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Richard Danielpour: WFIU's Contemporary Composer For January

A main stands gesturing while standing at the keyboard of a piano

WFIU’s featured contemporary composer for the month of January is American composer Richard Danielpour. An active composer and educator, Danielpour currently serves on the composition faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music.

Born in New York City, Richard Danielpour studied at Oberlin College and the New England Conservatory, and then went on to study with Vincent Persichetti and Peter Mennin at the Juilliard School, earning his doctorate in 1986. Danielpour also trained as a pianist with Lorin Hollander, Veronica Jochum, and Gabriel Chodos.

Much in demand across the globe, Danielpour has written for the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York City and Pacific Northwest ballets, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Pacific, National, Atlanta and Baltimore Symphonies, among many others. His music has also been championed by Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Sarah Chang, Dawn Upshaw, Emanuel Ax, Frederica von Stade, Thomas Hampson, Gary Graffman, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, as well as the Guarneri, Emerson, Muir, and American String Quartets.

Although his musical language is often described as neo-romantic, Danielpour’s expressive style freely incorporates elements of pop, rock and jazz rhythms, citing influences as varied as the Beatles to John Adams, Christopher Rouse and Joseph Schwantner. A frequent collaborator with poets, Danielpour created his first opera, Magaret Garner, with Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. The work premiered to sold-out houses in Detroit, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia in 2005 and had its New York premiere with the New York City Opera in 2007.

Danielpour’s recent successes include the 2009 composition A Woman’s Life, a song cycle based on poetry of Maya Angelou, and the orchestral work Darkness in the Ancient Valley, written in recognition of the ongoing sufferings of the Iranian people. Scored for soprano and orchestra, Darkness in the Ancient Valley was a joint commission of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and was premiered in November 2011 by Grammy Award-winning soprano Hila Plitmann and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra conducted by Giancarlo Guerrero.

Internationally honored, Danielpour has received a Grammy Award, two Rockefeller Foundation grants, Charles Ives Fellowship and Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim Fellowship, Bearns Prize from Columbia University, and grants and residencies from the Barlow Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Copland House, and American Academy in Rome. In 2002 he was awarded a fellowship to the American Academy in Berlin, and has become the third composerafter Stravinsky and Coplandto be signed to an exclusive recording contract by Sony Classical.

WFIU will feature music of Richard Danielpour in our classical music programming throughout the month of January.

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