Bemidji State to host world premier of new multi-harpsichord concerto

BEMIDJI, Minn. (Oct. 5, 2011) — A newly-commissioned four-harpsichord concerto composed by Asako Hirabayashi will have its world premier Saturday, Oct. 15, at Bemidji State University.

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Thompson Recital Hall of Bemidji State’s Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex. Tickets will be available at the door; adult tickets will be $10, and adults 65 and older are admitted for $5. Students are free with a valid ID.

The concerto for four harpsichords and string quartet was commissioned by the four artists who will perform at the concert as members of La Musique Nomade – Nicholas Good, from Topeka, Kan.; Heidi Mayer, from Chicago; Helen Skuggedal Reed, from Evansville, Ind.; and Deborah Steinbar, from Bemidji, Minn. The quartet has presented two previous multi-harpsichord concerts in Bemidji, and this commission was inspired by audience responses to previous concerts that featured concertos by Bach. The concerto will be directed by Erika Svanoe, Bemidji State’s director of bands. The string quartet will include Melanie Hanson, Andrew Martin, Coca Bochenko and Patrick Riley.

The concert will also feature Bach’s f-minor solo concerto, BWV 1056, his c-minor duo BWV 1062, and his four-harpsichord concerto in minor. It will also feature “Vocalise” for violin and harpsichord, also was composed by Hirabayashi.

Hirabayashi is an award-winning composer, and won a McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians as a harpsichordist for 2009-10. She won first prize in a 1987 composition competition sponsored by Japan’s NHK television network. In 2004, she won the Aliénor International Harpsichord Composition Competition sponsored by the U.S. Southeast Historical Keyboard Society. Her first recording, “The Harpsichord in the New Millennium,” featured Hirabayashi’s original compositions; it was selected as one of the five best classical albums of 2010 by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Hirabayashi holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in composition from the Aichi Art University in Japan and earned a doctorate in harpsichord performance at the Juilliard School in 1998.

Hirabayashi will be in attendance for the rehearsals and will present a master class for Bemidji State composition students, and will share some background on the composition with the audience at its premiere performance. Additional master classes in piano, harpsichord and organ will be given by some of the guest harpsichordists prior to the recital.

The recital is made possible through grants from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, the Bemidji Area Arts Endowment, a component of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, and Lueken’s Village Foods of Bemidji.

For more information, contact the Department of Music at (218) 755-2915 or project director Deborah Steinbar at (218) 335-2428.