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Celebration of the New!


Jan Vinci, flutist
Pola Baytelman, pianist

In celebration of the opening of the Arthur Zankel Music Center at Skidmore College, Senior Artists-in-Residence Jan Vinci and Pola Baytelman commissioned award-winning composer Jennifer Higdon to write a sonata for flute and piano, to receive its world premiere in November, 2010 at the Zankel Center's gala dedication program. 

A virtuosic and tonally rich sonata, Higdon's Flute Poetic gives flute and piano equal importance, challenge and prominence, and is the cornerstone of an exciting performance project conceived by Vinci and Baytelman. Individually acclaimed for their solo careers, the two performers are collaborating with gusto, developing a program of depth, intrigue and delight, featuring works by American composers. Utilizing Higdon's new composition as a springboard, the artists' program includes duo and solo works that reveal the multifaceted tonal colors and musical possibilities of their instruments.

Flute Poetic is a substantial three-movement sonata for flute and piano. Its exciting first movement was expressly written for Vinci and Baytelman. The middle movement and finale are transcriptions of Higdon's String Poetic for violin and piano (2006). Virtuosic and rhythmically driving outer movements frame a poetic and eloquent center, titled Blue Mist, in which the pianist's muffling of piano strings with the fingers produces a round, vibrant, timbale-like sound with an otherworldly and almost primitive effect.

Support for the Higdon commission comes from the Skidmore President's Discretionary Fund; Skidmore College Music Department; the Brannen-Cooper Fund, and private donations.

Higdon, whom Vinci taught flute in their home state of Tennessee, is no stranger to Skidmore College. She was the featured artist for the Skidmore Flute Festival in 1998, performing her own works and collaborating with faculty and students. She also performed on Vinci's latest Albany Records CD, Global FluteScape: Premieres and Rare Gems. Hailed by The Washington Post as "a savvy, sensitive composer with a keen ear, an innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure esprit," she is one of America's most frequently performed composers. Higdon won a 2010 Grammy award in the category Best Contemporary Classical Composition for her Percussion Concerto, and just weeks later was awarded the prestigious Pulitzer prize for her Violin Concerto, which judges described as "a deeply engaging piece that combines flowing lyricism with dazzling virtuosity." For more about Higdon and her international stature, please visit her website.

Together, Pola Baytelman and Jan Vinci look forward to working directly with Jennifer Higdon in helping shape this new work, certain to become a standard in the flute and piano repertoire. Higdon will give a pre-concert talk at the world premiere performance on November 13, 2010, in the new Ladd Concert Hall in Skidmore's Arthur Zankel Music Center, and will teach Skidmore students during her residency.

Experienced and gifted educators, Vinci and Baytelman are available for performances, lectures and classes. Also, Higdon and the duo are available for interviews.