The music of composer Luna Pearl Woolf (1973-) has been enthusiastically received across North America and Europe. Noted for her lyricism and wit, Woolf was recently highlighted as a composer and producer on NPR's All Things Considered and has been featured in the "global hit" segment of PRI's The World. Recent premieres include two works with a focus on recent events: Apres Moi, le Deluge, called "the first major work of classical music to commemorate the flooding of New Orleans" (Arts Journal), was premiered in April 2006; and After the Wave, an orchestral response to the 2004 tsunami devastation, commissioned by the Greenwood Music School, premiered in August 2005. Upcoming recordings include a new work for soprano, cello and piano, commissioned by Lisa Delan for release on the Pentatone label, and I am a Fish for soprano and string quartet, commissioned by Jama Jandrokovic and premiered at New York's Alice Tully Hall. Other recent commissions come from cellist Matt Haimovitz, pianist Katherine Jacobson and flautist Eugenia Zukerman, among others.
Woolf graduated summa cum laude in composition from Harvard University in 1996, and also studied at Oberlin College and Conservatory. In 2002, she earned her MA from Smith College. Woolf's principal composition teachers have been Mario Davidovsky, Augusta Read Thomas, Lewis Spratlan and Don Wheelock. Woolf was awarded the Ellen Taafe Zwilich Prize from the IAWM, the John Greene Scholarship and John Knowles Paine Fellowship from Harvard University, and the Settie Lehman Fatman Prize from Smith College. Born and raised in Western Massachusetts, Woolf now makes her home in Montreal.
Apres moi, le deluge - Luna Pearl Woolf with text by Eleanor Wilner
Apres moi, le deluge - excerpts - music by Luna Pearl Woolf
Melange a trois - Luna Pearl Woolf - Trailer
Oxingale Records presents Apres Moi, le Deluge by Luna Pearl Woolf. Releasing the disc on the 1st Ann. of Hurricane Katrina, these 2 recordings include: Apres Moi, Le Deluge, a live concerto for cello, featuring trail-blazing cellist Matt Haimovitz with the U of Wis-Mad Concert Choir, and Orpheus on Sappho's Shore, with the Ensemble contemporain de Montreal, featuring Julieanne Klein and Michiel Schrey
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From a deeply stirring Mass to hauntingly re-imagined Leonard Cohen masterpieces, LUNA PEARL WOOLF: Fire and Flood encompasses 25 years of vocal and choral works by the innovative American-Canadian composer. The composer-portrait album features new and compelling performances from The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY conducted by Julian Wachner, cellist Matt Haimovitz, soprano Devon Guthrie, mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata, and Broadway actress Nancy Anderson.
Luna Pearl Woolf's new opera JACQUELINE, about the life of Jacqueline du Pré, premieres at Tapestry Opera in Toronto this week.
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Oxingale Records releases Apres Moi, le Deluge around the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The debut full-length album of music by composer Luna Pearl Woolf includes two world-premiere recordings: Apres Moi, Le Deluge, a concerto for cello and a cappella choir recorded live by trail-blazing cellist Matt Haimovitz and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Concert Choir conducted by Beverly Taylor; and the "operatorio" Orpheus on Sappho's Shore, performed by soprano Julieanne Klein, tenor Michiel Schrey and the Ensemble contemporain de Montreal, conducted by Veronique Lacroix.
Called "the first major work of classical music to commemorate the flooding of New Orleans" (Arts Journal), Apres Moi, le Deluge is a post-Katrina lament, based on a new text by MacArthur-winning poet Eleanor Wilner who also wrote the libretto for the Orpheus on Sappho's Shore. The music of award-winning composer Luna Pearl Woolf has been heard at New York's Alice Tully Hall, the Beethovenhaus in Bonn, and the Montreal Chamber Music Festival. She is featured as composer and arranger on Oxingale's Anthem, Goulash! and Lemons Descending albums, and is the producer of six Oxingale recordings.
Apres Moi, le Deluge is the second in cellist Matt Haimovitz's "Buck the Concerto" series of commissions, which initially pairs solo cello with nontraditional ensembles. The piece captures the havoc and despair of the Katrina aftermath. Using Noah and his ark as an allegory, Wilner draws upon historic blues lyrics to evoke the damage caused to a national musical treasure. Taking the cello's role of the concerto soloist out of the traditional orchestral setting and into the lyric milieu of an a cappella choir, Woolf's music incorporates jazz and blues elements into a contemporary choral setting. Several blues solos can be heard from within the choir. The highly virtuosic cello part soars and implores as a voice of commentary, lament and anguish, grappling with issues that cannot be set to words.
"Not since Prokovief's Symphony Concertante, composed for Mstislav Rostropovich, have I encountered a cello concerto which so expands the range and role of the solo cello. In Apres Moi, Le Deluge the cello creates a hurricane one moment, sings the blues another, and embodies a swarm of flies the next. Luna knows my playing better than any living composer and she has approached the part with no limitations."
Matt Haimovitz will tour Apres Moi, le Deluge extensively in the 2006-2007 season, beginning in November 2006 with concerts in New Orleans and Houston, performing for refugees and survivors of Hurricane Katrina as well as for those whose lives have been devoted to helping them and rebuilding the gulf coast. This tour, with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Concert Choir and Beverly Taylor, begins in San Antonio, TX with a headline performance at the first annual National Collegiate Choral Organization conference. From San Antonio, the 50-member choir will travel by bus to Austin, Houston, and New Orleans. Haimovitz will also perform Apres Moi, le Deluge with other choirs; highlights are appearances with the New Amsterdam Singers in New York (March) and the McGill Concert Choir in Montreal (February). See below for a complete tour listing.
Apres Moi, le Deluge was recorded live by Haimovitz and Taylor in April 2006 at the world-premiere performance. At its premiere, Beverly Taylor, who conducted the performance, described her reaction to the piece:
"I really think this is a fabulous work. It has everything you'd want in a piece. It has complex styles; some ugly truths and some real beauty and some down-home New Orleans-type music. It has a multiplicity of styles, so it's difficult but very approachable."
Composer Luna Pearl Woolf spoke about the motivation behind her work, saying that it was not just the suffering that touched her and Wilner:
"The anger and guilt the Katrina aftermath brought up for me and Eleanor had to do with the neglect. It was perfectly obvious to everyone that something like this could happen. It was not just the shock and grief that moved us, but also the idea that it could have been prevented."
Woolf's notes on the music from the album follow below.
The arresting image on the cover of Apres Moi, le Deluge was drawn by Michael Kuch. The austere, drowning figure, representing Apres Moi, le Deluge, contrasts strikingly with the artist's colorful views of Sappho playing a conch shell and a skull-shaped lyre. These works originated as preparatory ink-wash and watercolor drawings for prints in Waterlines, a multimedia artist's book and music recording to be published by Oxingale Press in 2006. This limited-edition book combines prints by Michael Kuch, poetry by Eleanor Wilner and the music of Luna Pearl Woolf. Waterlines is the second collaborative effort by Oxingale and Kuch, whose Double Elephant Press celebrates one dozen artists' books this year.