of string music out of a single strand of melody. While experimenting at the beginning, shaping and extending a melody in many possible directions, I came across William Blake’s lines…‘I give you the end of a golden string; Only wind it into a ball, It will lead you in at Heaven’s gate, Built in Jerusalem’s wall’ …and this became my working method, winding a single tune around itself so that it gradually formed itself into a much richer, more complex texture. The process happens three times, producing the equivalent of a continuous three movement concerto.” The 16 minute work was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Britten-Pears Foundation. This will be the first performance of the work outside of the U.K.

To hear Judith Weir discuss her work, I give you the end of a golden string, one of the new commissions performed by the New Juilliard Ensemble with conductor Joel Sachs, go to https://vimeo.com/74190963.

Judith Weir is the composer and librettist of a series of operas (King Harald’s Saga, The Black Spider, A Night at the Chinese Opera, The Vanishing Bridegroom, and Blond Eckbert) which have been frequently performed in Europe and the United States. She has written concert works for some notable singers, including Jane Manning, Dawn Upshaw, Jessye Norman, and Alice Coote. Together with film director Margaret Williams, Weir has written music and screenplay for several film operas. During the 1990s, she was resident composer for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, writing several works that were premiered by the Orchestra’s then principal conductor, Simon Rattle. Folk music from the British Isles and beyond has influenced an extensive group of string and piano compositions written for Domus, the Florestan Trio, and the Schubert Ensemble. Born into a Scottish family, she grew up near London and was originally an oboist. At Cambridge University, her composition teacher was Robin Holloway. She was artistic director of Spitalfields Festival in London (1995-2000) and has continued to teach; since 2006, she has been visiting professor at Cardiff University. Judith Weir received the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2007 and the Incorporated Society of Musician’s Distinguished Musician Award in 2010.

Magnus Lindberg’s Red House (2013) is also a commission for the Royal Philharmonic Society’s bicentennial and Britten’s centennial. Conductor/composer Oliver Knussen and composer Colin Matthews suggested that he write a piece that could act as the third movement in a suite that would begin with two earlier works, Bubo bubo (2002) and Counter Phrases (2002-3). The suite is entitled Aldeburgh Trilogy, after the English seacoast town where Britten and his partner Peter Pears lived for decades. Bubo bubo (2002) was composed for the London Sinfonietta in honor of Oliver Knussen’s 50th birthday with support from the Royal Festival Hall and Anthony and Mary Mackintosh, and was first performed on June 12, 2002 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre. The title – Latin name for the Eurasian Eagle Owl – celebrates Knussen’s passion for collecting owl figurines. Counter Phrases (2002-3) is an evening of cinema with live music. Ten short films by the Belgian filmmaker and musician Thierry De Mey were set to music by ten composers and performed with ten danced phrases by the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and performed by her company Rosas. The ten composers each worked on one variation after the films were edited and were unaware of what their colleagues were doing. Red House (2013), which uses musical elements from Bubo bubo and Counter Phrases, is named for the home that Britten and Pears shared near Aldeburgh.

Composer Magnus Lindberg was born in Helsinki in 1958. Following piano studies, he entered the Sibelius Academy where his composition teachers included Juilliard alumnus Einojuhani Rautavaara and Paavo Heininen. The Ears Open Society, founded in 1980 by Lindberg and his contemporaries, Eero Hämeeniemi, Jouni Kaipainen, Kaija Saariaho, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, aimed to encourage a greater awareness of  mainstream modernism. Lindberg’s output has positioned him at the forefront of orchestral composition. His Expo, premiered by the New York Philharmonic in September 2009, opened Lindberg’s three years as composer-in-residence and launched Alan Gilbert’s tenure as music director. Al Largo for orchestra and Souvenir for ensemble were first performed by the Philharmonic in 2010; the Piano Concerto No. 2 was premiered by Yefim Bronfman in 2012. Further performances of the concerto with Bronfman will take place early in 2014 at the New York Philharmonic and Toronto Symphony. Lindberg’s music has been recorded on Deutsche Grammophon, Sony, Ondine, and Finlandia labels. In 2003, he was awarded the prestigious Wihuri Sibelius Prize. Magnus Lindberg is published by Boosey & Hawkes. Earlier works are published by Chester Music.

Carson Cooman’s Flax-Golden Tales (2013) for storyteller Katherine Wood and chamber orchestra on a text by author Erin Morgenstern was composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble and receives its world premiere on this concert. Each of the five movements (In tandem, Ideas, Borne back ceaseless into the past, Fairy trap, and Where the sidewalk doesn’t end) is based on a different brief story of only ten sentences and explores a different mood and tone. Besides being reactions and complements to the stories, the movements also pursue their own musical identity, each being cast in a separate form: 1) ricercare; 2) rondo; 3) chaconne; 4) scherzo; 5) aria and chorale. The goal is an organic and equal synthesis of story and music, in which each adds an additional dimension to the other.

American composer Carson Cooman has written hundreds of works in many forms – from solo instrumental pieces to operas, and from orchestral works to hymn tunes. His works appear on more than forty recordings. His primary composition studies were with Bernard Rands, Judith Weir, Alan Fletcher, and James Wiley. Since 2006, he has served as composer-in-residence for Memorial Church at Harvard University. He also is active as a concert organist.

Writer Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel, The Night Circus, was published in November 2011 by Random House to significant international acclaim. It spent seven weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List and received a 2012 Alex Award from the American Library Associated. Born in Marshfield, Massachusetts and educated at Smith College, Ms. Morgenstern currently lives in NYC.

Guus Janssen’s Tafelmanieren (Table Manners) (2011) with Juilliard percussionist Andrew Funcheon receives its first performance outside Europe on this concert. The work is for solo percussionist and ensemble. The percussion player is seated behind a table, which he uses as an instrument. Later in the piece, there are small percussion instruments and some cutlery. The composer writes: “Quite often my family has to ask me politely to ‘please stop tapping the table’ as I have the bad manner to do so and to make all kinds of complex rhythms that way. When I thought about this piece, I decided to make this bad habit the subject, which led me to the idea of a percussionist developing all kinds of ways to treating a table as an instrument…comparable to the soundman from the days of silent movies.”

Dutch composer/pianist Guus Janssen was born in Heiloo in northern Holland in 1951. He studied piano and composition at the Sweelinck Academy of Music in Amsterdam. As a pianist and harpsichordist, he performed in various groups with musicians from John Zorn to Gidon Kremer. Since the early 1980s, he has led his own ensembles, ranging from piano trios to eleven-piece bands and opera orchestra. He frequently appears at leading international festivals playing his own compositions and inprovisations, and also performs with many of the leading Dutch ensembles and orchestras. His compositions range from piano and chamber music to symphonic works and have been performed by the the New Juilliard Ensemble, the Kronos Quartet, the Schoenberg Ensemble, the Ebony Band, and the Concertgebouw Orchestra. In recognition of his achievements as a composer, Jannsen won the prestigious Matthijs Vermeulen Award in 1984. He has composed four operas in collaboration with Friso Haverkamp: Faust’s Licht (1988/1993); Noach (1994); Hier (2000); and Blue, a Pinocchio in reverse (2010). His compositions are published by Donemus (Amsterdam) and are available in the United States through Theodore Presser.

About the New Juilliard Ensemble

The New Juilliard Ensemble, led by founding director Joel Sachs, celebrates the liveliness of today’s music, focusing primarily on repertory of the last decade. Now in its 21st season, the New Juilliard Ensemble presents music by international composers writing in the most diverse styles. Its members are current students at Juilliard, all volunteers who are admitted to the ensemble by audition. The Ensemble takes its name from an unofficial student group of the 1960s that specialized in the performance of new music. It is modeled on new-music chamber orchestras common in Europe, such as Frankfurt’s Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris, and London Sinfonietta, which have cultivated a repertory for chamber orchestra that is all too rarely performed in the United States. The New Juilliard Ensemble brings many of these works to New York, presents American compositions for similar ensembles, and has commissioned many pieces. Although its primary goal is to train performers, the Ensemble offers opportunities for students in Juilliard’s composition program through an annual audition from which one or two composers are selected to write for the group. Altogether, NJE has premiered nearly 100 compositions written for it by composers all over the world.

The Ensemble appears regularly at MoMA’s Summergarden and has been a featured ensemble four times at the Lincoln Center Festival. NJE has collaborated with Carnegie Hall on Voices from Latin America (2012) Japan/NYC (2011), and Ancient Paths, Modern Voices (2009) festivals. In 2008 New Juilliard Ensemble members joined members of the Lucerne Festival Academy Ensemble with conductor Pierre Boulez for performances at the FOCUS! festival, which celebrated composer Elliott Carter’s 100th year, and at the Lucerne Festival.  Over its history. the Ensemble has also performed in France, Germany, Israel, Japan, Poland, Russia, the UK, and several locations outside New York, including the Freer Gallery in Washington, D.C. where it played aleatoric music in conjunction with a Smithsonian exhibition of Persian and Turkish “divining” manuscripts.

In addition to playing very new music, the Ensemble also plays older works and 20th-century classics in the concerts that open the annual Focus! festival. In recent years those concerts explored the themes California: A Century of New Music (2009), which showcased West Coast composers; Music at the Center: Composing an American Mainstream (2010); Polish Modern: New Directions in Polish Music Since 1945 (2011);  Sounds Re-Imagined: John Cage at 100 (2012); and  The British Renaissance (2013) featuring British music since World War II with a tribute to the centenary of Benjamin Britten. It will open the 2014 festival, Alfred Schnittke’s World.

The NJE recording of Virko Baley’s Violin Concerto, with violinist Tom Chiu, can be found on the TNC label (www.TNCmusic.net). The repertory for a joint project with the Royal Academy of Music was recorded for the Academy’s own label.

About Joel Sachs, Founder and Director of the New Juilliard Ensemble

Joel Sachs, founder and director of the New Juilliard Ensemble, performs a vast range of traditional and contemporary music as conductor and pianist. As co-director of the internationally-acclaimed new music ensemble Continuum, Dr. Sachs has appeared in hundreds of performances in New York, nationally, and throughout Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He has also conducted orchestras and ensembles in Austria, Brazil, China, El Salvador, Germany, Iceland, Mexico, Switzerland, and Ukraine, and has held new music residencies in Berlin, Shanghai, London, Salzburg, Curitiba (Brazil), Helsinki, and the Banff Centre (Canadian Rockies).

One of the most active presenters of new music in New York, Joel Sachs founded the New Juilliard Ensemble in 1993. He produces and directs The Juilliard School’s annual FOCUS! festival, has been artistic director of Juilliard’s concerts at New York’s Museum of Modern Art since 1993, and was also a co-director of the former Sonic Boom Festival of contemporary music - a project of a consortium of New York City’s most prestigious new music ensembles.

 A member of Juilliard's music history faculty, Joel Sachs has written a biography of the American composer Henry Cowell, which was published by Oxford University Press in June 2012. Dr. Sachs appears on radio as a commentator on recent music. He has been a regular delegate to Netherlands Music Days and other international music conferences.

A graduate of Harvard, Dr. Sachs received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He was given Columbia University’s Alice M. Ditson Award for his service to American music. In 2011, he was made an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard University for his work in support of new music, and received the national Gloria Artis medal of the Polish Government for his service to Polish music.

About the Royal Philharmonic Society

The Royal Philharmonic Society is celebrating its bicentenary during 2013. It was formed on January 24, 1813 with the aim to promote the performance, in the most perfect manner possible, of the best and most approved instrumental music and two centuries on, the Society remains at the heart of classical music in the U.K.: the authoritative voice of classical music for composers, performers, and audiences. A fall season of RPS bicentennial events in New York, led by Juilliard, the New York Philharmonic, and Morgan Library and Museum, includes concerts, talks, and exhibitions. For a complete list of Royal Philharmonic Society bicentenary events, go to www.rps200.org.

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2013-2014 Calendar of Events

New Juilliard Ensemble, Led by Joel Sachs


Sunday, September 29, 4 PM Pre-Concert Discussion and 5 PM Concert, Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater

Celebrating the Bicentennial of the Royal Philharmonic Society

New Juilliard Ensemble

Joel Sachs, conductor

Andrew Funcheon, percussionist

Katherine Wood, storyteller


4 PM Pre-Concert Conversation

Royal Philharmonic Society’s Executive Director Rosemary Johnson and Royal Philharmonic Society Projects Coordinator Tom Hutchinson discuss the role of the Royal Philharmonic Society and commissioning new music with Joel Sachs.


5 PM Concert Honoring the Bicentennial of the Royal Philharmonic Society

JUDITH WEIR (U.K.) I give you the end of a golden string (2011-13) (first performance outside the U.K.)

I give you the end of a golden string was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Britten-Pears Foundation.

GUUS JANSSEN (Netherlands) Tafelmanieren (Table Manners) (2012, first performance outside Europe) with percussionist Andrew Funcheon

CARSON COOMAN (U.S.) Flax-Golden Tales, for storyteller and chamber orchestra (2013)

(world premiere, composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble) with text by Erin Morgenstern. Katherine Wood, storyteller

MAGNUS LINDBERG (Finland) Aldeburgh Trilogy (2002-13)

Bubo bubo (2002, first performance outside Europe)

Counter Phrases (2002-3, New York premiere)

Red House (2013, first performance outside the U.K.)

Red House was commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Britten-Pears Foundation.

The concert and pre-concert discussion are FREE, but tickets are required and will be available on September 16 at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or go to www.juilliard.edu/nje.


Friday, November 1, 8 PM, Juilliard’s Paul Hall

New Juilliard Ensemble

Joel Sachs, conductor


SUKHI KANG (Korea) Myth (2008)

STEFANO GERVASONI (Italy) Froward (2011, first performance outside Europe)

BETTY OLIVERO (Israel) Zimaar II (2009, U.S. premiere) (vocal soloist to be announced)

GRAŻYNA BACEWICZ (Poland) Incrustations (1965)

ROBERT SIERRA (Puerto Rico/U.S.) Concierto da Cámara (2008)


FREE tickets will be available October 18 at the Juilliard Box Office.


Friday, January 24, 8 PM, Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp theater

Opening concert of FOCUS! 2014

Alfred Schnittke’s World

FOCUS! 2014 Festival Dedicated to Soviet-Russian Composer Alfred Schnittke

New Juilliard Ensemble

Joel Sachs, conductor


ARVO PÄRT (Estonia) Pro et Contra (1966) (cello soloist to be announced)

GIYA KANCHELI (Georgia/Belgium) Daytime Prayers (Tagesgebete) from Life Without Christmas (1991)

ALFRED SCHNITTKE (Russia/Germany) Symphony No. 4 (1984)


FREE tickets will be available January 10 at the Juilliard Box Office.


Tuesday, April 1, 8 PM, Alice Tully Hall

New Juilliard Ensemble

Joel Sachs, conductor


MOLLY JOYCE (U.S.) Immovability (2014, world premiere, composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble)

ROBIN DE RAAFF (Netherlands) Percussion Concerto (2014, world premiere, composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble)

MICHAEL IPPOLITO (U.S.) A Feast of Fools (2014, world premiere, composed for the New Juilliard Ensemble)

VALENTIN BIBIK (Ukraine/Israel) Cello Concerto No. 2, Op. 143 (2001,first performance outside Europe) (soloist to be determined)


FREE tickets will be available March 17 at the Juilliard Box Office.

The Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office is located in the lobby of Juilliard, 155 West 65th Street, NYC. Box Office hours are Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 6 PM.

For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or go to www.juilliard.edu/nje.