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José Serebrier: November’s Featured Contemporary Composer

Serebrier's career began at a young age with a performance of this "Elegy for Strings" was conducted by the great Leopold Stokowski.


Photo: courtesy photo

Composer/Conductor José Serebrier.

WFIU’s featured composer for November is José Serebrier.

Serebrier was born in Montevideo, Uruguay of Russian and Polish parents. At the age of nine he began to study the violin, and at age eleven made his conducting debut. While in high school he organized and conducted the first youth orchestra in Uruguay, which toured the country and gave more than one hundred concerts over four years. In 1956 and1957 he received a United States State Department Fellowship to study composition at the Curtis Institute of Music with Bohuslav Martinu and Vittorio Giannini, and with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood.

Serebrier received his MA from the University of Minnesota in 1960 where he wrote Elegy for Strings, earning him a Pan American Union Publication Award. While at Minnesota, he also shared the Ford Foundation American Conductors Project Award with James Levine. Serebrier served as the composer-in-residence for the Cleveland Orchestra for two seasons, and his and Orpheus x Light was the result of a commission for the Joffrey Ballet. He wrote a harp concerto, Colores Magicos, for the Inter American Music Festival and a double bass concerto, Nueve, for the double bass virtuoso Gary Karr.

Many prominent conductors have recorded his works. Serebrier himself has received multiple Grammy nominations as a composer and conductor. Leopold Stokowski conducted the first New York performance of Serebrier’s Elegy for Strings in 1962 and premiered the composer’s Poema Elegiaco. His violin concerto Winter was premiered at Lincoln Center in New York in 1995, and has since been performed by the London Philharmonia Orchestra. Other recent works include his Carmen Symphony, Symphony for Percussion, and orchestrations of Gershwin’s Three Preludes and Lullaby, commissioned by the Gershwin family.

WFIU will feature the music of Serebrier throughout the month of November.

David Wood

Originally from Leavenworth, Kansas, David Wood moved to Bloomington in 2005. He received his Bachelor of Music from Kansas State University, and his Master of Music from the University of North Texas. He studied ensemble direction at the Jacobs School of Music's Early Music Institute and joined WFIU in 2006 as an announcer. In 2008 he became WFIU's Music Director and also served as Art Bureau Chief from 2008-2013. David’s interests include Irish music and language (particularly traditional singing), music and religion, running, the outdoors, and, of course, classical music!

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