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José Serebrier: November's Featured Contemporary Composer

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.

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