Juilliard's AXIOM, Led by Conductor Jeffrey Milarsky, Performs Works by Haas, Knussen, Andriessen, and Lang on Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 8 PM in Alice Tully Hall


Concert Part of Carnegie Hall's Festival, "Vienna: City of Dreams"

Start Date

Friday, January 24, 2014

Press Release Images

Jeffrey Milarsky (Photo by Peter Konerko)
Jeffrey Milarsky (Photo by Peter Konerko)
Georg Friedrich Haas
Georg Friedrich Haas


AXIOM, Juilliard’s critically-acclaimed contemporary music ensemble specializing in the 20th century’s ‘classic’ repertoire and led by music director Jeffrey Milarsky, presents a concert on Thursday, February 27 at 8 PM in Alice Tully Hall as part of Carnegie Hall’s festival, Vienna: City of Dreams, and includes Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas’ Monodie (1998-99). Led by Mr. Milarsky, the evening also includes Oliver Knussen’s Two Organa, Op. 27 (1995); Louis Andriessen’s Zilver (1994); and David Lang’s cheating, lying, stealing (1993, rev. 1995).

Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas has emerged as one of the major European composers of his generation. He was recently appointed to the faculty of Columbia University. Mr. Haas has composed several operas and concertos, and a variety of chamber works including seven string quartets. He has received numerous national and international prizes, including the Kompositionspreis of the SWR Symphony Orchestra (2010) and the Grand Austrian State Prize for Music (2007), the country’s highest artistic honor. His music is published by Universal Edition.

Tickets are FREE and available February 13 at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard, located in the lobby of the School at 155 West 65th Street. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or go to www.juilliard.edu/axiom.

British composer Oliver Knussen writes this note about Two Organa, Op. 27 (1994): “These two short pieces approach the same idea in quite different ways. The ‘organa’ of the 12th-century Notre Dame school – exemplified by the magnificent polyphonic works of Pérotin – employ the sustained tones of plainchant as the foundation for ecstatic dance-like melismata. In June 1991, I used this technique to write a very short piece for a Dutch project in which 32 composers wrote for a two-octave mechanical musical box using only white notes. I dedicated the resulting ‘Notre Dame des Jouets’ to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies on his 60th birthday and orchestrated it a few months later. The second organum, written in July and August 1994 for the 20th anniversary of the Schoenberg Ensemble and dedicated to Reinbert de Leeuw, brings the same technique into a less ‘innocent’ world employing the total chromatic in elaborate polyrhythmic layers. It should be listened to with half an ear on the foreground activity and the other half on the extremely slow cantus firmus which defines its scale and resonances.”

Composer/conductor Oliver Knussen is presently artist-in-association with both the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group. The recipient of many awards, including the Nemmers Prize in 2006, he has been artistic director of the Aldeburgh Festival (1983-98), head of contemporary music at the Tanglewood Music Center (1986-93), and music director of the London Sinfonietta (1998-2002). Together with Colin Matthews, he founded the composition and performance courses at the Britten-Pears School in 1992. Among his best- known compositions are three symphonies, concertos for horn and violin, several song cycles, works for ensembles and solo piano, and the operas, Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop!, written in collaboration with the late Maurice Sendak. Mr. Knussen’s 60th birthday was celebrated with special events at Aldeburgh, Amsterdam, Birmingham, London, and Tanglewood.

“The idea behind Zilver,” writes Louis Andriessen, “was to write a chorale variation as Bach did for organ: a long, slow-moving melody combined with the same melody played faster. The ensemble is divided into two groups: the wind and strings play the sustained melody in chorale-like four-part harmony, and the rest of the instruments – vibraphone, marimba, and piano – play increasingly fast staccato chords. The two groups play in canons. Zilver is one of a planned series of chamber pieces named after a type of physical matter. Hout (‘wood’) is the first and Zilver (‘silver’) is the second. The title also refers to the two silver instruments – flute and vibraphone – which start and end the piece.”

Dutch composer and teacher, Louis Andriessen, began his composition studies with his father and continued lessons with Kees van Baaren at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and with Berio in Milan and Berlin. A prolific composer, his works range from instrumental to vocal combinations. He received the 2011 Grawemeyer Award for his five-part film opera, La Commedia (2008). The 2013-14 season brings premieres of Mysteriën by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Mariss Jansons and Tapdance for percussion and large ensemble with Colin Currie in the Zaterdag Matinee series in Amsterdam. His music is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

David Lang writes about cheating, lying, stealing: “A couple of years ago, I started thinking about how so often when classical composers write a piece of music, they are trying to tell you something that they are proud of and like about themselves. Here's this big gushing melody, see how emotional I am. Or, here's this abstract hard-to-figure-out piece, see how complicated I am, see my really big brain. I am more noble, more sensitive, I am so happy. The composer really believes he or she is exemplary in this or that area. It's interesting, but it's not very humble. So I thought, What would it be like if composers based pieces on what they thought was wrong with them? Like, here's a piece that shows you how miserable I am. Or, here's a piece that shows you what a liar I am, what a cheater I am. I wanted to make a piece that was about something disreputable. It's a hard line to cross. You have to work against all your training. You are not taught to find the dirty seams in music. You are not taught to be low-down, clumsy, sly and underhanded. In cheating, lying, stealing, although phrased in a comic way, I am trying to look at something dark. There is a swagger, but it is not trustworthy. In fact, the instruction in the score for how to play it says: Ominous funk.” The work had its world premiere on January 11, 1995 at the Modern Art Museum in Los Angeles by EAR Unit. The work was revised and that version premiered on May 1996 by the Bang on a Can All-Stars.

American composer David Lang graduated from Stanford (1978), the University of Iowa (1980), and Yale (1989), as a doctoral student of Martin Bresnick. He moved to New York, where he founded, with Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe, the ensemble, Bang on a Can. His works include the opera Modern Painters (Santa Fe, 1994) and orchestral pieces, as well as music for soloists and small ensembles. David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for music. Mr. Lang was named Musical America’s 2013 Composer of the Year and recipient of Carnegie Hall’s Debs and Composer’s Chair for 2013-14.

Georg Friedrich Haas’ work, Monodie, is scored for 18 instruments and is dedicated to Peter Rundel of the Philharmonie Berlin. It was completed in March 1999. ‘Single song’ is the literal translation of the Greek word ‘monody.’

Austrian composer Georg Friedrich Haas (born in 1953 in Graz, Austria) studied at the Graz Hochschule für Musik, where his teachers included Doris Wolf (for piano) and Gosta Neuwirth (for composition) and with Cerha in Vienna. He also attended summer courses at Darmstadt and at the computer studio IRCAM in Paris. 


One of the newest additions to Juilliard’s roster of performing ensembles is AXIOM. Led by music director Jeffrey Milarsky, AXIOM is dedicated to performing the masterworks of the 20th and 21st century repertoire. Since its debut in Avery Fisher Hall in February 2006, the group has rapidly established itself as a leading  ensemble in New York City’s contemporary music scene with performances throughout Lincoln Center, in addition to frequent appearances at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre and (Le) Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village. Recent collaborations with student artists from Juilliard Dance and Juilliard’s Music Technology Center (recently renamed the Center for Innovation in the Arts) highlight the variety of the ensemble’s groundbreaking activities.

AXIOM’s 2013-14 concert series concludes on Thursday. April 17 at 8 PM in Alice Tully Hall with two works by Karlheinz Stockhausen and a work by Pierre Boulez. A fourth appearance by AXIOM takes place at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, led by Alan Gilbert, as part of the New York Philharmonic’s First Biennial. Alan Gilbert conducts HK Gruber’s Gloria – a pigtale on Thursday, May 29 and Friday, May 30 at 7 PM, and Sunday, June 1 at 2 PM.

Highlights from the 2012-2013 season included a concert featuring Oliver Knussen’s Coursing, Charles Wuorinen’s Cyclops 2000, and Arnold Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1; a concert with Toru Takemitsu’s Archipelago S and John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music; and a collaboration with the Sibelius Academy conducted by Susanna Mälkki and featuring works by American and Finnish composers including Elliott Carter, Anthony Cheung, Vali-Matti Puumala, Sean Shepherd, and Jukka Tiensuu.

In the 2011-2012 season, AXIOM presented a three-concert series which featured the world premiere of American composer Elliott Carter’s Three Explorations (2011) drawn from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets, and works by Babbitt, Birtwistle, Boulez, Grisey, and Lindberg. AXIOM also gave a performance of Wolfgang Rihm’s rarely-performed work, Jagden und Formen (Hunts and Forms).

Highlights from the 2010-2011 season included a three-concert series focusing on the music of Steve Reich and Magnus Lindberg with a final concert featuring Morton Feldman’s monumental Rothko Chapel -- his take on abstract expressionist painting that’s also a eulogy to his friend Mark Rothko, presented by Lincoln Center as part of their inaugural Tully Scope festival.

In the 2009-2010 season, AXIOM presented three concerts at Juilliard and a program of pieces for smaller ensemble performed at (Le) Poisson Rouge. The ensemble performed works by Davidovsky, Ligeti, and Birtwistle in October 2009, an all-John Adams program in December 2009, and performed works by Finnish composers Magnus Lindberg and Kaija Saariaho in February 2010.                           

About Jeffrey Milarsky

American conductor Jeffrey Milarsky is music director of AXIOM. Known for his innovative programming and a command of wide-ranging repertoire, spanning from Bach to Xenakis, Mr. Milarsky has led groups such as the American Composers Orchestra, MET Chamber Ensemble, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, New World Symphony, New York Philharmonic chamber music series, and the San Francisco Symphony.

In November 2013, Jeffrey Milarsky received the Ditson Conductor’s Award, a prize for distinguished contributions to American music, given annually by Columbia University.

In the United States and abroad, Mr. Milarsky has premiered and recorded works by groundbreaking contemporary composers, including Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Mario Davidovsky,  Jonathan Dawe, Gerard Grisey, Fred Lerdahl, Tristan Murail, Luigi Nono, Wolfgang Rihm, Ralph Shapey, and Charles Wuorinen. 

In September of 2008, Mr. Milarsky was named to the conducting faculty of Juilliard. He also is senior lecturer of music at Columbia University, where he is the music director and conductor of the Columbia University Orchestra.

Mr. Milarsky made his conducting debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic during the 2011-12 season and returned last season. He is scheduled to conduct concerts again with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2013-2014. This past season Mr. Milarsky conducted the San Francisco Symphony in San Francisco, Michigan, and at Carnegie Hall in New York. He also led orchestras in Norway, Italy, and Paris. Mr. Milarsky also appears regularly at Carnegie Hall with the American Composers Orchestra, and also  recently performed at IRCAM in Paris, conducting and recording compositions by Joshua Fineberg and  Tristan Murail.

A highly sought-after timpanist and percussionist, Mr. Milarsky has performed and recorded with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, among other ensembles.  In addition, Mr. Milarsky has been principal timpanist for the Santa Fe Opera since 2005. He has recorded extensively for Angel, Bridge, Teldec, Telarc, New World, CRI, MusicMasters, EMI, Koch, and London records. Mr. Milarsky received his bachelor and master of music degrees from The Juilliard School. Upon graduation, he was awarded the Peter Mennin Prize for outstanding leadership and achievement in the arts.

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AXIOM, Led by Jeffrey Milarsky


Spring Semester 2014 - Calendar of Events

Thursday, February 27, 2014, 8 PM, Alice Tully Hall


Jeffrey Milarsky, conductor

Presented as part of Carnegie Hall’s festival, Vienna: City of Dreams


Oliver KNUSSEN Two Organa, Op. 27 (1995)

Louis ANDRIESSEN Zilver (1994)

David LANG cheating, lying, stealing (1993, revised 1995)

Georg Friedrich HAAS Monodie (1998-1999)


FREE tickets will be available beginning February 13 at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard. Box Office hours are Monday through Friday from 11 AM – 6 PM. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or go to www.juilliard.edu/axiom.


Thursday, April 17, 2014, 8 PM, Alice Tully Hall


Jeffrey Milarsky, conductor


Karlheinz STOCKHAUSEN Fünf Sternzeichen (2004)

STOCKHAUSEN Refrain (1959)

Pierre BOULEZ Derive 2 (1988/2006)


FREE tickets will be available beginning April 3 at the Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office at Juilliard. Box Office hours are Monday through Friday from 11 AM – 6 PM. For further information, call (212) 769-7406 or go to www.juilliard.edu/axiom.


Thursday, May 29, 2014, 7 PM / Friday, May 30, 2014, 7 PM/ Sunday, June 1, 2014, 2 PM

Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Alan Gilbert Conducts HK Gruber’s Gloria – a pigtale


Vocalists affiliated with The Juilliard School

Doug Fitch, Designer, Director

Edouard Getaz, producer


A co-presentation of the New York Philharmonic, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Juilliard School.


For further information, go to New York Philharmonic.